A new trail begins just west of Little Long Pond on the Mt. Desert Land & Garden Preserve, which consists of 1,165 acres abutting Acadia National Park. The Richard Trail is named for Richard Rockefeller, a doctor who for years chaired the advisory board of Doctors Without Borders and died when the plane he was piloting crashed in fog and heavy rain three years ago.
I didn’t know Richard Rockefeller. Great-grandson of the most infamous of the robber barons, he was born into a family that has taken seriously the belief in giving back – through public service, the preservation of wild places, and even opposing the climate hypocrisy of ExxonMobil, the descendant of the original Standard Oil Co. At his death Richard Rockefeller was working on improving treatments for PTSD.
The Richard Trail meanders west and north across soft earth and hard granite, and then up wooded Eliot Mountain (elevation 450’) to Thuya and the Azalea gardens, connecting all the preserve’s lands donated by Richard’s parents, while barely disturbing the landscape of fallen trees and moss-covered ledges through which it winds. Perhaps half a mile from the path’s beginning, narrow stone steps take you down beside a cliff that rises perpendicularly on your left. The stones are not small, and I marvel at the effort to build this staircase, marvel at how carefully each stone seems to have been chosen and laid, a slow, difficult labor that honors both the natural beauty of the place and the man for whom it was named.