Dan and Hannah Circle Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park

JP map of pond

After tackling the Big Kahuna at Acadia National Park (click here for our climb up the Precipice Trail), Hannah and I wake at the way cool Bar Harbor Motel with our Acadia overnight winding down.  Just after dawn, we walk to the end of the motel property where we have a 0.2 mile trail leading into the park itself.

Taking a seemingly abandoned road for a half mile to the right, we soon are hiking on the smooth gravel of the Carriage Road towards Witch Hole Pond.  It’s a delightful hour of solitude with my solitude partner of choice, Hannah Banana.

JP 1 deer on motel trail

JP 1B morning trail carriage road

JP 1A D on morning trail

On the Carriage Road early Wednesday morning

Later, after feasting on the sumptuous breakfast at the Bar Harbor Motel of coffee, fruit, blueberry muffins, cold cereals, and bagels with garlic-laced cream cheese, we drive to Jordan Pond for a morning of circumnavigating this freshwater pond.

Probably the most popular trail in the park because of its levelness and access to major trailhead parking, the Jordan Pond loop (roughly three miles) is made for our grandsons, Owen (7) and Max (5).  Starting down the lawn from the Jordan Pond House, we have a mile and a half of gravelly trail within an arm’s length of the pond.

JP 2 D on gravel trail

Trail o’ gravel on the east side of Jordan Pond

JP 2C gravel trail


JP 2D gravel trail too

JP 2B rocks on gravel side

Looking back towards the trailhead

At the far end, we return for the trailhead along the forested waterfront.  Soon we are hiking through a series of boulders with orange markings, which turn out to be worn away parts of the granite from the footsteps of previous hikers.  This small-time bouldering adds character and rolling definition to the trail.

JP 3 H on stony part

JP 3A D on stony part

JP 3B stony part

Notice the natural trail markings of orange

JP 3C more stones with H

Once successfully navigated, the boulders give way to puncheons (planks that are an effective way to cross the low lying areas around the pond).  Volunteers have built these wooden trails with widened places for hikers to step aside while others pass.  Views of the pond soothe the smart phone-weary soul.

JP 4 puncheons

JP 4A planks

JP 4B planks

JP 4C planks more

Once back at the trailhead, we believe that this is a trail for hikers and non-hikers among our family and friends looking for an active way to spend a morning in Paradise (and by that I mean Acadia National Park).

JP 5 end of trail

Jordan Pond from the trailhead

Dan and Hannah Tame the Precipice Trail in Acadia National Park

Acadia 1AA hand holds

On the Precipice Trail looking handholds in the stone

Ever thought of climbing a really steep cliff?  Sound intriguing?  If it does, I have three rules of vertical climbing that I beg, nay plead that you follow when you next climb a mountain like the Precipice Trail.

One, take a small step rather than a bigger one as you climb; two, look for handholds in the stone; and three, keep at least three points of contact when climbing the mountain (i.e. two feet and one hand).

Acadia map

The Precipice Trail is about where the final c in Cadillac is on this map.

Last September I climbed the Precipice Trail of Verticality with Mitch Sakofs, my teaching buddy and personal mountain climbing guru.  Today Hannah and I will follow to the point of obedience his guidelines to the mountain top.

Last year, I titled that blog, Dan and the Bad Ass Precipice Trail, which suggests how challenging that hike/climb was for me even with a guide with Sherpa-DNA like Mitch.  Click here for that death defying 2018 blog.

Acadia 1AAAA trail explanation

So, what’s with the Tame in the title of today’s posting?  You might be thinking, Dan, do you believe you are now the bad ass?  Let me explain.

Acadia 1AAA trail sign

Hiking today on a 70F afternoon in early September after warming up with a morning of pickleball in Bangor, Hannah and I have a trail that gets our attention immediately with stones, boulders, and more stones rising high above us.

Acadia 1 stone steps where the trail begins

Welcoming stairway with boulders in the distance

Acadia 1A more trail of stones

Within a couple hundred yards, there is a boulder with three rungs that requires significant stretching and agility.  It’s the perfect yardstick to see whether you and this hike will find trail love.  See Hannah attack this boulder below.

Acadia 2 the initial rungs

Acadia 2A hannah on initial rungs

Successfully, Hannah meets the initial challenge and is ready for her first climb up the Precipice Trail.  Our climbing rules have us thinking of hand grabbing of the stone, and often, I have four points (i.e. both feet and hands) as I lean into the mountain.  Following the blue blazes to the summit, we have the comfort of knowing others are here on this popular trail for support if need be.  By the way, Hannah at 5’4” has to leg stretch even farther than I do at 5’10”, which makes this entire climb just a bit more challenging for the shortcakes among us.

Acadia 3 lower part stones

We follow the blue blazes to the top

Acadia 3A h on stones out to bay

Acadia 3C H between rocks

Acadia 3D h on rocks

Another tight passageway to the top

Acadia 3E han with rails

At the junction of the Orange and Black Path halfway up the mountain, we go from bouldering with rung climbing to the “ladder” section of the trail.  This more vertical part of the climb has us reaching for metal rebars securely anchored into the mountain of rock.  As you might expect, there’s a rung whenever we need it.

For this my second time up the Precipice, I never feel vulnerable and at risk on the trail; in fact, a little cocky but not blase.  Let the pictures tell our story.

Acadia 4 first ladder

Acadia 4A more rungs

Acadia 4B Han on rungs

Acadia 4C H on rungs again

Acadia 4D more ladders

Acadia 4E han out to bay

In an hour and twenty-five minutes Hannah summits Champlain Mountain feeling on top of the world while I think it pretty cool that we did this together.  Neither of us feel that this hike/climb pressed us to our limits as I did a year ago.  Above the cliffs, we have views of the islands to the east in Frenchman’s Bay.

Acadia 5 at the top

Within yards of the summit

Acadia 5A out to bay from top

Descending on the Champlain North Trail

Rarely do hikers climb down the way we came up.  As with many others, we take the Champlain North trail to the Black and Orange Path which has little of the verticality of the Precipice Trail.  A half mile walk on the Park Loop Road brings us back to the trailhead.

Acadia 6 trail down

Descending the Orange and Black Path

Tame?  I tamed my fear of this climb.

Next September, Hannah and I look forward to the Beehive Trail, Acadia National Park’s sister vertical climb.

Dan and Hannah Have a 40-year old

Back in the late 1970s, Hannah and I nearly gave up the idea of having children of our own.  As 30-somethings, we weren’t making things happen.

You see, after two years of trying during our 6th and 7th year of marriage, we were thinking that a family was just not in the cards and the Universe was dealing us jokers.  So, we just gave up.  Quit.  But not so fast, my friend.

Molly hovatter to tempe

Carefree and thinking we’d be dinks (i.e. double income no kids) while driving to California, we pulled off deserted Hovatter Road, 50 some miles from the Colorado River in Arizona, and… well, Molly came into our lives eight months and twenty-seven days later on August 5, 1979.

As with many first-timers, Hannah and I were clueless at the parenting game; we were amazed that two days after Molly was born, the nurse at Desert Samaritan Hospital in Mesa, Arizona would actually just send us home with a short pep talk, but no game plan or instruction manual.  Hoping for the best, we drove eight pound five ounce Molly to our new home at 1206 East LaJolla Drive in Tempe.

On day ten, Molly cried for seven hours straight.  No lie, seven hours!  Making the classic first-time parent mistake, we held her, rocked her, sang to soothe her in our arms.  Hannah would hold her for 20 minutes while I stood in the backyard with the doors closed behind me so I couldn’t hear Molly’s cries, and then we’d switch roles.

Grasping for straws at 10P, we called the pediatrician who told us to put her in the crib and let her cry for 15 minutes.  In five minutes, Molly was asleep, and she had survived her first bout with our parenting.

Molly tempe to york

Moving from Arizona with 2 1/2 year-old Molly and her four-month-old sister Robyn, we settled into life on the coast of Maine.  Thinking that raising kids in a small town in New England would be pretty cool, 37 years later we know that we hit our version of the lottery.

Through her public school years, Molly played sports, succeeded academically, later followed me into public education as a teacher, married very well, and rocks as the mother of our grandsons, Owen (7) and Max (5).  We couldn’t be more pleased.

Molly at ACC

Early morning on the ninth green at Amesbury Country Club

Now that she lives but an hour away in Massachusetts, Molly and I have summers for golf.  Every two weeks, we arise before dawn to play nine holes at the Amesbury Country Club, a turn of the century course with wide, forgiving, and empty fairways.

Catching up over the past fortnight, we hit second shots if we want, don’t keep score, and celebrate each other’s well-struck shots.  After nine holes, we head to the Morning Buzz for coffee and eggs, home fries, and multi-grain toast.

I never could have imagined that life could be so good.

PS  We’ll celebrate her 40th tonight.

Dan and Hannah with Owen and Max at the Acton (Maine) Fair

Living within an hour of our grandsons, Owen (7) and Max (5), each month Hannah and I spend two to three afternoons/evenings with them at their home in the Bay State.  Regularly, we also have “24 hours of Owen and Max” where the boys come to York for a day and an overnight, so our daughter Molly and her husband Tip get some time to themselves.

Acton 4 Owen first day

Acton 4B Max on first day

Acton 4A M, O, and M on first day

Our grandsons with their teacher mom!

There was no better gift for Hannah and me, as parents of young children than when we had my mom and dad come to Maine to take Molly, Robyn, and Will for three days/ two nights.  Manna from heaven. In bowling terms, it was a 300 game.

Acton map Y to A

With “24 hours of Owen and Max” beginning, we drive inland from our home on the coast of Maine this late August Thursday to a small time agricultural fair in the little burg of Acton (population 2,427).  Get these prices.  Parking is $4, the admission for Owen and Max is free, and Hannah and I pay a mere $8 each (Fridays seniors are $4!)

Acton 1 Han and Max

Eating fair food and the oxen pulling contests are at the top of the boys’ list.  Normally, in teams, oxen pull pallets loaded with concrete blocks up and down the dirt grandstand show path.  Unfortunately this year, we arrive after the oxen pulling and settle for the oxen strutting their stuff for the assembled small crowd of folks and judges.

Acton 1A Max as cow and H

Undeterred, we’ve brought pbj and veggies with humus for lunch.  Ah, but the boys have their sights on bigger fair fare.  You see, we give each one $4 to spend on whatever food they want.  Right off the bat, and before lunch, they each opt for a $2 bag of buttery, movie-style popcorn from the local Rotary club.  With the planned-for lunch no longer on their minds, we walk the midway to find how they will best spend their final $2.

Acton 3 Max on ride

Max low riding

And then we hit gold.  While ice cream cones everywhere are $3 or more, $8 funnel cakes and over-priced deep-fried anything is everywhere, we stumble upon two young men raising money to go to India to build a dam for the local population who are selling one scoop cones for a dollar.  One simolean!

Acton 2A ice cream guys

The next generation is in good hands with these young men looking out for the world

Owen opts for strawberry and Max mint chip, a personal favorite of mine.  Going down easily, the $1 cones mean they still have a greenback left.   They want another cone.  Wouldn’t you?  It’s their dollar; their choice takes Hannah back to a favorite childhood memory when her dad gave her money for three cones in one afternoon.

Acton 2 Fire and Rescue

Acton Fire and Rescue Team with three loyal supporters

While waiting for the carnival rides to open at 4P, Hannah notices two guys and a young woman from the Acton Fire and Rescue Squad sitting on a picnic table.  Hannah turns to Owen, Max, and me and suggests that we buy cones for the three and their nearby chief.  I approach the three and say, Have I got a great offer for you!  To thank you for your service, we’d like to buy you each a cone.  Can we?  How could they say no!  They can’t.  They don’t!

Gratefully, today we celebrate another of our 24-hour days with Owen and Max, this time at the Acton Fair!