This is a guest post written by Enock Glidden, MTF Accessibility Ambassador, Public Speaker, Adaptive Athlete and Adventurer. To learn more about Enock, please visit his website.
For some reason I always choose adventures that take hours of driving instead of looking in my own backyard. I think it might be because it seems like it is more epic or more adventurous to add in travel.
This weekend I decided to try a trail much closer to home. I chose to check out Cornwall Nature Preserve in Paris Hill, Maine. Based on the description at Maine Trail Finder, “There are no steep trails in the preserve, making it an excellent spot to explore the woods with the whole family. However, be careful of roots and rocks which pose a moderate tripping hazard through some sections.” I thought it wouldn't be too hard. I have dealt with rocks and roots on plenty of excursions. No steep hills sounds great to me.
I have to say that description is definitely not for people with disabilities [Ed. Note: We have since adjusted the description to better reflect current conditions]. Despite being close to home, this was an epic adventure to say the least.
First we missed the sign and drove right past the preserve. It didn't take too long to realize we missed it. We turned around and found it pretty easily. The parking lot looked like it was under some renovation but it was quite flat and open. It was very easy to get around.
We entered the preserve on the White Trail. The first part of the trail was a bit deceiving as it was quite smooth and wide. It had very few obstacles.
I should admit something at this point. I went to traverse a tiny divot that had rocks in it thinking it was no big deal. I totally misjudged and flipped my wheelchair over on its side. I was unhurt but it's just a good lesson that even those of us that have experience can still learn.
OK back to the adventure. After maybe a tenth of a mile or so the trail gets much more difficult. There are actually a lot of steep grades with rocks and roots everywhere. There were a number of times that I needed help getting up a steep grade. I had to stop and assess my way forward quite a lot just to make sure I didn’t dump myself out of my chair again.
Some of the rocky, rooty and steep sections on the White Trail.
About a half mile in we met a couple who lives in the area and hikes at Cornwall Nature Preserve often with their dogs. They told us that not too far ahead, the trail got really steep and crossed a dry brook with lots of rocks in it. They also suggested if we couldn't get across that part to try the Blue Trail to make a loop instead. We thanked them for the advice and continued on.
We came to that aforementioned brook and the lady was very right. There was no way I was getting across without some major help or a lot of effort. It was very steep on both sides with mud in between. It didn't take too much contemplation to decide to turn around and look for that blue trail. We started calling the lady “The good judgment lady” after that.
We eventually found the Blue Trail marker and it really didn’t look like it was going to be the best trail. Nevertheless I made the bad choice to try it anyway. Wow, the "good judgment lady” lost her good judgment card fast. This was the hardest trail I think have ever tried! It was only really wide enough to walk in most parts. It was very muddy. There were really steep sections. Basically, I should have just followed the White Trail all the way back to the car.
Some of the many difficult sections on the blue trail.
After struggling for a long time we came to the Yellow Trail. It looked steep but it also looked like it would get us back to the White Trail. We decided to go for it and were pleasantly surprised. It was just a quick minor struggle back to the White Trail and we were home free.
I have to say even though I make it sound horrible, I actually enjoyed it. I love a good strugglefest. I definitely would rate this one Doably DIfficult and would not recommend it for really anyone that isn’t in for a major workout and some risky moves if you are a person with a disability. If that sounds like you then maybe give it a go and let us know what you thought in the comments.
Only attempt if you're looking for a major workout and some risky moves.
If you have a different type of mobility issue or a totally different disability and you try this one please comment on this post and let us know what your feedback would be. The more knowledge we get the more people we can get out using the trails of Maine!
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