The afternoon sun illuminates the ice coating the trees and the sign atop Cedar Swamp Mountain on Jan. 17, in Acadia National Park. Credit: Courtesy of Aislinn Sarnacki

So far, this winter has been a weird one. But when has Maine ever had predictable weather? Live here long enough, and you realize that you just have to roll with it — whether it’s rain, sunshine, snow, sleet, mud or enough ice to bow even the most noble of trees.

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve experienced all of the above.

The start of this winter has been alarmingly warm, with little snow. People who enjoy skiing and snowshoeing are understandably sad about this. The ice anglers are also sad, especially those who’d been looking forward to competing in the derbies that were canceled.

Footprints in the snow lead toward the summit of Cedar Swamp Mountain on Jan. 17, in Acadia National Park. Credit: Courtesy of Aislinn Sarnacki

Yet Maine people are nothing if not adaptable. Just look at the angler in Penobscot County who’s been catching fish out of his kayak this month, And when snow does fall, skiers are jumping at the opportunity to glide over it before it melts away.

I, too, have been trying to stay optimistic and adapt. To find snow, I’ve traveled up into the mountains of Moosehead and Carrabassett Valley. And to embrace the quiet beauty of the season, I traveled along the coast to photograph lighthouses and birds.

When it was particularly sunny and warm in mid-December, I resolved to enjoy the sun in the Great Pond Mountain Wildlands by hiking Mead Mountain. And when it snowed a bit, I high-tailed it to the nearby Great Pond Mountain, also in the Wildlands, to trudge through the powder while it lasted.

Bangor Daily News Outdoors contributor Aislinn Sarnacki stands at an overlook on the Sargent Mountain South Ridge Trail on Jan. 17, in Acadia National Park. Credit: Courtesy of Aislinn Sarnacki

Still, I find myself hoping for colder weather and enough snow for me to finally break out my snowshoes. As I gaze down at the open water of the lake below my house, I’m dreaming of past winters when I sailed across its surface on ice skates. There’s still time, I remind myself.

Thinking I’d need a break from the cold, I planned a weeklong trip to Florida for the beginning of January. When I returned to Maine, the state was hunkering down for a storm of freezing rain, snow and sleet. Initially, I was bummed out about it. Why couldn’t it just be snow? Nice, fluffy snow? Why did ice have to encase my vehicle like a glazed donut?

But then I realized that the post-storm wilderness might be a magical place to explore, with all the shining ice and sparkling snow. So I went to Acadia National Park, and I happened to be right.

Following a storm, ice encases the branches of a spruce tree on Cedar Swamp Mountain on Jan. 17, in Acadia National Park. Credit: Courtesy of Aislinn Sarnacki

Wearing ice cleats for extra traction, I walked along the edge of carriage roads, careful not to step on cross-country ski tracks stamped into the shallow bed of snow. Coated with ice, spruce trees creaked and clacked overhead as they swayed in the wind. Along granite ledges, bubbles danced under rows of icicles slowly melting in the sun.

Leaving the network of multiuse roads behind, I turned onto the Sargent Mountain South Ridge Trail and kicked in my toes to climb through a peaceful forest. Only one set of boot tracks preceded me, and their maker was nowhere to be seen. Birds twittered all around, hiding in the frozen branches.

I’d selected the trail because it’s south-facing, and after a couple of stormy days, I wanted to enjoy the sunshine. But that also meant hiking through a thawing forest. Overhead, ice melted from tree boughs, showering me with cold water. All I could do was laugh.

Fortunately, I didn’t have my heart set on summiting Sargent Mountain because I didn’t make it that far. Continually distracted by the beauty of the landscape, I made slow progress and spent a great deal of time kneeling in the snow to photograph how ice coated and re-shaped various plants.

Snow and ice coat evergreens along the Sargent Mountain South Ridge Trail on Jan. 17, in Acadia National Park. Credit: Courtesy of Aislinn Sarnacki

The snow was quickly sinking toward the horizon when I reached the summit of Cedar Swamp Mountain, which the trail visits on the way to Sargent. Though I’d been there just a few weeks prior, hiking from another direction, the scene nearly stole my clouded breath. A thick layer of ice encased the wooden summit sign and the rock pile at its base. Golden sunlight filtered through that ice, and the frozen forest, setting it all aglow.

A smooth layer of snow covered the bedrock, collecting in tiny drifts and obscuring the shape of the granite beneath. Frosty ice coated low-lying berry bushes and stunted pines. Dark islands dotted the silvery blue horizon.

After enjoying such a fantastic scene, I was happy to turn around and hasten down the mountain before dark — though I carried a headlamp, just in case I needed it to light the way. Along the way, I nearly ran into a white-tailed deer that was standing in the middle of the trail. I’m not sure who was more startled, me or it.

The hike refreshed my memory on the beauty of Maine’s winter. And it renewed my faith that, no matter how wacky the weather, fun can be found — in the mountains or along the coast or deep in the woods.

Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn Sarnacki is a Maine outdoors writer and the author of three Maine hiking guidebooks including “Family Friendly Hikes in Maine.” Find her on Twitter and Facebook @1minhikegirl. You can also...