Fear and trust. It’s time to leave the former for the latter. I mean, how is fear working for you? We all have choices. The transition from fear to trust and faith begins by believing. Each morning I read through my affirmations. The very first one is This is the best time in my life as I am more trusting and have greater faith. Trusting has taken a boatload of practice for me to make it come more naturally. In dealing with challenges, be they with people, situations, or physical, trusting in myself has made all the difference.
Coming north from our home in York, Maine to Acadia National Park, I am ready to trust and face my one-time belief that climbing the Beehive Trail was beyond me; too risky, too too. With its vertical rungs of rebars, the Beehive Trail, I imagined, was for those far more adventurous than I.
People may point to the fact that a young woman died climbing a similar vertical park hike (Precipice Trail) in 2012. So? Hundreds, thousands have successfully climbed the Beehive Trail. Why make an outlier a guide for life? Another of my morning affirmations (really my philosophy of life) is I don’t assume lightning will strike when I make decisions.
The small crack to trust that I could climb the Beehive Trail was born on Angel’s Landing in Utah. If I could climb that peak in Zion National Park, why not the Beehive Trail?
With Hannah away with girlfriends in Vermont this late April weekend, my University of New Hampshire classmate, Bill Buggie, returns with me to Acadia National Park. We have made a tradition of coming to Acadia before the hectic tourist summer season to hike its trails and bike its Carriage Roads.
At the Hull’s Cove Visitor Center, the young rangers show us on our trail map where to park at the trailhead by Sand Beach. With their yellow highlighter, they outline the route to the top, the way to the Bowl (a mountain tarn/pond), and the hike over Gorham Mountain; they then take us back to Sand Beach to complete five-miles on the trail.
Parking at Sand Beach this late April Friday, we easily find the access to the Beehive Trail off the Park Loop Road. Different from gentle sandstone trails that Hannah and I’ve encountered at Zion or the Grand Canyon, this trail is rocks upon rocks without end Amen; jagged and everywhere. For the first two tenths of a mile the hike/climb rises gradually as we pass our first hikers coming down from the summit.
It’s a family with a ten-year-old girl and her eight-year-old brother. Engaging the dad in conversation, I learn that though their daughter had some fear of heights, she handled the Beehive just fine.
Two hundred yards later, we meet up with another family who had taken the more leisurely roundabout Bowl Trail to the top of Beehive Mountain. (Point of fact, there are no bees today, but the mountain in the distance does resemble a beehive.) Unseasonably warm at 68F, the day has me in my Ithaca Bomber tee shirt and shorts.
In the distance, we can see the mountain top through the trees that are still not leafed out. Above us there is a woman on the mountainside, crossing a grate between two stony ledges. Though it’s a little bit unsettling to realize that that is where we’ll be going, Bill leads as I follow in a “No Doubt” state of mine.
The first rungs into the mountainside take us up a modest stone facade. The rebars are immovable and reassuringly solid in a favorite uncle sort of way. I think to myself, The steep cliffs must lie ahead.
Pulling ourselves up with the support of the rebars, we also have stretches of stony paths along the mountainside. One misconception of mine of the Beehive Trail was that the rebars were all in the form of rectangular steps straight up the mountainside. Not so, for some are clearly for handholds.
Climbing on, we expect that the steep section of the climb must still be ahead. We do walk across a well-placed rebar grate between two massive stone outcroppings where we previously saw the woman. It’s more cool than scary as we walk as close as we can to the mountain wall of stone. It never feels daunting, but that said, I don’t look down to the forest below. Finding another flat section, we check out the view to Frenchman’s Bay and Bar Harbor itself.
Soon we have a set of ten rebars to negotiate up the mountainside. It still doesn’t feel like I am on the edge of anything. I am just climbing the side of the mountain without a thought to the forest below.
Ahead is a mom being supported, and encouraged by her husband as their middle school age kids climb ahead.
I’m not sure how close to the top we are when we see four twenty-somethings chilling and checking out the bay below. And then it hits us, we have summited.
I must say I’m a little disappointed. I thought there would be a more harrowing section to show my courage and fearlessness. We made it, but I wanted more.
The Beehive Trail is no Angel’s Landing nor Picacho Peak in Arizona. It’s cool but doable for many hikers of many ages who don not have an excessive fear of heights. It is always good to remember that Your safety is your responsibility.
The YouTube videos that I watched before the climb made it seem scarier than it was for me.
Accepting that the Beehive Trail is what it is and grateful for being on a mountain on the coast of Maine in early spring, Bill and I head off to the Bowl as part of our five miles of hiking. Through the forest, we hike easily to and over Gorham Mountain. Down at the Gorham Mountain trailhead, we cross over the Park Loop Road to walk along the shoreline trail on a still warm late Friday afternoon in April.
Once back at Sand Beach, Bill and I celebrate a warm hiking afternoon in Maine, and look forward this fall to when we’ll hike the companion mountainside climb, the Precipice Trail. I hear it’s the Big Brother to the Little Brother Beehive. We’d like to hang another pelt on our wall.