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.
Hey fellow hikers! I stayed a bit closer to home and checked out Holt Pond Preserve in Bridgton. I may have come up with a new rating for this one because it was beyond extreme.
As always. I visited Maine Trail Finder to research trails near Bridgton since I was headed in that direction. I found Holt Pond Preserve and from the rating and description, it seemed manageable on my own.
“Starting at the parking area off Grist Mill Road, the path takes you through a mixed forest of birch, beech, hemlock, and pine. You cross over a stone wall into a red maple swamp. In the spring, listen for the sounds of returning neo-tropical migrant birds and in the winter, look for the flitting silhouettes of chickadees shivering for warmth. Leaving the red maple swamp you find yourself on one of the several hummocks in the preserve, a nutrient rich glacial deposit where hemlocks have taken root. Venturing out to the Muddy River, a ripple in the water and a loud splash indicates the presence of a territorial beaver.”
You will notice the description says "cross over a rock wall". I saw that but didn't think it literally meant go over the wall. We will get to that moment in a bit.
I started at the parking lot on Grist Mill Road because it looked like the shortest path to the pond. It is a really well made lot with a firm surface. There is plenty of space.
I started out to the left on the Adam Perron Trail because the hill entering the trail seemed less steep than starting to the right on the Holt Pond Trail. I didn’t make it very far before discovering two very deep mud pits.
I contemplated trying to skirt the edge on either side of the mud but the cross slope looked so steep that I was probably going to end up in the mud. I really thought for a minute that I might either be able to go around behind a big tree or possibly in between the tree and the mud. I was by myself so neither option looked like a good idea.
I turned around and made my way back up the hill to the parking lot. I contemplated my options to get down to the Holt Pond Trail and noticed if I came in from the right it wasn't as steep.
Once I made it down to where the trail started to level out more I was pleasantly surprised with how much better it was. The trail is an old road for about a quarter of a mile. It is very wide with very few roots or other obstacles. Other than the steep hill to access it is quite easy to do. There is even a resting bench at the end of this section. This is where I would turn around if you aren’t into extreme challenges.
Remember that rock wall I mentioned earlier? It isn't too far past the bench. In my head, I thought they must have made a path through it. They literally mean go up and over it.
I could see a boardwalk on the other side of the wall and it looked just wide enough for my chair. I sat and thought about possible solutions to this major obstacle. I decided if I was going to give it my best shot to get to the pond, I had to get out of my chair and crawl over the rocks while dragging my chair behind me.
My solution worked with some serious effort and I made it to the boardwalk. I had to then come up with a whole new solution because the boardwalk had a very high step to get on it.
This is where I wish I had someone with me or a tripod to mount a camera. Of course, if Sandy was with me she probably would have talked me out of this - haha. I had a really hard time getting back into my chair. It kept sliding to the side out from under me. It finally occurred to me that if I put my backpack on the back the weight would help hold it in place and that worked great.
Off I went carefully along the boardwalk. It really was just barely wide enough for my chair and the gaps between the boards were wide. I had to essentially do hundreds of quick wheelies over each one. It was a fun challenge for sure.
After crossing the boardwalk I made it to the woods again. The trail forks and goes to the muddy river or continues on another boardwalk to Holt Pond. I chose to continue on. The second boardwalk was much easier as I had the routine down by then. This is when the universe said Enock stop being insane and turn around! There was a board missing from the boardwalk and a log across it after that.
Now I had to figure out how to turn around and head back. I chose to hop out of my chair and carefully scoot by on the edge of the boardwalk and then turn the chair around. Thankfully it worked out really well and I didn't end up in the marsh.
I made my way back to the parking lot just in time to pick up my grocery order. When I got back to the hill just before the parking lot I took this picture of my options for topping out the hill. Would you go straight up or make a switchback to the right?
Someone told me yesterday I should have an Enock rating for some of the things I do. I think I am going to rate this one E for Enock and Extreme. I don’t think too many chair users are going to try this but if you like an extreme challenge it is there to try.
Beyond strenuous, possibly dangerous.
This year I am hoping to get some group or one on one hikes together. I would love to interview other people with disabilities about their experiences in the outdoors. The more perspectives we can get the better the information will be and the more progress we can make. Please contact us if you are interested in collaborating or joining me on a hike!
If you have a different type of mobility issue or a different disability and you visit this trail or others, please comment on this post and give us your feedback. If you would like to visit a trail with Enock feel free to reach out. He would love to have people join him in the outdoor spaces of Maine. The more knowledge we gather and share, the more people we can get outside using the trails of Maine!
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