Overlanding in Maine: A great way to get away from it all

Overlanding: A great way to get away from it all

Overlanding, Gulf Hagas

We drove our Jeep over several miles of dirt roads to reach Gulf Hagas, where we parked and then hiked a trail to see Billings Falls. The trail goes for miles and takes hikers to a number of different sites.

Overlanding, a relatively new trend in the U.S., fuses camping and driving an off-road vehicle, and if you’re planning an overlanding adventure in Maine, you’ll need a tough and reliable vehicle. My pick is the Wrangler, though a Land Rover or Toyota Land Cruiser are other popular choices.

Although it’s a bit ironic, the vehicle actually helps you get closer to nature by allowing you to get away — far away — into the wilderness.

In exploring the rugged terrain of Maine, you have several options, including the North Maine Woods, Baxter State Park and Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument.

The North Maine Woods is made up of more than 3.5 million acres of commercial forest owned by an organization of private landowners. It is situated in western Aroostook and northern SomersetPenobscot and Piscataquis counties. Baxter State Park and Katahdin Woods & Waters are located adjacent to each other in Piscataquis County and encompass more than 200,000 acres.

Known as The Maine Highlands, these places are truly in the wilderness. The roads are not paved. And you’ll find no visitor centers, stores or supply stations.

Overlanding in Maine

You won’t see views like this from the paved roads. In many cases, it requires more than a day trip to reach spots like this one.

Camping is available in designated areas, all of which are without a bathhouse, portable toilet or even running water. You will have to bring your own water for cooking and washing as well as drinking. We freeze reusable bottles of water, which serves as ice in the cooler. As it thaws, it becomes extra drinking water. Don’t forget a good knife and some kind of small basin for washing.

To avoid unpleasant encounters with hungry bears, store everything, including dry goods, such as beef jerky, trail mix and bread, in a sealed container. A cooler inside a locked vehicle is probably safe, unless your vehicle has a soft top which may not keep the scent from reaching hungry noses. In that case, consider a good locker, food canister or bear bag.

Another caveat while overlanding — don’t count on having cell phone service. You want to make sure you have everything you will possibly need, including a spare tire, because you probably won’t even be able to reach AAA. If you bring a cell phone, or if your camera uses rechargeable batteries, make sure you have the means to charge them in your vehicle. You’ll also have to plan your trips so that you pass by towns at the right time to get gas and other supplies. GPS navigation is notoriously flawed up in these areas, so get a Maine Atlas and Gazetteer at any sporting goods store as well.

Overlanding in Maine

Campsites are primitive, without access to running water or even portable toilets. We recommend a small tent and folding chairs that can be set up anywhere.

Of course, you will also need to take along anything needed for your preferred activity, from a good pair of hiking boots to fishing gear, bikes, canoes and kayaks. For us, the joy comes from hiking. Among the highlights of our trip was hiking to Billings Falls (extra special because we share its name) located in Gulf Hagas near the Katahdin Iron Works gate to the Maine North Woods.

Overlanding also gave us the chance to eat when we were hungry without concern about where we would find the next restaurant or picnic area. We simply stopped the Jeep, set up our folding chairs and had lunch, using the cooler as a makeshift table. Lunches like this don’t take long, either, leaving more time to dedicate to exploration.

My passion for photography goes hand in hand with my enjoyment of the outdoors. During our overlanding trip, we saw only about a half dozen other people, not counting those at supply stops. This meant I could take virtually any photo I wanted without unwanted people in the shots. There was no waiting for giggling visitors to take two-dozen selfies before I could capture my own image. I didn’t have to worry about anyone walking into the shot either. Those were probably some of the easiest photos to take, but they remain among my favorites.

Overlanding in Maine

The sunset behind Mount Katahdin is seen from one of the unpaved roads running through the Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument.

The closest place to rent a vehicle that can handle overlanding is in Bangor, which is approximately two hours south of the North Maine Woods. A Google search of outdoor outfitters in Bangor will provide all of your camping and sporting good rentals, along with Northwoods Outfitters in Greenville, as well.

— Text & Photos: Johanna S.Billings. Johanna is an award-winning writer/photographer based in Steuben. She covers eastern Hancock County and western Washington County for the Ellsworth American newspaper.

3 Yoga Poses to Practice in the Maine Outdoors

3 Yoga Poses to Practice in the Maine Outdoors

As the weather gets warmer and the days stretch out longer, Mother Nature presents us with an abundance of opportunities to bask in summer mindfulness. There’s no simpler way to get lost in the moment than by spending the perfect present being perfectly present. Whether it’s a hike along your favorite trail, paddling down a rushing river or picking the season’s plumpest blueberries, the outdoors can offer us countless chances for deep self-reflection, restoration and wonder.

Adding yoga and meditation to the list of outdoor activities that can awaken the senses feels like a no-brainer. An article from Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging shows that meditation plays an active role in positively changing brain matter and increases overall well-being and quality of life. And according to the International Journal of Preventive Medicine, yoga has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety, improve a vast number of autonomic functions and offer a myriad of other physical and mental health benefits.

With the many majestic destinations Mainers have to choose from, it seems only fitting to explore them as places to practice yoga and meditation. Here are three of the best yoga poses you can strike to become one with Maine’s natural beauty:

Mountain Pose

Mountain Pose.

1. A Mountain Top Mountain Pose

Mountain Pose, or “Tadasana,” is the single most foundational pose in yoga. To practice it, the yogi stands tall and straight, stacking the spine upright while rooting the feet into the earth. It’s from this pose that all other poses stem. As yogis flow through more progressive movements, maintaining Tadasana, authenticity is what keeps them safely aligned. This stacked positioning facilitates ease in seated meditation — a pivotal part of yoga.

Practicing Tadasana on top of a mountain is an awe-inspiring way to become one with the outdoors. Since it’s also the first posture in the series, “Sun Salutations A,” flowing through a few rounds is a great way to welcome the dawn and channel the ancient yogis with mindful morning movement.

2. Grow Your Own Tree

Tree pose, or “Vrksasana,” is a balancing posture that explores the deep connection between our inner roots and the Universe. To practice it, place the sole of one foot on the inside of the opposite calf or thigh. You can adopt a “mudra” or symbolic hand gesture to draw yourself further inward, or grow your branches into the sky and sway them playfully in the breeze.

The best way to experience Tree Pose is in your favorite stretch of woods. Strive to become one with the elements, fixing your gaze on a faraway focal point or “drishti” and taking deep, relaxing breaths of fresh, forest air.

Ocean Breaths Pose. Deer Isle Photo by Amy Shepard

Ocean Breaths Pose. Deer Isle Photo by Amy Shepard

3. Flow Through Easy Seated Ocean Breaths

Ocean Breath, or “Ujjayi Pranayama,” is known as the “Breath of Victory.” This deep, measured yogic breath is practiced by inhaling fully through the nose, keeping the lips sealed and breathing out through the nose. The length of each exhale is equal to the length of each inhale. The breath originates from the base of the throat and creates a hoarse, whisper-like noise upon release (think Darth Vader). You can practice Ocean Breath to help maintain focus, invigorate the senses and distribute dynamic breath through the entire body.

Find a comfortable seat on the sand of your favorite Maine beach, close your eyes, place upward-facing palms on your lap and begin to flow this energizing breath through your system. Work to sync up to the sound of the crashing waves, keeping your thoughts on the power of the present and the force of your Ujjayi Breath.

Yoga means “Union” in Sanskrit. Merging it with Maine’s most compelling outdoor destinations is one of the best ways to nurture yourself… with nature.

—Text: LeeMarie Kennedy. LeeMarie is a copywriter and content marketing specialist in Boston, Massachusetts. When she’s not meticulously wordsmithing, she can be found teaching as a certified yoga instructor, exploring her own yoga practice, traveling the world, laughing, drinking coffee or eating something delicious.

Swimming is a low-impact aerobic activity that reduces joint stress, increases personal strength and promotes overall spinal decompression. It’s also a chance to connect with nature in a truly immersive way.

Three Outdoor Activities to Reduce Your Screen Time and Recharge Your Spirit

In a world that’s never been more easily connected, the average American spends about 11 hours per day on a device. According to the Nielsen Total Audience Report, whether we’re scrolling through social media, watching TV or video, swiping through mobile apps or perusing digital media, the majority of the population’s pastimes revolve around staring at a screen; which can be a little bit… disconcerting.

Reduce your screen time: Activities like kayaking and canoeing build overall endurance and can carry us to some of the most scenic destinations Maine has to offer.

Photo courtesy of Liberty Rogue Outdoors

This unprecedented engagement with technology is also causing an influx of digitally-induced afflictions. “Facebook Depression,” for example, is an actual disorder that correlates social media usage to depression and loneliness.

Cell Phone Addiction” is also considered one of the greatest addictions of the 21st century, causing all kinds of physical and psychological issues, including rigidity and muscle pain, ocular afflictions, fatigue, insomnia and a loss of interest in social and recreational endeavors. And according to the Journal of American Medical Association, the risk of developing Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms more than doubles with high screen use.

With all this time spent adapting the body to meet our digital demands, the physical effects of stress take their toll. The strained position of the head and neck with device use is known as “Tech Neck.” It causes unnecessary stress on the spine and reinforces poor posture patterns—bringing some serious long-term consequences such as disc degeneration, arthritis and chronic pain.

The good news is, spending time outside is one of the best ways to undo all that digital damage. Here are three outdoor activities that reverse the negative effects of screen time and recharge your spirit:

Reduce your screen time: Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) is a fun alternative to traditional paddling and provides a full-body workout at the same time. On top of engaging the entire upper body, SUP flexes deep core muscles to keep you upright and cruising across your favorite body of water.

Photo courtesy of Portland Paddle

1. Paddling and Stand Up Paddle Boarding

Paddling puts your muscles in the perfect position to open up the front line, stretch and strengthen the shoulders and stimulate the trapezius muscles to combat all that hunching over. Activities like kayaking and canoeing build overall endurance and can carry us to some of the most scenic destinations Maine has to offer. Some studies show that our connection to nature increases attentional capacity and positive emotions, decreases stress and even enhances our ability to solve life problems.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) is a fun alternative to traditional paddling and provides a full-body workout at the same time. On top of engaging the entire upper body, SUP flexes deep core muscles to keep you upright and cruising across your favorite body of water.

2. Hiking the Ergo Way

The world’s most tried, true and time-honored pastime — hiking, is one of the easiest ways to get away from your desk for even just an hour. Just you, your backpack and the profound sounds of nature. The benefits of hiking are almost too many to list: cardiovascular engagement, decreased blood pressure and stress, overall enhancement in physical and mental wellbeing, and most importantly: restored attention. There’s no WiFi in the woods, so there’s no temptation to break your focus.

Reduce your screen time: Paddling puts your muscles in the perfect position to open up the front line, stretch and strengthen the shoulders and stimulate the trapezius muscles to combat all that hunching over.

Photo: Mike Leonard

To maintain healthy alignment, however, choose your backpack wisely. Ergonomic backpacks are padded for your spine, designed to reduce the strain on your neck, easy to adjust, and facilitate overall ease in your hiking experience. Some important features to look for include wide straps, a waist strap, multiple compartments to evenly distribute weight and proper contact of the body with the pack. The more adjustable the pack, the more comfortable and enjoyable your hike will be.

3. Swimming

Swimming is a low-impact aerobic activity that reduces joint stress, increases personal strength and promotes overall spinal decompression. It’s also a chance to connect with nature in a truly immersive way.

Whether it’s charging through the ocean waves, drifting down a flowing river or floating along a calm lake or pond, swimming offers you the chance to build up a healthier spine and reverse the dreaded screen time.

However you choose to engage with the outdoors, remember to put the phone away. A simple reset is often the best remedy for tech burnout. Get outside, get moving and experience all the offscreen Maine has to offer!

— Text: LeeMarie Kennedy. LeeMarie is a copywriter and content marketing specialist in Boston, Massachusetts. When she’s not meticulously wordsmithing, she can be found teaching as a certified yoga instructor, exploring her own yoga practice, traveling the world, laughing, drinking coffee or eating something delicious.

Hikes & Brews: Bluff Head Preserve and Strong Brewing Company

Hikes & Brews: Bluff Head Preserve and Strong Brewing Company

You’ll find Strong Brewing Company at the junction of Route 175 and Route 15 in Sedgwick. Park across the street and walk a quarter-mile west on Rope Ferry Road to the Bluff Head Preserve, 58 acres under the care of the Blue Hill Heritage Trust. Three short trail segments—Oaks, Erratic and Pine—combine for a delightful walk of 1.5 miles out to Bluff Head. The 90-foot high ledge overlooks a big bend in the tidal Bagaduce River, which flows 14 miles from its source at Walker Pond to empty into Penobscot Bay at Castine.

If a little more walking is in order, head south on Route 15 for about four miles to Cooper Farm at Caterpillar Hill, home to two miles of trails. The view of the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge over Eggemoggin Reach from the extensive blueberry fields is impressive, while the mossy spruce woods below are delightfully cool and fragrant. In late July, the berry picking is amazing.

Strong Brewing is housed in the daylight basement of the clapboard home of Mia Strong and her husband, Al, who was a homebrewer for many years. Together, this pair of admitted beer geeks decided to open a brewery as their retirement job.

The taproom is a cozy space with a few tables and chairs, while the brewing operation is behind the hanging windows to the right. At the short bar you’re likely to find Mia or son, Stephen, serving up pints and flights of ales and lagers poured from six taps. Localmotive, a California common style brew, Bale O’Hay IPA and Soulpatch Porter and are the mainstays, while in summer you’ll also find Maineiac, a double IPA, and the hoppy Rope Ferry Red, among other refreshing selections.

Enjoy your brew indoors, or better, outside at the picnic tables on the lawn or under the timber pavilion topped with a bright red roof, which regularly hosts live local music talent. There’s usually a food truck parked next door as well.


Hike: Bluff Head Preserve, bluehillheritagetrust.org   207-374-5118

Brew: Strong Brewing Company, strongbrewing.com 207-359-8722. Tap Room hours can be found in the Maine Brew & Bev Tasting Room Directory.

— Text & Photos: Carey Kish of Mt. Desert Island. Carey is an avid beer drinker, editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide, and author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast.

Celebrating 35 Years: Activities Guide of Maine

35th Anniversary – 2019

The 35th edition of the Activities Guide of Maine is dedicated to the founding publishers, my parents, who both were still a major part of the sales and operations of each magazine, months before each of their passing. Both started this new career in their early 50s, just as they were getting close to retirement and technology was archaic.

Mom and Dad, look how far we have come since 1984! To Mom—whose unconditional love for me and all my siblings, has taught us to always be positive, keep smiling, and to keep pushing forward. She was a true matriarch. While raising a family, she became the top grossing sales person the last 15 years of her publishing and sales career. She played a huge part in the production of every magazine as she and my Dad would stay up until dawn for three days straight, laying out the magazine on light boards and using the very first desktop Mac computer with the PageMaker program. She did the “paste ups” literally, using Elmer’s glue to add all the little clip art and fun sketches that brought life and humor to pages of the Regional Activities Guide of Maine before the digital era. She was a renowned cook, homemaker and entertainer; her famous hors d’oeuvres recipes made appearances in every magazine (recipes which I would like to bring back to future issues).

Activities Guide of Maine - First issue

Our first issue, 48 pages, was filled with mom’s recipes, Maine history, and travel anecdotes.

Tribute to Firemen (1987-88)

Tribute to State Troopers (1991)

Tribute to Coast Guard (1990)

25th Anniversary Issue





My first issue doing Portland Sales

To Dad—the consummate salesman, who lit up a room and had the gift of being an expert conversationalist. He asked a lot of questions and would actively listen to get to know a new acquaintance or offer family members some knowledgeable advice. He had a sincere interest in people and relationships were always important, which was also evident in his sales accounts. Dad was a great teacher and planted goals in all of us in hopes they would grow and flourish.

I remember riding along on sales visits with both Mom and Dad when I was a kid; it always seemed like they were meeting old friends with hugs and handshakes. I could see that the advertising relationships were deeper than contracts and marketing.

Both were loved by their advertising partners and built relationships they valued and this is something I hope to do as we move our publishing titles forward.

As part of our remembrance for this issue, we lost Ellie Stengle, a veteran of our Sales team who passed away last November. She is greatly missed.

I would like to acknowledge the talented team that has brought you our 35th edition. Their amazing work has taken the Activities Guide of Maine, and our sister media titles, RaceME and the Maine Brew & Bev Guide, to the next level. My deepest gratitude to all: Jim Harnedy for more than 25 years of sales and editing, Larissa Davis, Kristina Roderick, Mike Leonard, Kay Stephens, and Robin Bean—you all are VIPs!

Stanley J. Rintz, III

I close with a heartfelt acknowledgement to my wife, Elizabeth, for all her encouragement and assistance throughout our adventure together.

See you out there!

Stanley J. Rintz, III

Boating in Maine

On the Water in Maine

Waves crashing against a shore. The buoyancy of floating. The rush of a river pouring over rocks — it’s no wonder we’re drawn to the water. Scientific evidence proves that water, just the sound and the movement of it, relaxes us. And, the best way to relax and reconnect in Maine this summer is to get on a boat.

the best way to relax and reconnect in Maine this summer is to get on a boat.

Photo: Activity Maine

Discover Boating, the world’s largest online guide to recreational boating, is tapping in to research conducted by Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist and author of Blue Mind, to promote the health benefits of boating. “We now know, thanks to science, that the mere sight and sound of water promotes wellness by lowering cortisol, increasing serotonin, and inducing relaxation,” said Dr. Nichols. “It only makes sense that being on a boat is one of the best ways to access the wellness benefits of the water.”

Luckily it’s easy to do that in Maine. Our state is filled with pristine lakes and rivers as well as 3,478 miles of coastline to explore. Our blue waters beckon you to grab a boat — any boat —and experience the happiness that comes from being out on the water.

Nearly 40 percent of visitors to Maine in the summer of 2018 took part in water activities, according to research by the Maine Office of Tourism. Most of those visitors were from other New England states, traveling with their kids.

“If you’re in Maine and you’re not out on the water, you’re missing out on what makes Maine unique,” said Tracy Coughlin, marketing director for Freedom Boat Club, Yarmouth Boat Yard, and Moose Landing Marina. The Freedom Boat Club of Maine is helping more families discover recreational boating. Their rentals are moored in Portland, Yarmouth, and Naples. Steve Arnold, owner of the Freedom Boat Club franchise and the two marinas, started the program last year out of the Yarmouth Boat Yard. The premise is so popular they doubled their projected membership last year from 30 to 60.

the best way to relax and reconnect in Maine this summer is to get on a boat.

Photo courtesy of The Maine Highlands

Here’s how the Freedom Boat Club works. You sign up to become a member, pay a monthly fee, and get unlimited access to their 22- to 24-foot Sea Fox boats moored in southern Maine. Members also enjoy access to other Freedom Boat Clubs across the country. “It’s a great way for people to try out the boating lifestyle without making a huge investment in their own equipment,” Coughlin said. Not only does Freedom Boat Club of Maine offer beautiful boats and top-notch service, they also train you how to safely use and maneuver the boats. “Boat Clubs are changing the way people vacation; it’s a brand new way of boating in Maine,” Coughlin added.

Boating provides the means to get outside of daily routines, allowing our brains to reset, think beyond our current circumstances, and connect to nature. Here are more benefits to boating:

Boating resets our brain. We work hard and getting out from behind our desks gives our brains (and our bodies) a change of pace. Boating is a fun, active activity that you can do by yourself or with a group. Being on the water is as different from your cubicle as it gets.

Boating is meditative. The ebb and flow of the water is relaxing. Bobbing along in a boat, breathing in fresh air, helps connect you to nature.

Boating is playful. Watersports are a source of play, which trigger the body’s natural feel-good chemicals.

Maine is filled with opportunities to get on the water. Whether you’re looking to explore one of our beautiful bays on the Atlantic or go tubing around one of the vast many inland lakes, boating in Maine is a fun-filled activity all summer long. Here are some of our favorite places to take your motorboat this summer:

Photo courtesy of The Maine Highlands


Moosehead Lake is the largest lake in Maine and one of the state’s crown jewels. The lake is approximately 40 miles by 10 miles and is home to more than 80 islands. You may even see a moose hanging out in one of the quiet coves of this massive, rural lake. There are public boat launches in Greenville, Rockwood, and Seboomook. If you don’t have your own motorboat, you can rent one at Wilson’s on Moosehead, The Birches Resort, or Wilson Pond Camps.


This southern Maine lake is the second largest lake in the state after Moosehead. It’s the deepest lake in all of New England, making it a favorite with motorboating enthusiasts. Thanks to its location, (just 30 minutes from Portland) fishing opportunities and crystal clear water, make it a consistent draw for visitors from across New England. There are many marinas along the lake where you can fuel up, rent a boat, or purchase a boat for your own family fun. If you’re heading to Sebago Lake, check out Sebago Lake Marina, Long Beach Marina, Kettle Cove Marina, Richardson’s Boat Yard, Panther Run Marina, and Port Harbor Marine.


A popular inlet of the Gulf of Maine on the southern coast, Casco Bay is certainly a working waterfront. It’s also a great spot for exploring the islands that make the bay a unique setting for exploration. Motor your boat out of Four Points Marina and start island hopping. Explore the sandy beaches of Long Island or fine dining on Chebeague Island, Peaks Island, or Great Diamond Island. Bring along your camera and binoculars to spot seals and sea birds.


If pristine and serene are two adjectives that appeal to you, head north from Augusta and spend some time on the water in Maine’s Belgrade Lakes Region. You’ll want to pack your fishing pole for this trip. The Belgrade Lakes are a chain of seven freshwater lakes that range in size from 500 acres to more than 8,000 acres. Each of these lakes has a public boat launch and excellent fishing (just be sure you have the proper license). Visit the Belgrade Lakes Region Business Group to find local businesses that will make your boating trip to this region a memorable one.


Home to 13 lakes — and some of the most beautiful, relaxing views you’ll see in the state of Maine — the Lincoln Lakes Region is a lovely spot for some boating fun. The downtown area is located right on the shores of Mattanawcook Pond. There are six public boat launches in Lincoln, giving you access to several lakes and the Penobscot River. You can also fish for brook trout, lake trout, landlocked salmon, white perch, pickerel, and smallmouth bass.

Ready to launch your watercraft? Check out the hundreds of public boat launch sites on the Maine.gov website and enjoy the beauty of Maine from the cockpit this summer.

— Text: Melanie Brooks. Melanie has had the pleasure of writing and photographing her home state of Maine for the past 12 years. You can find her work at www.melanie-brooks.com.

Hikes & Brews: Stillwater River Trail & Marsh Island Brewing, by Carey Kish

Stillwater River Trail & Marsh Island Brewing

Pretty view along the Stillwater River Trail. Photo: Carey KishThe Stillwater River Trail wends easily over an old railroad grade (circa 1860s) along the Stillwater River from downtown Orono nearly to the islands and dam below the Stillwater Reservoir. When the sewer system (laid down under the railbed 50 years ago) needed repair in 2005, the town decided to create the walking trail, a three-mile out-and-back hike.

From the Bennoch Road trailhead, follow the placid Stillwater River west for a half-mile on private property before you reach the section owned by the Orono Land Trust, the pathway’s stewards. Mixed hardwoods and the occasional pine, then a grove of pretty paper birch, and finally some huge red oaks and impressive hemlocks punctuate the route. Near the Orono Water District building, retrace your steps to the parking area, but instead of turning up to it, continue along the river to Main Street and Marsh Island Brewing, which is directly across the road.

Moriah Lee at Marsh Island Brewing. Photo: Carey Kish

Moriah Lee serves up a flight.

A few years back, Jim Swett, the owner of Swett’s Tire and Auto in Bangor, and his wife, Alice, who owns Hogan Road Deli & Convenience next door, took notice when one of their master mechanics, Clay Randall, began winning numerous homebrewing awards. That’s when the trio put their heads together and decided to open a brewery. An old storage space in Orono seemed like the perfect location, so they rehabilitated the place and got to work, with the help of the Swett’s son, Prentiss.

The comfortable Marsh Island Brewing tasting room features a long bar and table tops made of huge white pine slabs, and 11 taps pouring a variety of high-quality, traditional recipes and contemporary brews. Downrigger IPA was the first beer the brewery produced and is still the standard bearer, while the hop-forward Pulp Truck IPA and the Wooly Bugger Pils are regulars as well. If they’re on tap, the Lime Gose is a refreshing treat on a nice summer or fall day, but then, so is the Peanut Butter, You Who? Chocolate Milk Stout.


Hike: Stillwater River Trail, oronolandtrust.org

Brew: Marsh Island Brewing, marshislandbrewing.com

— Text & Photo: Carey Kish of Mt. Desert Island. Carey is an avid beer drinker, editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide, and author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast.

Anytime after a running hiatus, runners in particular, need to be cognizant of developing overuse injuries as they get back into training.

Getting Back on the Road and Preventing IT Band Syndrome (ITBS)

While the most hardy Mainers continue to pound the pavement year round, most of us probably stick to cushioned treadmills in the gym, or even taking a breather over the winter months. But, whenever it’s time to get back out on the road anytime after a running hiatus, runners in particular, need to be cognizant of developing overuse injuries as they get back into training.  By keeping a few key points in mind, athletes can prevent or significantly decrease the severity of these frustrating (and sometimes devastating) injuries.

What is Iliotibial Band Syndrome?

Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) is an overuse injury caused by friction between the Iliotibial Band (on the outside of the thigh) and the lateral femoral condyle (outside portion of the knee).  It is most commonly seen in runners, cyclists, and other athletes who are repetitively flexing and extending the knee.   Pain is usually felt in the front/outside portion of the knee and can be extremely debilitating. ITBS accounts for up to 15% of overuse injuries around the knee, and running athletes are at highest risk.   

What causes ITBS?

Common causes for ITBS include a rapid increase in either the volume or intensity of running. A prime example is a runner who has not been running over the winter and returns at the same volume as he or she was running the previous season. Poor arch support from running shoes, particularly in athletes with a tendency to over pronate, also places runners at risk.  



Glute & hamstring strengthening


Inverted foot side leg raise
Foam Roller Stretch
Table Hangs


What to expect from medical intervention

ITBS is a fairly straightforward diagnosis.  However, it is important to see a sports medicine trained physician if you are having persistent pain around the knee that doesn’t respond to simple resting.  X-rays are typically normal in athletes with ITBS.  MRI can be useful in athletes with particularly severe cases in order to rule out more serious issues that may mimic ITBS including meniscus tears and stress fractures.  

On average, 90% of patients engaging in appropriate treatment will have resolution of symptoms within 4-8 weeks.  Treatment initially consists of rest, icing, and oral or topical NSAIDs.  Physical therapy with training modification is also a mainstay of treatment.  Therapy focuses on stretching of the ITB, lateral fascia, and gluteal muscles, deep transverse friction massage, strengthening hip abductor muscles, and proprioception exercises to improve neuromuscular coordination.  If initial attempts at conservative therapy fail to provide relief, a corticosteroid inject may be considered.

Tips for preventing and recognizing ITBS

Keep a running log. Increase your training intensity/volume by no more than 10% per week.

Consider including cross training with an exercise that does not require repetitive knee flexion/extension in your regimen. (i.e. swimming)

Allow a rest day once per week.

Warm up and focus on stretching before your runs.  A foam roller can be particularly helpful to stretch the IT Band.

Make sure you have appropriate arch support from your running shoes. Change your running shoes every 300-500 miles.

If you have worsening pain that comes progressively earlier in your runs and is not relived by rest, or if you have persistent pain, particularly at night, seek an evaluation with a sports medicine physician. 


— Text: Jonathan P. Watling, MD; Orthopaedic Surgery, Sports Medicine



Plocka Upp + Jogging = Plogging: A new way of running that is sweeping the nation

Plogging: A New Way of Running that is Sweeping the Nation

One of the best things about Maine is the diversity of landscapes. Whether it’s outside your front door or an hour or so drive to the mountains, the coast or a pristine lake, we get to enjoy a run or walk on beautiful roads, trails and beaches. It doesn’t get any better than this.

But it seems that just about wherever you go these days you find yourself running or walking by trash. More so on the roads but occasionally you’ll see trash on trails, too. A water bottle here, a beer can there. Plastic bags, paper cups, cardboard, Styrofoam. Even used diapers.

Many who run or walk by the trash will shake their heads. But the problem with the righteous-indignation response is the trash is still there on the side of the road. It takes about a millennium or longer for a plastic bottle to degrade in a landfill. Disposable diapers take up to 500 years.

So, here’s a novel idea that a crazy Swede came up with a few years ago: pick up the trash while you are running or walking.

No doubt you’ve heard of plogging by now. It’s a mashup of the Swedish word for picking up—plocka upp—and jogging, and it’s a global “thing.” Not only is plogging good for the planet, but also good for your health. That’s because you use different muscles to bend or squat to pick up trash. Consider it a form of CrossFit minus the type-A trainer screaming in your face.

I confess, I’m a plogger. It helps with my physical conditioning and it makes me feel good to do something positive for the planet. New Year’s Day 2019 was sunny and mild so I decided to go for a five mile plog. Unfortunately I only managed two miles because I hit plogger’s pay dirt. (See photo.) In all, I collected 32 pounds of trash consisting of 54 redeemable bottles and cans, some Styrofoam, two windshield wipers, and a lot of paper, cardboard, and plastic, and a frozen disposable diaper. Yes, I was wearing gloves.

Anyone can plog, you don’t need fancy shoes or moisture-wicking clothing. Just stuff a couple bags in your pocket (reusables are best) head out the door and start walking or running. You don’t know what you’ll discover.

— Text & Photo: Bruce Rayner. Bruce lives and plogs in Cape Elizabeth. He’s Chief Green Officer of Athletes for a Fit Planet and a member of the Maine Track Club. On March 11, the Town of Cape Elizabeth voted to make two weeks a year official Plogging Weeks – the week of Earth Day, April 21-28, and the week of Indigenous People’s Day, October 14-21.

Refueling with chocolate milk for mid-workout break.

A Competitor’s Nutrition Guide

Competitor's Nutrition Guide - Tara WhitonThe number one mistake I see when working with all athletes of all levels is under-fueling. I think most people feel that in order to perform better, they need to keep a slim figure and that this can be achieved by eating the bare minimum needed to sustain performance.

Nutritional Guide for Runners and Athletes

Long-term athletic success is not sustainable without proper nutrition, and eventually the body will break down, whether it is from injury or other health issues. Athletes need to eat enough to sustain their bodily functions (based on how much lean muscle mass they have) and then eat to perform on top of that. Performance nutrition does not come out of your body’s energy to live and often people confuse these two things.

By fueling enough for your body, brain and your performance level, every running foot strike, every rep, every soccer ball kick, etc., can be utilized more efficiently with an optimized nutrition plan.

This plan is based on 4 personal nutritional questions for athletes to ask themselves in order to improve their overall health and performance:

  • Am I fueling enough with my current diet?
  • What are my macronutrient choices? (carb, protein, fat amounts)
  • What is my nutrient timing through out the day?
  • What daily and performance supplements do I take?

These questions are important to address because often athletes will mistakenly focus solely on macronutrient choices without knowing if they are actually consuming enough in the first place. Depending on the desired length of performance, if you don’t consume enough fuel to sustain you, the type of food you eat will not matter as much.

Another common mistake is that people think that supplementing will help them perform better. I always say, until you know you are dialed into the first 3 steps above, a supplement of any kind will not do anything to help and you may end up wasting your money.

So how do you know if you are eating enough or too much? Linking up with a Certified Sport Nutritionist or Registered Dietitian is a good place to start.

It is helpful to find a professional who can assess how much lean muscle mass you have through anthropometric measurements. Typically they will assess how much body fat you have, and be able to indirectly calculate your lean muscle mass from there.

Assessing lean muscle mass through anthropomorphic measurement

By assessing your unique physiology and training goals, the right professional will be able to customize a nutrition plan that will sustain your lean muscle mass and support your daily training and competition schedule. A hint for finding the right help: if you are training regularly, your nutrition plan should not be the same day to day. Just like training, your nutrition plan should also be periodized toward your daily training goals.

If hiring a professional nutritional support is out of reach, the next option would be to eat a balanced diet – meaning items from each food group (or substituting if you have a food allergy) – and eat frequently. I like to tell clients to aim for 6-7 meals per day, each meal containing carbs, fats, and proteins, and to aim to eat every 2-3 hours. This will at the very least ensure that your body is fueled at all times and not going through periods of energy depletion. While this may sound daunting, it is very easy when you break it down like this:

  • Breakfast
  • Pre/Post Workout fuel
  • Snack
  • Lunch
  • Snack
  • Dinner
  • Snack

People fright at the thought of eating “this much,” but this is what is takes to perform whether it is in sport, exercise, mentally at work, in relationships, etc. Your body and brain will thank you and you will achieve far more than you ever thought you could!

A good summary of this guideline is found in a favorite quote of mine: “I don’t diet, I just eat according to my goals”. I think if people regularly adopt this mindset they can overcome a lot of the biases that are out there in regard to nutrition and what is “healthy.”

— Text & Photos: Tara Whiton. Tara has her PhD in Sport Physiology and Performance and a master’s degree in Exercise Science and Nutrition. She is a certified strength and conditioning coach (CSCS), Certified Exercise Physiologist, Certified Anthropometrist, and Certified Sport Nutritionist. She can be reached at tara.k.whiton@gmail.com or her Instagram @timandtara for more information.

Early specialization in youth sports: Are your kids at risk? - by Stan Skolfield, ATC, CSCS

Early Specialization in Youth Sports

In 1997 Tiger Woods drained the final putt of a record-setting performance at the Masters, millions of parents, coaches, and educators watched in awe. By age 21 he was the most formidable force in the sporting world. Either conscious or sub-conscious, these well-documented facts galvanized the early specialization movement. Best-selling books such as Outliers, The Talent Code, and Bounce are wonderful accounts of the grueling ascent to expertise. However, they might create as much trouble as inspiration. The message received by parents and coaches often places early specialization into one sport above the value of diverse movement. More importantly, it’s held high above “play.” 

Tiger joined a list of young phenoms like Mozart and Bobby Fischer; people who got in their 10,000 hours at a remarkably young age. The message is loud and clear to many parents and sport coaches: start your kids young. However, I think the real lessons are distorted. When I think of starting young, the intent should always be developing the fundamentals that can apply to all branches of a discipline. For Mozart, that’s developing pitch and scales; for Bobby Fischer its reading people and learning strategies in Chess; for athletes, it’s the fundamental patterns of movement. It’s not about sending your kid to pitching camp at age 9. It is about playing football or soccer in the fall, basketball or wrestling in winter, and track or lacrosse in spring. It is about learning how to run, rotate, lunge, skip, and pivot. What can be developed is fundamental to athleticism: acceleration, deceleration, rotational power, read and react, etc. No one sport corners the market on these skills. Likewise, no one sport should dominate the lives of children or even young adults.

Before you send Suzy out to that summer camp, understand that collegiate coaches look as much for athleticism as anything else. They want their players to be athletes first and it is best developed by a wide range of sports. Early specialization can accomplish this but it carries the likely prices of burnout and overuse injuries.

It’s unfair to draw from a sample of one but we can look deeper into the early phenomenon and find more clues. Athletes like Tracy Austin, Jennifer Capriati and Ty Tryon (there are many more) all reached notoriety at a very young age, and subsequently slipped due to injury and burnout. 

Research has clearly shown that the body will accomplish an assigned task with little regard to correct movement mechanics. So if a 12-year old is pitching 8 months a year, the task remains the same but the movements will change due to fatigue. This is the platform for developing an overuse injury. Statistics show these are on the rise. The same holds true for any posture specific to a single sport. It’s why swimmers have a hard time with good shoulder mechanics and tennis players struggle to hip hinge. It’s precisely why baseball and softball athletes should pick up a soccer ball. 

Let’s be clear: there is nothing wrong with sending a child to soccer camp over the summer. Problems occur when a child plays the same sport year-round. There is no suggestion to drop the concept of hard work or “deliberate practice.” Simply put, a child’s 10,000 hours should be spent moving in all kinds of environments and being a part of different sport cultures; aka “playing.” What comes of this is a group of athletes who are: a) less likely to burn out; b) more capable of adapting to a new coaching style (an underrated piece of the puzzle); and c) less likely to be injured. These players will look like athletes and work in whatever sport they end up loving. So feel free to work on those 10,000 hours, but don’t drive by the playground on your way to Jimmy’s “elite” summer hockey league. Stop the car and let him go play. 

— Text and Photos: Stan Skolfield, ATC, CSCS is the owner of Skolfield Sports Performance and has over 20 years of experience as a Certified Athletic Trainer and Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He is a leader in the fields of sports performance and athletic training with a concentration in youth sports. He has worked with athletes from 7 years old, up to the elite professional level. He can be reached at: stan@skolfieldperformance.com or on Facebook: Skolfield Sports Performance.

Hikes & Brews: Jockey Cap and Saco River Brewing, by Josh Christie

Hikes & Brews: Jockey Cap and Saco River Brewing

A short hike off Route 302 in Fryeburg, Jockey Cap looks down on the Saco River valley and the Fryeburg area. In the 1930s, the hill was briefly a ski area — and home to Maine’s first rope tow — but has since found a second life as a family hiking destination. From a trailhead behind Quinn’s Jockey Cap Motel and Country Store, the trail quickly climbs 200 feet over rocks and roots to the summit. The quarter-mile climb from the parking lot to the peak is steep, but not terribly taxing —  most hikers can probably make a round trip in less than a half hour, without breaking a sweat. The reward at the summit (beyond the panoramic view from nearby Sebago Lake to farther Grafton Notch and Mount Washington) is the spectacular Peary monument. With a large metal compass dedicated to Arctic explorer Robert E. Peary, the monument details all the surrounding landmarks in striking profile.

It’s easy to find your way to Saco River Brewing from Jockey Cap, as the brewery is literally across the street from the trailhead. Tucked behind the Two Black Dogs Country Pub and steps from the namesake Saco River, the brewery opened in 2016. The small tasting room and brewery, built out from an old metal fabrication shop, maintains the industrial feel, with concrete floors and a poured concrete bar painted with an approximation of the Saco River. A red Old Town canoe hangs over the bar and a glass wall holds the ever-changing tap list (offering a window into the brewery). Visible just beyond the wall is a barrel —  filled with beer, natch — and the production portion of the brewery. Still in operation in the foreground is a small, one-barrel pilot system, where owner Mason Irish can brew small batches of beer to serve at the brewery.


Hike: Jockey Cap Glacial Erratic, Fryeburg, Maine

Brew: Saco River Brewing 207-256-3028

— Text & Photo: Josh Christie. Josh is the author of a number of books on beer and the Maine outdoors, as well as co-owner of Print: A Bookstore in Portland, Maine.

2019 Gear Trends

2019 Gear Trends

RaceME sat down with John Rogers, owner of Fleet Feet Sports Maine Running in Portland Maine, and Erin Flatley, Marketing and Social Media Manager, to learn about trends we can expect to see in running gear this year.

Starting with shoe trends, John said, “I see the future of shoe innovations continue to be aided by the latest technology in 3D imaging and scanning. This precise data combined with in-store gait analysis, makes it easier to assess proper sizing based on a person’s foot type, individual shape of arches and pressure points. These advanced imaging tools give us more accurate details for measuring gait characteristics from ‘heel strike’ to ‘toe off’ with significant information in real time. In the future, I see more shoe stores having the ability to create personalized inserts and footwear right in the store.”

A Fleet Feet and Karhu Collaboration

The Karhu Ikoni is a revolutionary development in the world of running shoes. This shoe was shaped by foot-scan data from more than 100,000 Fleet Feet fit id images (see more about fit id below). That means real feet dictated the specific design of the shoe and that Fleet Feet customers, owners and employees (maybe even you?) are part of development process. Stop into either Maine Fleet Feet store location and find out more information about this unique footwear.

RaceME's 2019 Gear Trendsfit id™

fit id™ creates a 3D scan of a person’s feet and provides specific measurements including foot width, length, and arch height. The scan takes five seconds to complete and appears on an in-store tablet, allowing the fit specialist to review, discuss observations, and find solutions together with the individual. Customers can get re-scanned on future visits, so Fleet Feet Sports staff can discuss any changes in measurements. fit id™ helps create a powerful in-store experience for customers that is free and they can’t get online. The technology also includes a kids’ scanning feature, which incorporates a gaming element into the scanning process.

Though there are numerous factors that come into play when assessing shoe mileage – from training styles and surfaces to your body weight and mechanics – replacing your shoes every 300 to 500 miles of wear is a general practice for athletes. Because of these very unique circumstances, Erin Flatly from Fleet Feet Sports Maine Running gives us some personalized indicators to follow to when it comes time to start shopping for the next pair of shoes.

Erin recommends to go by feel. “If it doesn’t feel like it used to and you notice subtle changes in how the shoes conform to your foot or how it is performing while you run, that is sign of wear. Also take notice if physical signs in your body such as certain twinges, shin splints or aches that start to come on gradually, because that is another key sign. Other physical signs that you need new shoes are any blisters or hot spots on your heel from the back of the shoe wearing down, or if the shoe is not feeling stable to you.”
Shoes are a very personal piece of equipment for many athletes, requiring a lot of research and trial and error to find the right brand, style and fit.

RaceME's 2019 Gear TrendsExtend the life of your shoes

1. Only wear the running shoes when running. “Mileage is mileage, and even just standing, due to the compression, will take its toll,” said Joey Michaud, Fleet Feet Maine Running stores’ Retail Experience Manager, who then provided a great analogy “It’s similar to how carbonated beverages lose fizz over time and go flat. It’s the same with the composites that make up the encapsulated air inside the shoe material. With every step, you are compressing that material down further and further.”

2. Alternate with another shoe around halfway through the life of your main running shoe and and slowly incorporate it in. This allows your main shoes longer time to recover between runs, which allow them to maintain their structural integrity for longer.

3. Do not wash your shoes in a washing machine. Instead, use a sponge and a toothbrush with soap and water. If you do get your shoes soaking wet on a run, take the laces and inserts out and let all parts dry completely.

Palace Diner, Biddeford Maine

Biddeford on the Map

Maine’s new ‘It’ city takes the throne

Since its earliest days as a European settlement in the 1600s, Biddeford has bustled with industry, fuelled by the relentless surge of the Saco River that snakes through the heart of the town. These days, designers and distillers have replaced the textile workers and shipbuilders throughout the redbrick mill district that defines the cityscape. The Pepperell Mill building now houses more than 100 small businesses, and this creativity spills out through the streets, where new talent mingles with familiar faces among the city’s cozy restaurants, bars, and boutiques that are sure to entice you in from the snowy sidewalk.

Banded Brewing, Biddeford Main
The Tasting Room at Banded Brewing.

So whether you’re a first-time visitor or a staycationer looking to explore a new corner of Maine, Biddeford is a feast of experiences.

Before you declare Portland to be Maine’s unrivaled gastronomic star, take a tour of its southern cousin, a newly minted foodie destination in its own right. Suddenly, we’re spoiled with choices. Begin your day with breakfast at Palace Diner. The city’s worst-kept secret, the train-car diner, is a magnet for brunch hunters even on weekdays. Any wait you endure will be worth it though, once you bite into that crunchy fried chicken or syrup-smothered French toast at the long counter. Bring cash and an empty stomach. If you’re looking for something a little more on-the-go, Rover Bagels serves fire-blistered bagels and pizza fresh from its wood-fired oven to enjoy on a cold day as you wander around the corner to Main Street. If you cross the street, you might spot a pink- and yellow-hued mural covering an exterior wall. That’s the first clue that you’ve stumbled across Elements, a quirky coffee shop specializing in coffee, books and beer. Is there a better trio out there? It’s easy to lose an hour browsing titles and sipping your brew of choice within its buttercream-colored walls.

Elements: Books, coffee, beer, and a cozy place to stop in the winter.

Foodies can find pages of inspiration at the city’s dedicated cookbook store, Rabelais. If that kick-starts your appetite again, Elda on Main Street has national critics clamouring over its seasonal Maine-inspired dishes. If you’re looking to treat yourself to a special meal, this is the place to do it. And for an authentic Maine Italian, make a beeline for George’s Sandwich Shop, a Biddeford institution that can whip up a classic sub for you in minutes. 

Pepperell Mill, Biddeford Maine
The Pepperell Mill.

But to truly appreciate Biddeford’s recent appeal, one need only look to the burgeoning scene of brewers and distillers, many of whom are earning national recognition for their creations. For a glimpse of the city’s growing momentum, visit its creative engine: the Pepperell Mill, the 35-acre mill district in the heart of Biddeford downtown. Amid the local business, artisans and even glassblowers, you can enjoy a pint at Banded Brewing’s lively taproom. The winter seasonal stout – the Jolly Woodsman, made with Portland’s Speckled Ax coffee – will give you a boost as you play arcade and board games.  If you prefer the harder stuff, Round Turn Distilling is just next door, offering award-winning Bimini Gin in a selection of winter cocktails. Sample straight or enjoy blended up in a Hot Toddy or with spiced syrup and pineapple juice in a Pacific Rim cocktail. Additionally, Dirigo Brewing on Pearl Street in the mill district and Run of the Mill brewpub on Factory Island, are both excellent spots to nurse a drink or a small plate while watching the icy currents of the Saco River churn past the window.

Work off all this indulgence with a visit to the shorefront; Biddeford Pool is the area’s exclusive oceanfront zip code. Parking on Gilbert Place is mercifully quiet during the winter, allowing you to access the wide, sandy beach for a bracing walk beside the icy surf. Or visit the Rachel Carson Wildlife Center and walk 2.5-mile out-and-back trail from Timber Point Trailhead out to the ocean. Along the way you might spot the wild residents who call this little pocket of natural splendor home. 

— Text & photos: Saisie Moore. Saisie has worked at Portland Monthly and The Daily Telegraph in London. When she’s not writing, she explores Maine and beyond in a converted camper van with mountain bike in tow. 

Safety Gear for the Road

As many of you stack firewood or get the oil tanks filled preparing for the next storm, it’s a good time to prepare your vehicle for winter travel as well. Here are a few items that you should always have in an emergency kit in your vehicle.

For the vehicle

  • A good set of jumper cables
  • Tow strap or chain
  • A full-size spare tire if possible
  • A basic tool kit
  • Road flares

For you and passengers

A backpack or a tote in your trunk should contain batteries, a flashlight, an emergency radio, a space blanket and/or winter sleeping bag, an extra pair of socks, gloves and a hat, water and snacks (especially high-energy bars), matches and/or a lighter, candles, a first aid kit, a knife/multi tool, and a small shovel.

Most people who live in the Northeast and in very rural areas need to carry the above items at a minimum. It is easy to plan for an outdoor adventure such as skiing, camping or ice fishing, but if you find yourself stranded between point A and point B, it could be a life-or-death situation if you have not prepared accordingly. If you’re going to venture out, make sure to rip this page out, tape it to your dashboard, and buy these items before the ice and snow start to fly. 

— Text & Photo: Alex Ribar

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