My thoughts on the Act Out: Women’s Adventure Expo, plus hiking with dogs handout

It was wonderful to meet and chat with so many people at the Act Out: Women’s Adventure Expo on Saturday. Originally, I had planned to walk around the event and attend a few of the many workshops on fly casting, outdoor cooking, rock climbing and more, but time flew by and I ended up spending most of my time at my booth, where I signed and sold my two hiking guidebooks, “Family Friendly Hikes in Maine” and “Maine Hikes Off the Beaten Path.”

Photo by Sarah Sullivan

I wish I could have been in three places at once that day. I’m especially bummed I missed the self defense workshop, and the search and rescue dog demonstration. But chatting with fellow hikers about Maine trails was my top priority, and that’s what I did, nonstop, all day. It was awesome.

While I couldn’t roam around the event as much as I’d planned, it seems that photographer Sarah Sullivan did, capturing images of the many presentations, workshops and vendor booths. I’ve really enjoyed looking through the 100-plus photos she took. This blog includes just a few.

Photo by Sarah Sullivan

Since Saturday, I’ve been asked by many people “How’d the event go?” And from my perspective, it went great. However, I’m sure there were aspects of the first-time event that could have been improved. I hope that those who attended and participated as vendors and workshop leaders will give our BDN events team plenty of feedback. In fact, here’s a feedback form.

Photo by Sarah Sullivan

At my booth, I was constantly engaged in a conversation — usually about hiking. I met longtime readers of my column, as well as people who’d never read my column before but promised to start. I got a hug from a stranger, took selfies with three readers, and stamped a little boy’s hand with Oreo’s paw print stamp (which I use to sign books).

My keynote speech, while a bit nerve-wracking to deliver, seemed to go over well with the audience. I shared a personal story about how hiking has improved my health. I had never included that story in a speech before. It was a challenge to talk about in such a public setting, but I’m glad I decided to add it into the speech. And afterward, a few people came up to me to share their own stories. That meant a lot to me.

Photo by Sarah Sullivan

To those who participated as workshop leaders and vendors, thank you. And to those who simply attended the event, thank you, too! I know there are many celebrations, festivals, concerts and shows happening throughout Maine in the fall, especially during Columbus Day weekend. There’s a lot to choose from. And as I’ve learned, you can’t be everywhere at once. So I’m well aware that there are people who missed the Act Out event but wished they could have been there. I hope these photos give you an idea of how it went, and below I’ve included the handout I provided at my workshop on hiking with dogs.

Photo by Sarah Sullivan

To make the handout more useful, I’ve added some links to past blogs on the topic. So pick up a puppy and go enjoy the fall foliage while there’s still time!

Hiking with dogs in Maine

Dog hiking gear to consider

  • Waste bags (multiple!)
  • A good leash
  • A collar with ID tags
  • A collapsable or lightweight bowl (Try Guyot Designs Squishy Dog Bowl)
  • Your dog’s own water (mark the bottle)
  • Athletic tape for foot pad scrapes/cuts
  • Coats, depending on the dog breed and weather
  • Musher’s Secret or another protective foot wax (keeps in heat, protects against rough surfaces)
  • Dog backpack, depending on the dog
  • Treats to fuel your pup!
  • All-natural insect repellent (a good one I use is made by Maine company Skeeter Skidaddler)

Great dog-friendly hikes near Bangor

Great overnight dog-friendly adventures in Maine

  • Deboullie Public Lands in northern Maine (near the Allagash)
  • Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument (near Baxter)
  • Nahmakanta Public Reserved Land (near Baxter)
  • Forest Legacy Trails in Rangeley area
  • Camden Hills State Park and other state parks with campsites (leashed always)

Things about hiking with dogs you may not have considered…

  • Leash laws can be very specific. In Acadia, leashes must be no longer than 6 feet. In state parks, they must be no longer than 4 feet. In some other lands, they can be up to 10 feet long.
  • Stagnant water can make dogs sick. Ask your vet about a vaccine for this.
  • Lyme disease from deer ticks can kill dogs. Work with your vet to protect your dog from ticks and Lyme. There’s now a vaccine available, and topical treatments. Be cautious about topical treatments found in stores.
  • When hiking, check where the nearest vet clinic is and have the number on hand, just in case of an emergency.
  • Porcupines are one of the most common problems for hiking dogs. Most dogs will go after a porcupine and get quilled in the face and chest, and most dogs need to get the quills out at the vets.
  • Often when you’re hiking (on the weekend), veterinary clinics aren’t open. So if an emergency happens, like a porcupine run-in, you’ll need to go to the nearest emergency vet. The northernmost emergency vet in Maine is in Brewer. All the rest are in southern Maine. These vet clinics are more expensive than a typical vet but are open 24/7. A typical bill for porcupine quill removal at an emergency vet is $300-500. This may be reason enough for you to keep your dog on leash.
  • Be careful while hiking near fields. Dogs can trample on and kill birds that nest in fields. During the spring and early summer, eggs and baby birds are in these nests. For this reason, many land trusts and other organizations close their hiking trails to dogs in the spring or outright.
  • Some land trusts and other organizations in Maine have considered closing trails to dogs because people don’t pick up their dog waste and they have experienced problems with dogs that are out of control and harming or scaring others. I won’t name names, but I have spoken with the trail stewards of these properties. It’s a big problem. So follow the rules so these places can stay open!

Contact information & social media

Twitter: @1minhikegirl
Instagram: @asarnacki

Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at