Connors Nubble Challenge

At the top of the mountain!
At the top of the mountain!

My Favorite Acadia Hike

Joseph and I do this hike, Connors Nubble, almost every year. We didn’t last year because I hurt my shoulder on the first day of vacation and I didn’t want to put any stress on my arm. That was a good thought, because when I got home, I discovered that it was a torn rotator cuff. So, after not doing this pretty strenuous hike for two years, we weren’t sure we still could. You know how it is, when you miss something, you aren’t sure you can do it again. We wondered…and took the baby aspirin with us! EagleLake.ConnorsNubbleTrail

We started out around 12:30. From the base of the trail, Connors Nubble is a 3.3 mile hike around Eagle Lake and up the mountain. 3.3miles doesn’t sound too bad. Except it’s not a straight walk. The beginning is easy enough. It follows the lake (with great views) for about ¾ miles of forest. If it wasn’t for the beautiful scenery of Eagle Lake, it could almost be boring.

That easy trail is followed by ¾ miles of hiking over big boulders. There are parts of the boulder section that really challenge both of us (that section always does!). It’s a bit testier for me since I wear hiking shorts and don’t want to scratch my legs or knees. Yes, I know I could wear jeans, but they tend to get hot…and my hiking shorts have lots of pockets to put my phone, camera, food, etc.

Eagle Lake
Eagle Lake

The boulder section ends with another short forest walk. If hikers get this far and decide they’ve had enough, there’s a trail that enables hikers to turn away from the lake and head for the carriage road. It’s always a little tempting…except I know what’s at the top. I keep going.

Joseph taking a boulder break
Joseph taking a boulder break

Once the trail turns, I figure that it’s about a ½ mile up the mountain to 588′ the summit, a combination of forest path and boulders.  It was during the ascent to the summit that we felt seriously challenged. The higher we went, the steeper the trail got, and the stronger the winds. The latter felt good…we’d been walking long enough to work up a pretty good sweat. But it was dicier the higher we went.

As we got closer to the summit, and for the first time, I had a little height issue. That happens to me sometimes, especially on tall bridges, but I haven’t actually experienced it on a climb…until today. As soon as I realized it, my strategy was to stay focused on the path beneath my feet…and not on how high I was or the drop below (remember, the summit is almost 600 feet high).

This is a picture of Joseph doing something I would never do…stand on a precipice. He had no fear, but it was so windy that I got nervous for him. Still, I couldn’t resist taking this picture because it looked like Joseph on top of the world…and I loved that!

While Joseph stood on the top surveying all that was below, I sat on the bottom rocks of the cairn (with the summit-height sign). To my left was Cadillac Mountain. At first I wasn’t sure that was it, but then I could see looked like tiny shiny bugs inching along in a procession of purpose. They all had one goal: make it to the top and see the spectacular views.I’ve hike and driven up Cadillac. I like the drive because it’s faster and way-easier.  The hike up is no picnic, but the walk down, if it’s on the road and around the mountain, gives spectacular views of everything…the mountain, Bar Harbor, Frenchman’s Bay, the Porcupine Islands and more. It doesn’t cheat the hiker out of anything!

Eagle Lake atop Connors Nubble
Eagle Lake atop Connors Nubble

I’ve heard that Connors Nubble has views as good as Cadillac but without the people. The latter is definitely true. Unlike Cadillac, the only way to the Connors Nubble summit is on foot. But, as fabulous as the views are from Connors Nubble, Cadillac still offers a few more.

Viewing Cadillac Mountain from Connors Nubble
Viewing Cadillac Mountain from Connors Nubble

We stayed on the summit long enough to drink a bottle of water and eat a couple cheese sticks. Then we decided to start down, which is the scariest part of this hike.

Starting down at the summit means looking down at a 500 feet+ drops where all I can see are the treetops and drop-offs below me. The path down is steep and skinny. No stopping for pictures here! I don’t remember how I got down in the past, but this time I know I slithered down the first few legs of the downhill on my butt. I didn’t much care if I wore out my short…they’re designed for hiking, so I figured they’d be fine. It was a little dicey but I kept reminding myself that I’ve done this same hike at least a half-dozen times…and I could do it again. And I did!

Once that first downward trail was over, the rest of the descent was fairly easy. And it dumps onto a carry road, which is mostly a bicycle path. Joseph and I walked back to the car on that easy road.

The fitbit said it was over 12,000 steps and 50+ “stairs” and it took 3.5 hours to complete, including the 15 minutes we stayed at the summit.

Eagle Lake from the forest
Eagle Lake from the forest

Once on the carry road, Joseph and I  were so excited that we did it! So, once we left the park, we headed for a local pub to celebrate with a couple drinks and appetizers. Before heading back to the cottage, we stopped at the Hannaford in Bar Harbor to pick up a couple food things. While we were there, Joseph checked red box and found a movie I’ve been wanting to see for months: Big Eyes.

One last stop at Mt. Desert Ice Cream. Joseph got a maple something. I got a combo of 7 layer and salted caramel – the latter is a favorite but not as much as their ginger ice cream (which wasn’t on the menu). The ginger ice cream here is the best and most flavorful I’ve ever had anywhere!

Back to the cottage for a light dinner of leftovers, Mt. Desert Ice Cream and BIG EYES!

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The Maine Diaries is a fun look at my annual adventure to New England where I unwind from normal life and reconnect with myself.

I was captivated by the Maine Coast on my first trip there in the late 90’s. In the years since, I’ve traveled up and down the coast from Kittery to Calais but I spend most of my Maine time Downeast. I love the adventures I have and the chance to unwind from the world and restore my inner clarity. I chronicle my experiences in The Maine Diaries.

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Every year Annmarie Kelly embarks on a trip to Maine where she reflects on her life, the years challenges and successes while seeking solace and adventure in the beautiful Northeast wilderness.

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