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, the Disappointer, or Is He? 

Precipice acadia map

The Precipice Trail is on the Park Loop Road (near the c in Cadillac)

You see, I’d made plans with a buddy of mine to hike the Precipice Trail in Acadia National Park here in Maine in mid-September.  More than a hike, the Precipice Trail is really a stone wall climb up the side of a mountain.  Enjoy this engaging five minute video from Unboring Exploring (click here) to give you a feel of the rocky cliff we’d be climbing.

precipice cliff

As the hiking Wednesday approaches, the forecast is iffy.  Rain is in the forecast for the day before, which will continue til the following morning on our hiking appointment with verticality.  Despite the forecast, my buddy leans toward giving the climb a shot; wet conditions have never stopped him before.  Fresh in my mind is my recent August hike up the stone facade of Mount Major in New Hampshire after a serious rainfall the day before (click here for that blog).  Though the sun was out, my former Arizona State classmates and I found the stony mountainside a tad slippery.

precipice rungs

You see, the Precipice Climb requires the grasping of metal rungs in order to summit; in other places we’ll be hand-grabbing up stone faces and cliffside-trail walking.  Leery myself of climbing on wet surfaces, I text back and forth with mi amigo about weather conditions.  Eventually I conclude I want to postpone.  We reschedule for two weeks hence.

precipice wooden walk

Now, I am not a big fan of disappointing others.  Who is?  I like to come through, but plowing ahead when new information is available is not always the bright thing for me to do.  Once seduced into deferring to experts, I now trust my inner compass much more.  When I ignore my gut feelings, I find that I can lose my “self,” have my soul get lost in the shuffle of meeting the expectations of others.

I know I have choices that I can exercise (appropriate word choice consider the climb ahead).  In fact, my world and those I deal with is a better place when others know what I think and what I want, rather than having to guess.

And here’s the bottom line: I can make any decision be the best decision.  If I don’t look back, neither ruing nor regretting, I can put all my energy into making the decision epic.

Addendum – Though my buddy may be disappointed, I bet he got over it quickly and moved on.  What’s the pay off in pissing and moaning when someone honestly tells you how they feel?