My mom has never climbed a mountain (to my knowledge) in her whole life. I guess that’s kind of what happens when you’re a military wife raising three kids and uprooting every three years to who knows where. So when I got a text from her a few weeks ago telling me she had her eyes set on The Beehive in Acadia I couldn’t say no.
The Beehive is one of the MANY hiking options in Acadia National Park. Ranging from the huge mass of 1530′ Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the North Atlantic seaboard and first to see the sun in America most times of the year, to the shaky knees and nausea-inducing Precipe Trail up the side of Champlain mountain which regularly pops up on “most dangerous hike” type lists on the web, there’s quite literally something for everyone.
Seeing as school was approaching that coming Monday, I was already looking for something to do on the last school-free weekend of the summer. I had quit my job down at the Portland Transportation Center a few weeks prior, so I was doing my best to fill my time in a valuable way. I surfed a lot, wrote a lot of things (most of which will never see the light of day), hiked, and got ready for my last semester at Saint Joe’s.
The same weekend just happened to coincide with the 100th Birthday of the National Parks System, which meant free entry into the Parks. With Acadia turning 100, and looking damn good for her age, I had to get there.
I drove out on Saturday morning, loaded up with camera gear, a container filled with sandwich supplies and Pop-Tarts, and no plan. I got a text from my mom telling me that her, my dad, and my youngest sister Sophia were down on the coast of Maine hunting for sand dollars and sea urchins and did I want to meet for lunch? I just about never say no to a free meal, so we met in Bucksport and had lunch. While there, we took a trip across the river to the Penobscot Narrows Observatory and the Fort Knox Historical Site.
The Observatory soars 420′ above sea level and offers stunning views, and Fort Knox has been around since the 1800s. Both are fascinating for their own reasons, and well worth a visit.
After that, we grabbed some ice-cream, my mom tried to talk me into just coming home to Orono for the night, and we said bye. I hopped back in the car and buzzed down to the Schoodic Peninsula. Although it’s only about 4 miles “as the crow flies” from Mount Desert Island, where most of Acadia is located, it’s over 40 miles of driving between the two. Thus, it’s much less populated than the main park. It is, however, a photograph’s dream and is therefore filled with Canon and Sony wielding individuals willing to spill blood in order to get the spot for that perfect shot. That may be an exaggeration, however, it’s in no way my ideal evening to get into an argument with some 45-year-old man in socks and sandals and a Bar Harbor souvenir t-shirt wielding a 700-inch long camera lens when I could just walk a ways away and get the same view. So I found some seclusion, snapped some fun photos of the sun setting behind the mass of Mount Desert Island off to the right side, and waited for the Milky Way to make her grand appearance.
She took a while so I went back to my car and laid in the back and listened to the Red Sox stumble their way through a baseball game. Seriously, how does John Farrell still have a job? Anyways, around 9:30 or 10:00 at night, I rolled out of my car and was greeted with an awe-inspiring view.
Those are just a few of the photos I captured, but pictures obviously can’t do it justice.
I spent yet another fun night in a Wal-Mart parking lot, woke up and brushed my teeth in their bathroom, and met my mom and sister at the Hulls Cove Visitor’s Center at 10:00. From there, we drove along the park loop road to the base of The Beehive.
To backtrack a little, my mom was very nervous. Not a huge fan of heights, steep drops, or anything of the like, she had spent the previous night researching and reading everything that had ever been posted on the web about this hike. She was fairly convinced the self-named Beehive Trail was a little too intense not only for her, but my eight-year-old sister Sophie. Therefore, the plan was to go up the backside of the Beehive, a slightly longer distance but a much more gradual ascent.
As is often the case, though, once we came into sight of the sheer slopes of The Beehive’s face with its iron rungs and cliffs, both Sophia and Mom agreed they wanted to attempt it. “It’s going to suck, but I’m going to feel so accomplished when I get up there” is how my mom rationalized things.
And wouldn’t you know it, we did it just fine.
After the summit, we began our descent down the backside of the mountain via The Bowl trail. However, we had to delay our descent a few minutes because we didn’t really want to walk behind the trashy couple walking ahead of us, in which the female in the pair had decided she was going to finish the hike in just her tank top and her thong. I wish I had that body confidence/lack of respect for children and adults to do that. As Edward Abbey once said, “The National Parks belong to everyone.” Even scuzzballs.
We started going down, and found ourselves at The Bowl, a small pond located in the depression between a handful of Acadia’s mountains. Spectacularly beautiful and notoriously leech-filled, Sophie and I couldn’t resist jumping into the beautiful water. We didn’t exactly tell Sophie about the whole leech thing, so when she saw her first one after swimming for ten minutes, she lost her mind. Strangely, no one else joined us in the pond the whole time.
We got back around to the car and enjoyed some time at Sand Beach.
After that, I booked it back to Old Orchard Beach and got ready for school the next day.
Overall, I was very proud of both my mother and sister on this one. They both absolutely crushed it in a way I don’t think they expected and now both have their sights set on Katahdin next summer which would be a first for both of them. I know they’ll get it done if they stay motivated.
Thanks for reading along folks, and see ya next time.