Greg and Kelsey Glynn after the Trek Across Maine

Four Tips to Teach Your Child How to Ride a Bike

Learning to ride a bike can be nerve-wracking for a child just first starting out and for the parent who is running alongside, trying to keep up the encouragement. The good news is with a little practice and the proper mindset, it can also be fun and rewarding.

Greg and his daughter Kelsey

Last year, I taught my daughter Kelsey how to ride her bike. In less than two months, she went from teetering on her pink Shopkins bike with training wheels to riding in the virtual Trek Across Maine. When she turned nine, she quickly grew out of her first bike and upgraded to her current Pacific Cycle Bubble Pop 20″ Kids’ Bike. If you are looking to get your child on a bike this year, here are four helpful tips.

1. Build confidence first. Purchase a bike helmet that fits and makes your child feel good. Having a “cool” helmet builds his or her pride and self-assurance.

Based on your child’s age and ability, start with a tricycle or training wheels. Even if this seems too easy, it will set your child up for success to take the next step. Let your child tell you when he or she is ready to take off the training wheels. 

Be sure to start in a large, flat parking lot or dead-end circle. Practicing in secluded areas will allow you both to focus and you won’t have to worry about traffic or other distractions.

2. Set the expectations. After the training wheels come off, the first fall is inevitable and part of the process. It is important to tell your child a couple of falls at first are going to be expected and that in itself, is not failure. Setting this expectation lets your child know it is OK to fall. Make sure your child is wearing wear elbow or knee pads to start. With every fall off the bike, your child develops trust in you as a teacher knowing these expectations.

3. Teach the rules of the road. As a parent, educating your son or daughter about the rules of the road before going out riding with friends is a critical part of keeping them all safe.

As your rider learns how to coordinate the handlebars with the pedals, it is important to teach your child the rules of the road. This includes everything from following traffic signs to using hand signals. A great way to practice is in settled neighborhoods, then in more populated areas, and eventually on busier streets and intersections. Every ride is an opportunity to learn increasingly complicated road rules.

4. Have fun! Cycling is a fun and safe activity for all ages. I have really enjoyed getting back on a bike again. Before starting the Trek Across Maine with Kelsey, I can’t remember the last time I rode my bike. The Trek Across Maine has motivated us to get outside, exercise more, and spend time together. I cherish each ride with her. Kids grow up so fast. During our rides we have enjoyed time with friends, seeing animals, and talking about random topics, including why bikes aren’t allowed at drive-thru restaurants, and of course our plans for the summer. I know I will look back years from now and not only remember our rides, but most importantly the trust and bond we built riding together. 

Story & Photos by Greg Glynn


Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School

GO CLIMB A ROCK!

Voted #1 family activity in Maine and rated the #1 activity in Bar Harbor every year since 2014 on Trip Advisor, the Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School has been featured by Outside Magazine, National Geographic Adventure Magazine, Bill Green’s Maine Outdoors, CBS, The Travel Channel, and many more.  Meet the guides and experience the AMGCS difference.

Can I Do It?

Can my family do it? Virtually anyone can rock climb. The guides at Acadia Mountain Guides say: “If you want to experience it, there are climbs for all ages and abilities in the park!” They regularly climb with clients from children to folks in their eighties.  It’s a great activity for an individual, couples, families, or groups and requires only a moderate level of fitness.

Photo: Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School

Is it safe?

Just like driving a car, rock climbing carries some level of risk, but is not an extreme sport. Professional guides focus on minimizing your risks and each year, thousands of people climb safely for the first time. Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School outfits you with all needed safety equipment, such as helmets and harnesses, and provides you with expert instruction, guiding you every step of the way, so you can focus on the fun.

Who should I climb with?

In Maine, Acadia Mountain Guides has a long history of providing great instruction. They are accredited by the American Mountain Guides Association and the Professional Climbing Instructors Association. They have been under the same ownership since opening in 1993. AMG is led by internationally-licensed IFMGA guide Jon Tierney. Jon is one of 138 U.S. guides to achieve the IFMGA award, signifying the pinnacle of achievement for guides. The guides who work for Jon say he has been at the forefront of guide education for more than two decades. They appreciate his mentorship, attention to detail, and desire to constantly improve the delivery and safety of climbing instruction. You will too!

 

CLIMBING & ADVENTURE CAMPS
Since 2001, Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School has offered summer camps to youth 9-18. All camps encourage self-discovery, responsibility, fitness, and fun!  The outdoors is a great classroom and ideal for teaching decision-making, personal confidence, and teamwork, while learning new skills and having a blast. AMGCS was one of the first climbing schools in the nation to offer specialized rock climbing camps staffed by certified instructors and guides in a summer camp format. Have all the fun and excitement of summer camp with the reassurance of professional leadership! 


Rangeley Lakes Region

Rangeley: A Summer Paradise

Maine’s Rangeley Lakes Region includes more than the 10-square-mile lake itself, extending to five other large lakes and hundreds of smaller lakes and ponds. Add rivers and streams, two mountains – Saddleback and The Horn — just east of the lake, and mile after mile of forests and what do you get? A paradise for those who love the great outdoors and all the activities it invites. Fishing, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, climbing, camping, cycling, wildlife watching, or just lazing beside the lake – whatever your summer bliss, you’ll find it here.

Hikers and climbers have their choice of woodland trails or several mountains. Bald Mountain Hiking Trail, between Rangeley and Mooselookmeguntic lakes, climbs to an altitude of 2,443 feet for 360-degree views over both lakes.

Biking in Rangeley

Photo: Chris Riley

AJ Cycles (207-864-2850) on Maine Street in downtown Rangeley rents and sells fat bikes. They are a full-service bike shop, if your bike needs a tune-up or repairs. Take a rental from AJ’s to the extensive network of trails at the Rangeley Lakes Trail Center.

Golfers will appreciate the scenic Mingo Springs Golf Course, a favorite of both beginners and scratch players. Although the course is relatively short, it’s challenging, and birders love it for the variety of species that nest alongside the course.

All the lakes and ponds surrounded by forest make a prime wildlife habitat, and moose-watching and photography is one of the region’s most popular activities. If roadside “stakeouts” between Rangeley and Eustis — a favorite moose-spotting spot — aren’t enough, take a moose-watching tour with prize-winning moose caller Matt Tinker through Green Farm Guide Service.

With lakes on every side, it’s hard not to spend some time enjoying water sports. Lakeside Park, on Main Street in Rangeley, has a free sandy beach with lifeguards, picnic tables and changing rooms, while Rangeley Lake State Park, on the lake’s south shore, has a beach with lifeguards; it charges a small day-use fee.

Mingo Springs Golf Course

Nice views from Mingo Springs Golf Course

To explore the lakes and ponds and enjoy the wildlife that make their homes on the shore, rent a canoe or kayak at Ecopelagicon Kayak Rentals on Pond Street in Rangeley. Single and double kayaks, canoes, and standup paddleboards can be rented by the hour, day, or week. Ecopelagicon also offers tours and lessons in all three sports.

You can find equipment and clothing for all your water sports and other outdoor activities at Rangeley Region Sports Shop in Rangeley or at Rivers Edge Sports Shop in Oquossoc.

The area has plenty more lodging options. The Rangeley Inn and Tavern overlooking Haley Pond in the center of town, has rooms with lake and mountain views, as well as a farm-to-table dining room. 

Rooms at the pet-friendly Town and Lake Motel, are on a beach within easy walking distance of restaurants and shops, have beautiful lakefront views; some have well-equipped kitchenettes. 

Caryn Dreyfuss can help you find your own little spot of heaven in the Rangeley region, whether it’s a cozy cabin in the woods or a family-sized lakeside retreat.


Paddling in Maine

Quiet Waters: Discover the Path Less Paddled

There’s nothing quite like Maine summer days on the water and nights under canvas. Combine the two and you’ve got the recipe for an unforgettable trip. More secluded than traditional campgrounds – with the opportunity to bring a little more gear in your boat than you could backpack – paddle camping is an accessible adventure for families and beginners alike. With a little planning and knowledge, canoe and kayak camping trips grant paddlers access to some of the most secluded and idyllic camping spots in Maine.

PortlandPaddle Camping on a Beach

The many islands of Casco Bay make a beautiful backdrop to Portland’s city skyline. However, there’s much more here than a view – a paddling trip to one of the bay’s islands affords a whole new perspective. “Experiencing the sights and smells of the ocean from the vantage point of a kayak is exciting enough,” said Portland Paddle owner and co-founder Zack Anchors. “But here in Casco Bay we also have fascinating islands, forts, and lighthouses to explore” Portland Paddle orchestrates ocean adventures from the East End Beach each summer. While the busy waters of Casco Bay may look intimidating, guides are trained to lead paddlers of every ability. “Our team of guides take things to the next level. They are skilled at making sure each person has the support they need to have fun paddling on the ocean.” 

Preparing for paddle campingDay trips are available morning through sunset, but the really memorable experiences are made over multi-day adventures. “We offer a three-day trip called the Casco Bay Traverse that gives a great introduction to kayak camping on the Maine coast,” said Anchors. “There are so many islands to explore that each trip is different. That said, Jewell Island and Whaleboat Island are two of our favorite islands for camping – with gorgeous scenery, lots of wildlife and amazing oceanside campsites.” Groups generally paddle 10 miles or less each day, though it varies a lot based on current and wind conditions. Portland Paddle guides also cook nourishing meals, so you can relax and explore the islands after coming ashore. 

The experience of moving with wind and water between the islands creates a profound connection that you just can’t find from a ferry or powerboat. Anchors recalled a foggy morning paddle on the bay that was etched into his memory: “There was deep silence and glassy calm waters. I heard the puffing sound of porpoises breathing through their blowholes. We spotted the triangular fins of the pod arching above the waterline nearby, just as an osprey dove and grabbed a fish from the water.” 

Midcoast

Ready for your own adventure? Gather your gear and head to Richmond, where you can launch your boat into the Kennebec River. From there, you can paddle downstream toward Merrymeeting Bay, where the Kennebec and five other rivers flow into the bay (although this area doesn’t front directly onto the ocean). This confluence of fresh and salt waters is a rare and abundant source of life, particularly for waterfowl and fish such as Atlantic salmon, shad, and sturgeon that travel upstream to spawn. The unusual geology also means the river is tidal and subject to strong currents. It’s essential you check tide charts before starting out, and try to stay along the edge of the bay’s quieter western shore. 

Once you’ve had your fill of adventure, return to the calm shores of Swan Island, which fills the mouth of the Kennebec. This four-mile-long island houses 10 Adirondack shelters overlooking a large field and a dock, which can be booked in advance for a small fee. Light a campfire or wander the seven miles of trails that wind through the island and explore the island’s historical structures, which once housed a community of around 100 farmers in the 1800s. 

Rangeley Lakes Region

Paddle camping planningIf you’re ready to get out there and explore, the Rangeley Lake region is a must-see destination for canoe camping. Explore any of the six major lakes by day, and when you’re ready to set up camp, find your way to South Arm at the very tip of Little Richardson Lake. The main site is situated on the sandy shoreline with 38 paddle-in sites scattered as far as 15 miles up into Greater Richardson, through a section called The Narrows. 

The scale of the lake should not be underestimated, especially if you’re planning to paddle way out. Ensure you pack plenty of water and warm clothes. Hug the shoreline as you paddle, where the winds that can rush down the lake won’t exert such a great force on your boat – and always wear a PFD. 

Pick a spot within sight of the beach and main campground or cover some distance to find total seclusion in stunning surrounds of spruce, cedar and white pine beside crystal clear waters. Spirit Island campsite in the very middle of Little Richardson Lake is unbeatable for views and a deserted island feel. 

With a stretch of water behind you and the sun low overhead, it’s a little easier to leave worries on the mainland while you soak up the peace and serenity that an offshore camping adventure can provide. 

— Story by Saisie Moore. Saisie is a freelance writer and gardener living on Munjoy Hill in Portland.


Practice “Leave No Trace” principles to Preserve the Environment and Experience for All

Leave No Trace

Practice Leave No Trace Principles to Preserve the Environment and Experience for All

New to the Maine outdoors this summer? Don’t forget to pack the seven “Leave No Trace” principles when you go!

Empty trails like this were a little harder to find in this pandemic year.

Empty trails like this were a little harder to find in this pandemic year.

The woods and waters of Maine have seen a monumental increase in outdoor recreation use during the continuing pandemic. This summer and fall promise more of the same with a burgeoning number of new and existing enthusiasts looking to spend some quality time outside enjoying Mother Nature’s bountiful beauty. 

Your environmental impact matters, and so does that of every other hiker, paddler, mountain biker and camper out there. The combined effects are enormous and have land managers struggling to keep up with an unprecedented demand that is stressing the carrying capacity of trails, facilities and trailheads across Maine. 

Leave No Trash

Discarded masks were a signature item of trash along trails this past year.

Trash—such as candy bar wrappers, soda bottles, face masks, tissues, and toilet paper—was just one of the big issues that plagued Maine’s popular outdoor spots last year. Doggy poop bags, random camping, illegal fire pits in fragile places, stripping bark from birch trees, hacking down live trees for firewood, cutting switchbacks, building stacks of rock art, and leaving behind painted rocks were other examples of irresponsible practices that had deleterious physical and visual effects and diminished the experience for everyone.  

It is critically important for everyone who ventures into the Maine woods to know the seven Leave No Trace principles which encourage the responsible, safe, and enjoyable use of our outdoor resources. As far as possible, we should each practice these ethics and, where appropriate, gently educate and inform others on the impacts of their less than desirable choices and what the positive alternatives are. 

The first principle, “Plan Ahead and Prepare,” sets you on the right course for following through with the other six. By maximizing your safety and comfort with good preparation you help to minimize your impact on the environment and others. 

When you “Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces,” you’re sticking to bare rock, dry grass, sand, and established trails and campsites. In designated areas, concentrate use; in pristine areas, disperse use. 

To “Dispose of Wastes Properly,” pack out all the garbage you pack in, plus that of others less considerate.

If there’s a privy – however primitive – along the trail, use it.

Disperse the gray water from dish washing and tooth brushing away from fresh water sources. Human waste needs to be dropped into a properly dug cat hole in the organic layer of the soil. Carry and use a small trowel designed for this purpose; a stick or the heel of your shoe won’t do. Always pack out leftover food and containers, used toilet paper, menstrual products, and used baby wipes. If there’s a privy available, please use it.

The fourth principle is easy: “Leave What You Find.” Just remember the old slogan of the 1970s, “Take only pictures; leave only footprints.” Just imagine if everyone took home a souvenir.  

The best way to “Minimize Campfire Impacts” is to forego a fire and use a camp stove. If you must have a fire, use an established fire ring and keep the blaze small.

Illegal fires and firepits are not only an eyesore, but represent a real potential hazard to the woods.

When collecting firewood, remember the four Ds: dead, down, diameter (small) and distant (100 feet or more from camp). Never leave a campfire unattended, and when you depart, make sure your campfire is stone cold out!

Respect Wildlife” by keeping your distance and never feeding them, not only for your own safety, but also to minimize their dependence on human interaction. Hang your food out of critter reach and keep your pets properly leashed.   

Finally, “Be Considerate of Other Visitors” by limiting noise (loud conversation, radios) and lights (lanterns, headlamps). 

Each one of us acting a good steward will help our officials do their job of protecting our precious natural resources. Being courteous and respectful always will ensure that you’ll be welcomed back to the special outdoors places you know and love.

For more info on the full spectrum of Leave No Trace outdoor ethics, visit lnt.org.   

— Story & 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.


Summer Fun on Maine’s South Coast: Kennebunkport and York

Miles of white sand, saltwater taffy, long estuaries to explore by kayak, one of Maine’s most iconic lighthouses – what’s not to love about that stretch of shore between Kennebunkport and York?

The quartet of beach towns —Kennebunkport, Wells, Ogunquit, and York — couldn’t offer more variety if they tried. Wells and York are all about families kicking back. Kennebunkport and Ogunquit are known as more high-end enclaves, although their beautiful beaches are open to all and each offers a wide range of lodging and dining choices. 

For a traditional shore dinner go to Mabel’s Lobster Claw (mabelslobster.com). If you’re lucky, the signature Lobster Milanese – grilled shrimp and lobster – will be on the day’s menu. On Route 1, taste craft beers at Sebago Brewing (sebagobrewing.com).

Get a different view of Cape Porpoise or the Kennebunk River on a guided tour with Coastal Maine Kayak and Bike (coastalmainekayak.com) in Kennebunkport or join them for paddleboard lessons or tours. They welcome all skill levels and offer bike and scooter rentals, too. 

The 220 grassy sites at Sea-Vu Campground (sea-vucampground.com) include shaded tent sites as well as RV sites with full hook-ups, TV and WiFi. Everyone loves the setting overlooking the ocean and families appreciate the large pool and mini-golf course, as well as the trolley stop at the front gate for car-free beach access. 

Experience a different coastal environment at the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge on Route 9. A mile-long interpretive trail winds through a coastal forest and along tidal marshes where sightings of heron, egrets, and sea birds are common (www.fws.gov/refuge/rachel_carson). Just across a tidal creek, the Wells Reserve at Laudholm has seven miles of walking trails (www.wellsreserve.org).

The Maine Diner on Route 1 in Wells is no secret. For more than 30 years it’s been serving fried clams, chowder, blueberry pie, and all the other Maine coast favorites (www.MaineDiner.com). Get more suggestions of things to do at the Wells Chamber of Commerce visitor center or check (www.wellschamber.com).

Not all of the fun is within the sight of the sea. Head inland to Sanford to find Mountain View Golf Range, a family-friendly center with mini-golf, a driving range and batting cages (mountainviewgolfrange.com).

York is a family favorite, not only for its beaches (descriptively named Long and Short Sands), but for Maine’s most iconic lighthouse, Nubble Light at Cape Neddick. Add The Golden Rod,
www.thegoldenrod.com, famed over a century for its saltwater taffy and New England’s only zoo/amusement park at York’s Wild Kingdom, www.yorkswildkingdom.com, and you have a winner. 

You can’t camp closer to the beach than at Libby’s Oceanside Camping, www.libbysoceancamping.com in York Harbor, overlooking the mile-and-a-half Long Sands. Owned by the third generation of the family that founded it in 1923, Libby’s offers full hook-ups, TV, and free WiFi, but best of all are the ocean views from nearly every site and direct beach access. 

— Story by Bobbie Randolph
Bobbie writes about her favorite Maine experiences, from camping and kayaking to skiing and dogsledding.

 


How to Rewild Ourselves: Can the remedy to stressful modern lives be found in the forest? by Saisie Moore

How to Rewild Ourselves

Can the remedy to stressful modern lives be found in the forest?

If you’ve spent less time on familiar downtown streets and more time among the trails and trees of our public lands during the past year, you’re not alone. Everyone from seasoned hikers to the previously outdoor-averse responded to a collective yearning for space and calm. Now that we’re learning there’s more to our excursions than just exercise and good views, what knowledge and practices can help us maintain an essential connection to the wild – and in doing so, improve health and well-being?

Forest Therapy Guide and Registered Maine Guide Jeanne Christie leads a forest bathing outing. Photo courtesy Jeanne Christie.

Forest Therapy Guide and Registered Maine Guide Jeanne Christie leads a forest bathing outing. Photo courtesy Jeanne Christie.

Into the Woods

When John Muir wrote of “going into the forest to lose my mind and find my soul,” he may have inadvertently described the art and science of shinrin yoku, the Japanese characters for “forest bath.” 

Forest Therapy Guide and Registered Maine Guide Jeanne Christie discovered this concept of forest bathing for herself one day during a trail run. “Several years ago, I found myself stopped on the trail, looking around at the trees with a sudden desire to stay still,” she said. After completing certification training with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy, Christie launched her business, Connect to Wilderness, and began leading guided forest therapy sessions throughout southern Maine. “If there’s a therapist, it’s the forest,” she said. “I’m simply a guide.”

Each forest bathing session is unique, tailored to the woods, season, and the group participating since “not everyone is ready to talk to the trees,” said Christie. 

Above Showshoeing with Registered Maine Guide Jeanne Christie. Photo courtesy Jeanne Christie.

Showshoeing with Registered Maine Guide Jeanne Christie. Photo courtesy Jeanne Christie.

“The practice is to really experience where you are on a deeper level,” she said. “I’ve heard it described as ‘outward meditation’.” The idea of healing and release simply through quiet reflection in a forest may seem abstract and intangible, but Christie assures it’s a human necessity. “We’ve lost our connection to the wilderness, but it’s still within us,” she said. “Simply taking time to be in nature without agenda or motive—just an existential awareness of the forest—is an ancient instinct we’ve learned to suppress.” 

Her guidance for a self-directed forest bath? “Gently push aside your ‘talking’ mind,” she said. “Experience the world through all of your senses. Close your eyes and observe the world through your other senses. Your mind will start talking again – don’t worry. Just allow these thoughts to move past. Wander at will!” 

“The land is the real teacher.
All we need as students is mindfulness.”

ROBIN WALL KIMMERER

Mitchell Rasor at Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Photo courtesy Mitchell Rasor

Mitchell Rasor at Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Wild Swimming

For a truly immersive experience in nature, plunging into the bracing waters of Maine’s rugged coast is an invigorating approach – if you can work up the nerve. Yarmouth landscape architect and artist Mitchell Rasor first gave it a try seven years ago, while looking for a new focus during a difficult period. Today, it’s a year-round practice he describes as “mentally and physically cathartic.’’ Even while traveling for work, Rasor is always on the lookout for a nearby swim spot. “I try never to miss a day between May and October,” he said.

Cousins Island. Photos courtesy Mitchell Rasor.

Cousins Island. Photos courtesy Mitchell Rasor.

For anyone eager to take the plunge, Rasor suggests beginning in August when the ocean water is warmer (by Maine standards) and timing your swim for fair conditions. “The wind is typically lower and the water is calmer at dawn and dusk,” he said. 

Whether you opt for a lake, river, or ocean, there are inherent risks associated with wild swimming. “You need to be aware of your surroundings, tides, waves, temperature, and currents,” said Rasor. “You’re aligned in the moment. It’s just you and the water.” 

Gaia’s Classroom 

Building lodging. Photo courtesy Way of the Earth.

Building lodging. Photo courtesy Way of the Earth.

In the woods beyond East Blue Hill, a collective of alternative educators have established Way of the Earth, an inclusive school that teaches Earth skills and ancient arts – from hide tanning to herbalism to survival skills. Students “find skills to build an everyday functional and positive relationship with the surrounding world, and other people,” said instructor and outdoor educator Colby Smith. Much of the curriculum is centered around a Whole-Earth approach that recognizes the need for indigenous knowledge and leadership at its forefront.  “We’ve been creating increasingly ‘artificial’ human-constructed environments without considering most other species in this process,” he said. “Indigenous or native people have always lived with the natural world at the forefront of their consciousness.”

Sign up for short courses in traditional arts, or if you’re feeling a real wanderlust, sign up for their immersive five-month summer wilderness program at an on-site primitive village. 

For anyone with a desire to rewild but without months to spare, Smith offers some practical advice: “Returning to health and balance is a process – it takes time. Make small, but sure steps. Plug in to the place you live and learn about the interconnections that exist there. Quietly observe how this stream has slowly shaped the ground and how the mink is influenced by these shapes as it travels upstream. Observe how you too are shaped by the mink’s movements, the sound of the stream, and the shape of the land. Rather than just moving through nature, look around, move slowly, start a relationship with something there. Maybe it could use your help. Maybe it could help you.” 

TAKE A BREAK DURING YOUR WORKDAY

  • Silence or switch off your phone and create distance between yourself and your personal devices for ten minutes.
  • Find a quiet space in nature, whether a park, shorefront, or garden.
  • Practice sympathetic breathing, inhaling, and exhaling slowly while engaging the diaphragm.
  • Close your eyes and focus your other senses; tune in to the sounds and smells around you, feel the wind and sun on your skin.
  • If you have space, practice slow stretches and movements to loosen the body and focus the mind.
  • Before you leave, observe an element of nature with fresh eyes and deeper appreciation.

 

— Saisie Moore is a freelance writer and gardener living on Munjoy Hill in Portland. 


Patrick Dempsey riding in The Dempsey Challenge. Photo courtesy of Derek Bissonette, DB Maine Photography

Keeping Our Spirits Up with Patrick Dempsey

Patrick Dempsey, most known for his role as neurosurgeon Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd in Grey’s Anatomy is a Mainer through and through. Born in Lewiston, he grew up in the nearby towns of Turner and Buckfield before becoming an actor and starring in the 1980s films Can’t Buy Me Love and Loverboy. His ties to Maine continue to this day. After his mother was diagnosed with cancer, he founded the Dempsey Center for Quality Cancer Care with physical locations in Lewiston and South Portland, and now virtually through Dempsey Connects. And since 2009, he has organized the Dempsey Challenge, an annual run, walk, and cycle fundraising race to benefit those impacted by cancer at the Dempsey Center.

As we head into the second year of a pandemic, we at the Maine Health & Wellness Guide are looking to inspire people to find their way back to health. We were lucky to catch up with Patrick Dempsey on what he does to stay positive, healthy, and balanced.

Can you tell us what you are up to now and what your days in the pandemic look like?

PD: Simple days in the beginning.  It was nice to be home and not flying or working— just being together as a family, and then trying to comprehend what was going on with so much unrest and fear.  We truly just lay around the house and then as things progressed, a bit more anxiety grew.  We then tried to keep ourselves busy with positive activities such as walks, cooking as a family, along with a lot less TV!

What outdoor recreational activity do you enjoy most in non-winter months to stay active and find fun?

PD: Cycling, walks, hikes, time at the beach.

When you’re having a down day, what’s something that picks you back up? 

PD: I have found that quieting my mind really helps when I’m feeling a bit off.  I found the simple task of sitting in front of a fireplace does the trick for me.

Do you practice any meditation techniques, and if so, what are they?

PD: I do. It’s important to have time to collect yourself in the morning.  I like to wake up before anyone else in the house, let the dogs out, and then sit quietly.  I’ve been reading a lot of Ryan Holiday’s works and have found his interpretation of stoicism to be incredibly beneficial.

Being from Maine, what particular strength of Maine’s people do you connect with most?

PD: Mainers care deeply for their communities, and when people are in need, they step up and help generously. They are always last to accept help themselves, but the first to help others.  I see this with the incredible support at the Dempsey CenterThe Dempsey Challenge always highlights the strength of community and love that the state shows.

What is your favorite area of Maine to visit for adventure and makes you feel refreshed?

PD: The woods of Maine.  The coast. I love the wildlife and Maine’s natural beauty.

This past year, Activity Maine embarked on a campaign called #keepourspiritsupmaine designed to encourage leaders in Maine to reveal how they found positive ways to handle the pandemic. Check out more of our Industry Snapshots on the craft brew, distilling, and Maine outdoor industries in the blog series located in the sidebar.


Jumping Rope to Run Faster

Jumping rope requires quick rebounds that recruit mainly the foot muscles and joints, a type of plyometric training that would be useful for runners. A recent study in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance set out to investigate this. A group of amateur runners were randomly assigned to an experimental group or a control group. The experimental group modified their regular warm-up routine to include jumping rope for two to four sessions per week with a total time of 10 to 20 minutes per week. After 10 weeks, runners in the experimental group had greater arch stiffness and statistically significant improvement in their three-kilometer run time compared to the control group. So, for runners looking for a way to increase their speed, incorporating jump rope training drills into their warmup may be a great way to do so. Dust off that jump rope and get going!

By Heidi Walls, MD

Reference article: García-Pinillos F, Lago-Fuentes C, Latorre-Román PA, Pantoja-Vallejo A, Ramirez-Campillo R. Jump-Rope Training: Improved 3-km Time-Trial Performance in Endurance Runners via Enhanced Lower-Limb Reactivity and Foot-Arch Stiffness [published online ahead of print, 2020 Mar 12]. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2020;1-7. doi:10.1123/ijspp.2019-0529


Check Yourself! It's Tick Season

Tips on Ticks and Prevention

Like so many people who live for the outdoors, I’ve spent much of my time in the woods and waters of Maine until, at age 26, an unexpected rash brought my life to a screeching halt.

Tick habitat

Photo: Jaclyn Sanipass

As a trained wilderness guide and a Maine native, I was well aware that Lyme disease existed here in the Northeast. Yet, I didn’t know its devastating effects when I developed the familiar bull’s eye rash in 2006. I wished I’d known more before becoming bed-bound for more than two years and succumbing to a desperate search for my health. Luckily after seven years, I fully recovered with the help of a team of doctors, neurological rehabilitation, and support through adaptive sports programs. Now I am back running trails, backpacking, and practicing martial arts in the elements again.

The cool, fresh mornings of spring in Maine open up so many opportunities to go outside and focus on healthy activities. As green begins to return in the forests, it seems to draw people from their homes and call them back to the great outdoors. 

Staying healthy outdoors while maintaining the proper social distance is still on the minds of many fresh-air seekers hitting the trails this summer season. Yet, there is more to think about beyond the current pandemic when heading out on that next adventure.

Whether you are hiking, backpacking, camping, trail running, participating in one of the new virtual trail races, or gardening—there is potential for tick exposure. Children are most susceptible because they tend to play outdoors the most, and people who spend time outdoors are at a higher risk. Pets let outdoors can also pose a risk, as they are likely to carry ticks back into the home.

Avoid Bushwacking; Stay on Trails

Try to stay out of the long grass as many ticks stand on the end of the blades of grass reaching up with their legs, ready to attach to whatever happens to walk by. They will attach to a pant leg, shoe, or sock and then migrate upwards, looking for warmth.

Tick habitat

Photo: Jaclyn Sanipass

Tick Checks are Extremely Important 

I do quick tick checks along the trail, especially if I travel through low brush, leaf litter, or tall grasses. I do another check once I return to my car. Then once back at home, I do a thorough tick check. Use your hand to rub along your skin as it may be easy to mistake a tiny deer tick for a freckle. A tick will be raised slightly so you might be able to feel one more easily than being able to see it. Use a mirror to check your back. Then, throw your clothes in the washer and dryer. Be sure to check thoroughly. Favorite places for ticks are behind the knees, armpits, waistline, groin, and scalp.

What if you find an attached tick?

Remove ticks as soon as you see them. There are tick scoops that you can find at most outdoor stores or use regular tweezers. Grasp it as close to your skin as possible and pull with a gentle tug. Try to avoid breaking the tick. If broken, the head of the tick will be left inside the skin and may cause irritation. If you suspect infection, consult your physician right away.

Take a picture of the embedded tick. Write down the day and time that it was found embedded in case you need to have it examined or keep records for a doctor. Watch the area for any signs of rash and note any developments of other symptoms such as headaches, nausea, malaise, diarrhea, fever, etc.

In short, always be mindful of where you walk this summer. Not all ticks carry infectious diseases and not every bite will lead to disease. But better to be careful, educated, and aware. Consult your physician if you suspect you may have a tick-borne illness.

Hungry deer tickBE TICK AWARE

The Global Lyme Alliance, a research and education organization based in Connecticut, gives suggestions on their website to help people to “Be Tick AWARE,” which is an acronym for the following:

AVOID areas where ticks live. Ticks thrive in woodpiles, leaf litter, long grass, beach grass, bushy areas, stone walls, and perimeters where the lawn meets the woods.

WEAR light-colored clothing to spot ticks more easily, long-sleeved shirts tucked in at the waist, long pants tucked into high socks, closed-toe shoes, and a hat with your hair tucked in, if possible. Do not walk in the grass barefoot or in open sandals, even if it’s cut short.

APPLY EPS-approved tick repellent (such as DEET or picaridin) and insecticide (such as permethrin) to skin, clothing, and shoes as directed.

REMOVE clothing upon entering the home; toss into the dryer at high temperature for 10-15 minutes to kill live ticks. Putting them in the washer, however,
will not.

Tick larvae are less than 1 millimeter long (the size of a poppy seed) while nymphs are 1-2 millimeters long, about the size of a pinhead. Adult ticks can range from about 2 – 6 millimeters long when unfed and can grow up to 10 millimeters long after feeding.

Source: www.domyown.com

It's In Your Dreams by Jaclyn SanipassStory by Jaclyn Sanipass, a survivor in complete recovery of neurological Lyme disease and Babesiosis. After a seven-year battle, she returned to the wilderness and led women’s retreats for more than 10 years. Her newly released book It’s In Your Dreams is a novel about her life as a wilderness guide and her journey of healing from Lyme disease.


Healthy Habits to Help You Ride Out the Pandemic

Mami-restaurantThe COVID-19 pandemic has proved to be paradoxical for our health: it’s engendered unhealthy habits by incentivizing some people to eat and drink more, exercise less, and consume more screen time in a sedentary state. Conversely, it also fomented a new culture of self-improvement, inspiring people to learn how to eat healthier, and pushing them to use their free time to exercise more and get in shape. 

Here’s how you can be part of the latter category if you wish to stay happy and healthy as we continue to ride out the pandemic.

One way to pursue improved mental and physical health is by reducing screen time. Excessive screen time can languish our mental and physical health in a myriad of ways, according to Dr. Jordan Porter, a lecturer with UMaine Orono School of Nursing.

“Prolonged exposure to blue light emitted from computer screens and hand-held devices can suppress natural melatonin production, which upends our circadian rhythm and often results in sleep difficulties,” said Porter. In addition, he said, “Some research has found an association between exposure to blue light at night . . . and chronic conditions like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.”

To consciously seek out ways to buffer your screen time, consider picking up a book. The Maine Book Club/discussion group on Facebook is a great resource to get an idea of what to read, with nearly 2,000 members in the group offering recommendations and forming small, online book clubs.

Another way to combat the adverse health effects of the pandemic is to head outdoors, where again, we can divorce from our screens and delight in all the vitamin D the sun offers, which studies show improves both physical and mental health. 

“It’s time to trade blue light for regular bright light, especially in the mornings,” Porter advised. “Exposure to regular bright light during day hours can help maximize alertness, maintain a regular circadian rhythm, and counteract the winter blues, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).”

There’s a slew of ways to be active outdoors in Maine, whether it’s mountain biking the 50+ official trails throughout the state, paddling along a lake or river, or hiking in the western Maine mountains. Visit NEMBA.org for mountain bike trails and visit mainetrailfinder.com to browse hikes all over Maine.

Since the pandemic hit, online fitness and meditation classes have multiplied. According to a 2021 Bloomberg article, “How COVID-19 Has Permanently Affected the Fitness Industry,” 72 percent of fitness club-owners currently offer on-demand and livestream group workouts. Some workouts are pre-recorded and allow for pausing or rewinding, and others are live-streamed to emulate group exercise.

One Portland-based cycling studio has mastered the balance of online and socially distanced in-person training. Réve Cycling Studio moved their business entirely online in March 2020 and launched an on-demand platform, Réve At-Home. Once the weather got warm, Réve Cycling switched to in-person mode, offering to meet clients at Thompson’s Point and cycle next to the ocean. 

Cycling class at Reve Cycling Studio

Cycling class at Reve Cycling Studio

“Beyond all of the amazing mental and physical health benefits that come with working out, we go beyond that and really tap into the community through human connection,” said Marketing Manager Meghan Courchesne. 

Another critical struggle for people who are pandemic-weary, is staying apart from friends and family, and the toll that has taken on their mental and emotional health. It’s still important to socialize—safely. With the warmer weather here, spend time with family or friends by enjoying the outdoors together at a state park such as Wolfe’s Neck Woods in Freeport, or visiting a restaurant or brewery with outdoor seating. With more people being vaccinated each day, we’ll soon be able to spend more time with each other, safely.

At the end of the 1994 prison film The Shawshank Redemption,  the character, Red reads a letter from his escaped fellow inmate Andy Dufresne: “Remember Red: Hope is a good thing— maybe the best of the things—and no good thing ever dies.” 

Even though it feels like we’ve been crawling through a 500-yard tunnel of horror this last year like Andy did, just remember: hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and it’s on the other side of this tunnel.

— Story and photos by Garrick Hoffman, a freelance photographer, writer, and graphic designer based in Auburn. Visit his website at GarrickHoffman.com. Follow him on Instagram at @garrickhoffmanphotography and @garrickhoffmanportraits and on Facebook at @Garrick Hoffman Photography.


Snow sports at the University of Maine at Farmington

Get Your Outdoors On at UMF

As the 2020/2021 season has unfolded in a time of uncertainty, the UMaine Farmington snow sports teams have been prepared. The snow sports program consists of three different disciplines: Alpine, Freeride, and Nordic. All programs begin early, with dryland training for the Alpine Team; aerial sessions for the Freeride Team, and for the Nordic Team, miles of practice to get into shape for the winter sport they love.

The Alpine Team

Photo: Braden Brothers

UMaine Farmington snow sports participate in the Reynolds Division as a part of the United States Collegiate Ski & Snowboard Association and normally compete all around Maine and in New England against many other Division II & III schools. Although UMF’s teams on average are smaller than most, they are a force to be reckoned with. What they lack in team numbers, they make up for in dedication and on-hill talent.

At the beginning of the season, I spoke with Shawn Russell, the university’s freeride/snowboard coach. He explained why athletes choose to pursue their collegiate career at UMaine Farmington. “In my opinion, we have the best venue in the northeast, with Sugarloaf and Sunday River resorts close by, Saddleback reopening, and Titcomb Mountain minutes from campus,” he said. “The access is unmatched.” The snow sports coaches are geared up to provide for athletes amidst this season of uncertainty. “I can promise that we will make it the best season that we possibly can,” said Russell. 

The geographic location of UMaine Farmington immerses its students in the heart of Maine’s western mountains. Nestled in the small town of Farmington, the snow sports teams are in reach of world-class destinations. For any snow sports athlete, it is easy to fall in love with this region of Maine while earning an affordable education. 

UMaine Farmington has seen its fair share of success throughout history: podium finishes, trips to national events, and graduates earning positions in the snow sports world post-graduation. The university had established a plethora of knowledgeable and inspiring coaches who are focused and determined to provide all athletes with the opportunity to compete on a local, regional, and national level. 

Sam Scheff, a UMaine Farmington senior and the captain of the Freeride/Snowboard Team, has already had the opportunity to compete in regional and national competitions through the Team. In his sophomore year, he earned the chance to join a select few in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where he competed in his first national competitions. “Being on the Freeride Team is about representing the university,” said Scheff. “The best part is forming relationships with like-minded people, and the on-hill and academic support from the great coaches here at UMaine Farmington.” 

The UMaine Farmington Alpine Team is headed by coach Andrew Willihan. In the past several years with the UMaine Farmington program, Willihan has rebuilt the Team to regional and national standards. Those who want to compete at a collegiate level ought to consider UMaine Farmington, according to Willihan. “The right choice is based on being able to gain a high-quality education for unbeatable value, while training and racing at the best resorts in the northeast,” he said. “For any skier who wants to be treated with the respect that matches their dedication to the sport, you cannot find an athletic department and team that can do what we do.”

— Story by Avery Boucher, Activity Maine’s Fall/Winter Outdoor Media Content internship student from the University of Maine Farmington


Get outdoors and stay active this winter

XC Skiing: A Fun Way to Get Active

Check out this Activities Guide of Maine video production by our UMaine Farmington intern, Avery Boucher

Check out this Activities Guide of Maine production by our UMaine Farmington intern, Avery Boucher

Cross-country skiing is an activity that all abilities can take part in as it is as intensive as you make it. Whether you are looking to go out for a casual stroll or pack on the miles, XC skiing is a great way to get some outdoor exercise safely. “If you have never XC skied before, don’t worry, neither had I,” said Boucher. “With a group of friends, we were able to have some good laughs and spills, but by the end of the day, we all had it down and can’t wait for our next time out.”

As the weather has been unseasonably warm this winter, take advantage and go to your local rental shop and pick up a pair of XC skis or dust off that old pair of skis that have been sitting in the basement for way too long. With a quick online search, you can locate a rental shop and trails near you and be out on the trails in no time.

With Maine’s abundant, beautiful scenery it is no labored task to get outdoors and stay active.

We’ll see you out there!

 


Explore Moosehead Lake

Explore Moosehead

MAJESTIC MOOSEHEAD LAKE, with its 400 miles of undeveloped shoreline, surrounding mountain peaks and expansive views, provides an inspiring backdrop to escape the everyday fast pace of life. The winter months and the abundant snowfall open up a spectacular opportunity to explore back-country trails and frozen bodies of water. Wildlife abounds on trails and it is common to see moose, deer, wild turkeys and many woodland animals up close and personal. 

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument

Photo: Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument

If cross-country skiing or snowshoeing is your winter sport choice, you can enjoy your passion on nearly 25 miles of packed and groomed trails in the pristine Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and winter hiking are permitted on ungroomed trails, but it is recommended that only experienced individuals use the ungroomed trails as the terrain is often steep and uneven.

Snowmobiling is allowed on approximately 22 miles of trails within the National Monument. Local snowmobile clubs are responsible for the management of snowmobiling activities. For current local trail conditions check out The Maine Snowmobile Association’s website www.mesnow.com.

Ice fishing and winter camping opportunities are also available in the Katahdin Woods and Water National Monument. Reservations are required for walk-in primitive tent sites, and lean-tos, as well as for bunk space in primitive community huts. Winter campers must be prepared for extreme weather conditions, follow a carry in/carry out trash policy, and only use downed wood gathered in the area by the campsite for a campfire. To register contact Susan Adams, EPI Recreation Manager:  207-852-1291, lunksoos@gmail.com

Maine Dogsledding Adventures

Photo: Maine Dogsledding Adventures

Consider treating yourself to an authentic winter adventure of dogsledding. Contact Don and Angel Hibbs, expert dog mushers, who operate Maine Dogsledding Adventure at (207) 731-8885 or by email: info@mainedogssledding.com. Special ½-day to 2-day tours provide a unique experience for families and winter adventurers. Mush 10-12 miles in the wilderness near Baxter State Park. Everyone gets a turn on the runners driving the sleds!

You have great choices in accommodations for your winter getaway in the Katahdin Region. In Medway, you will find the Gateway Inn conveniently located just off the Interstate. Your canine companions are always welcome. Enjoy a continental breakfast before you head off for a day on the trail. River’s Edge Motel lets you sled from your door to an on-site trail, After a day on the trail. Enjoy a sensational pizza or some other wonderful appetizing dish prepared on the premises to please any palate. In Millinocket you will find the iconic Katahdin Inn & Suites. Here you will enjoy a large heated pool, hot tub, exercise, game and play room area, plus a business center, if you need to check back on work while away. You will also enjoy a continental breakfast, and yes, they are pet friendly.

For more information contact: The Katahdin Region Chamber of Commerce: 207-723-4443.  


Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School

GET OUT AND CLIMB THIS WINTER!

Get out and Climb This Winter!

From top to bottom, photos by: Bill Wood, Seth Fischer, Andrew Krause, Chris Bartram.

Mountain guide Jon Tierney believes that anyone who likes being outside in winter and has a reasonable degree of fitness can be successful climbing ice.

“The learning curve for ice climbing is easier than rock climbing because you can put your crampons and ice axes almost anywhere” Tierney says. Jon has been guiding and teaching ice climbing since the eighties. He has even taken clients to western China to tackle first ascents of difficult ice climbs and mountain peaks. Jon is one of 80 fully certified international mountain guides working in the US (IFMGA) and the only one residing in Maine.

If you are interested in learning to ice climb, instruction is essential. Hiring a professional guide is the surest and fastest way of learning to ice climb safely. Jon’s school, Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School offers daily instruction in Acadia National Park, Camden Hills, and the Sugarloaf and Sunday River regions as well as over the border in the White Mountains. The school is fully accredited by the AMGA to provide rock, ice, mountaineering or backcountry skiing instruction or guiding.

Start swinging those ice tools today!

Ice Climbing Courses Winter 2021


KATAHDIN 2-DAY WINTER ASCENTS
$300
– February 13–14
– March 20–21
– or by Private Arrangement

MT WASHINGTON ASCENT
$160
Mt. Washington, New Hampshire
Call for availability (207) 866-7562

Half-Full Day of Ice Climbing in Acadia National Park, Camden Hills, or Bangor Ice Park
Call for availability (207) 866-7562

You can get that New England feeling of ice climbing in Acadia and Camden without the drive to Mt. Washington Valley. 

(207) 866-7562 | ACADIAMOUNTAINGUIDES.COM

 

 


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