Ascent of The Beehive on 2018-10-10
|Others in Party:||Jim Haynor -- Trip Report or GPS Track|
|Date:||Wednesday, October 10, 2018|
|Ascent Type:||Successful Summit Attained|
| Elevation:||540 ft / 164 m|
Ascent Trip ReportWe were staying in Millinocket, ME but the forecast called for rain there this day. On the east coast of Maine, on Mount Desert Isle, the forecast was for sunshine. So we decided to head to the coast and do a couple of hikes there, the first being The Beehive. It was sunny and warm for a fall day, and the people were out in force. A lot of people were hiking the Beehive this day - a weekday, after Columbus Day weekend! I can't imagine what it would be like during the summer. The parking lot for this trail head is at Sand Beach. From here, looking at The Beehive, you understand how it got its name - it appears to be a dome, with a lot of open rock, dotted with trees, and, if you look closely, bees, err, people, climbing up the rock face on their way to the summit. We're going up THAT way??
Only two tenths of a mile from the trail head is a trail junction, where you must decide whether you'll be brave and take the cliff trail to the right, or, if you have small children and/or dogs and take the Bowl Trail to the left, which takes you on a much gentler path around the backside to the summit of The Beehive. You'll get the same summit view, just, without the butterflies floating in your gastrointestinal system. And it doesn't require use of your feet and hands. I'm not a big fan of heights, but everyone else was eager to take this challenge, so I figured I should challenge myself and just do this. What's the worst that could happen? After all, many people do this every day, so, why shouldn't I be able to do this? Immediately, we came upon a sign with a series of stern warnings: "This trail follows a nearly vertical route with exposed cliffs that requires climbing on iron rungs", "Falls on this mountain have resulted in serious injury and death", Dogs are prohibited, and "small children and people with a fear of heights should not use this trail". OK then! No sweat, what are we waiting for? Let's go!
So, on we went. It's only a quarter mile from this trail junction to the summit, but, the ascent is as advertised. There is lots of climbing up on rocks, iron rungs to assist when needed the most and narrow ledges where the rock wall becomes your closest friend as you walk along. There's even a spot where the rock ledge you're walking along all but disappears into the rock face, and if it weren't for an iron grate that was constructed, you would have to leap across to another rock ledge. You really have to be careful. There are many places to take a quick break to catch your breath and take in the beautiful scenery. Once you're on the open rock ledges and all the way to the top, you get a great view of the Atlantic Ocean, Sand Beach and Beehive Lagoon. And since it was October, the leaves were in full color.
When we reached the summit of The Beehive, we found it swarming with people. After you have climbed the rock face and reached the relatively flat summit, you'll continue on the blue paint marked trail to the other side of The Beehive and follow the trail back down the back side. It's strongly recommended that you don't go back down the cliff face. Before continuing, we stopped for a little while and enjoyed the view of Mount Desert Isle and all the islands dotting the Mount Desert Narrows. To the north of us was Champlain Mountain which features The Precipice Trail - I can't wait to do that one!
The trail descends briefly to a trail junction on the northwest side of the peak - turn left to take a shortcut back to the trail head or continue on to The Bowl. The Bowl is a beautiful little lake 440 feet above sea level. We found many fewer people had returned this way, opting for the shortcut - don't do that - you'll miss this peaceful little spot where you can sit on the rocks along the shore and take it in. I can imagine people taking a dip in this lake in the summer time. And, again, being fall, the colors of the trees across the lake were vibrant.
Moving on, there are a couple more trail junctions, as there are many ways you can extend the hike, including following the Champlain South Ridge Trail to the summit of Champlain Mountain, just 1.6 miles further.
As we returned to the trail head, we passed many people, including families with small children, heading toward the first trail junction. I hope they turned left - some of these kids were really small. When we returned to the trail head, we had hiked about 1.5 miles and took about 2 hours. It was an extremely enjoyable hike, and it turns out, very doable. The people who created this trail really took hiker safety into consideration by adding all the rungs. Without them, this would be a much more dangerous and challenging hike.
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