Some may think there is more to Maine than lobsters. You are right if you think so too! Cool sprays and salty air misting your face from ocean waves crashing against the cliffs as you hike from forest to high elevation summits to view beautiful coastal bays is what makes this adventure thrilling. However, even as an advanced hiker I was nervous about falls for myself and my nimble children given the steep climbs, sharp drop offs, and varied lighting coming in and out of trees.
Maine has some of the most phenomenal hiking where steep cliff views overlook the Atlantic Ocean, and with trail names like Knife Edge and Tumbledown Mountain you need to come prepared to hike safely to enjoy all this salty adventure has to offer!
Your Planning Guide for Trail Safety
- Preparticipation Visual Examination- A study on vision found that when compared to people with normal vision, individuals with visual impairment, defined as a best-corrected binocular presenting visual acuity of 20/30 or worse, had coinciding impairment in activity performance, walking speeds, and driving. 1 You may think you have good vision, but your brain can hide vision deficits that affect your depth perception and visual field (you could be blind to a certain area of your field of vision.) This can increase your risk of injury on a trail from bumping into trees or trunks in forested areas, being struck by approaching objects or branches, and falls due to the wide terrain of gravel, slick surfaces, or even missing the iron rungs that create uneven footing.
An eye examination with Dr. Ericksen before heading to new hiking trails, cliffs, and overlooks gives you an assessment on visual parameters such as visual acuity, visual fields, depth perception, or contrast sensitivity that may disrupt your perception of the visual world.
- Check trail elevation and topography- Frequent climbs at high elevation exposes you to increased UV exposure and dry air. Sunglasses or a wide brim hat can protect your eyes from damage from this UV exposure. Carry preservative free artificial tears to flush dust or rehydrate eyes for clearer vision on the trail. Closed toed and good traction shoes are always recommended for unlevel hiking surfaces.
- Pack water and snacks-Increased elevation and longer hikes(many can be 7 miles round trip) can cause fatigue and dehydration which can affect your entire body including your visual system. Consume extra calories, carbohydrates, proteins, and fluids (64 oz water or more) depending on trail length and elevation.
BEFORE THE HIKE: pasta, rice, beef, spinach, lentils, eggs, yogurt
DURING THE HIKE: dried fruit, bananas, oranges, apples, nuts and seeds, granola/protein bars, beef jerky, peanut butter cups
- Bring extra clothing layers and frames and lenses for unpredictable changes in weather. Storms can move in quickly changing your visibility and as you hike higher in elevation wind and temperature can change so you will need to add or remove clothing. Lenses that change color quickly with overhead storm clouds, shade from trees, or increased sun help contrast for detecting terrain changes and balance while allowing you to leave the frame on your face for the entire trek. Frames that have air vents help wick away sweat or condensation that may build up on lenses with temperature changes.
- Bring a map, compass, and head lamp– Extra lighting may be needed to navigate the ground in front of you or read a map. Cadillac Mountain faces east and viewing the sunrise from Cadillac North Ridge Trail or Cadillac South Ridge Trail requires hiking in the dark with possibly wetter footing so a head lamp is a must to experience one of the best sunrises in North America.
- Tick checks- One of my most memorable hikes, my husband and I walked right into a tick colony and were covered in over 30 ticks each before we knew it! Ticks love warm, moist, hard to see areas like behind ears, hair, belly button, behind knees, waistline, and even your eye. If you have a foreign body sensation have it evaluated immediately as ticks have been known to attach to the conjunctiva. In addition, if you have a rash, fever, headache, ocular fatigue, diplopia or fatigue following hiking visit your primary physician to be evaluated for lyme’s disease.
So slip on your best sunwear and lace up your best hiking boots to #seelife across the legendary rocky coast of Maine where the picturesque lighthouses and sunrises are well worth the salty ocean trek.
1. Zebardast N, Swenor BK, van Landingham SW, Massof RW, Munoz B, West SK, Ramulu PY. Comparing the impact of refractive and nonrefractive vision loss on functioning and disability. Ophthalmology. 2015;122(6):1102–1110.
2.Haymes SA, Johnston AW, Heyes AD. Relationship between vision impairment and ability to perform activities of daily living. Ophthalmic and Physiologic Optics. 2002;22(2):79–91.
3. Talbot LA, Musiol RJ, Witham EK, Metter EJ . Falls in young, middle-aged and older community dwelling adults: perceived cause, environmental factors and injury. BMC Public Health 2005; 5: 86.