Enock Glidden, athlete and trail reviewer, poses July 7 in Bethel. Glidden plans to climb Mt. Rainier in Washington state. Rose Lincoln/Bethel Citizen

BETHEL — Enock Glidden hiked El Capitan in California in 2016. Now he hopes to be the first person with a disability to make it to the top of Mt. Rainier in Washington state.

El Capitan is 8,500 feet in elevation. The distance to climb is 2,000 to 3,500 feet. At Rainier you start at 9,500 feet in the parking lot and can climb to 14,100 feet. It is less vertical than El Capitan, but offers more terrain to journey.

Glidden said four people with a disability have attempted to summit Rainier, but none have made it to the top.

He will pull himself up on ropes, and as a Maine adaptive athlete since age 13, will ski down.

He saw Rainier in a trip he made alone around the country, visiting sites such as the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, Yosemite National Park in California, and Glacier National Park in Montana. He gave inspirational talks at several stops to help pay for the trip.

Glidden’s childhood friend, Nick Hall, died on Rainier 11 years ago. He was a Rainier rescue ranger, “doing a rescue, (he) reached for the helicopter, missed and fell. It took a week to get him off the mountain because of weather. That was what inspired me to get into rock climbing, to see all these places that he got to see through adventuring and climbing … I decided I wanted to see all the (same) places.”


Glidden grew up in Patten, four hours north of Bethel and 40 miles south of Canada. He was born with spina bifida which left him paralyzed from the waist down. On the El Capitan video on his website he says, “I spent three months in the hospital waiting to die. Then I didn’t.”

One challenge for Glidden, who now lives in Albany with his girlfriend, is raising money for the trip. “As an adaptive athlete you have to have more support,” he said. The $30,000 he needs includes the guide service (four people) which costs about $15,000. Other expenses are for food, flights, hotel and van rental.

Rating trails

Glidden works as a reviewer rating trails for the Maine Trail Finder website. “Enock’s Adventures” initially was for people with disabilities similar to Glidden’s, but he is now expanding the scope to include others that are cognitively or visually impaired.

Before he heads out for a hike, Glidden looks carefully at the trail description. Sometimes the online description is not accurate.

He drove to Eliot recently where the trail description was, “flat and easy.” When he arrived, there were stairs.

He said he always plans backup hikes. In this case, though, it was a wasted trip because the two backups were poorly identified as well. On Boardwalk Trail, the bog bridge from the boardwalk was only about a foot wide so he had to turn around. At Vaughan Woods State Park in South Berwick, all the trails started with a very steep hill. “I did do one, but it took me a long time to get out,” he said.


“That’s nature, nature is not accessible all the time,” he said, unruffled.

For his own reviews he looks at everything, starting with the parking lot: Is the grade rough or smooth? Is there a portable toilet or other accessible bathroom? Is there a gate that blocks the trail entrance?

National park mix is the crushed stone that he finds to be the absolute best for pathways. He checks along those pathways: Are there rocks or roots? Are the inclines too steep for wheelchairs? Is the width at least 3 feet? Are there rest stops? He notes that handcycles are 36 inches wide.

Around the Bethel area, he likes Valentine Farm and Swift River Trail in Rumford, a paved path about a half-mile long beside the river.

However, he said, the best and most accessible trails in Maine are along the coast.

Glidden is working with the Woodstock Conservation Commission on new trails at Buck’s Ledge. He said the road they are building to the top is unique. The trail that goes around the parking area and through the woods will come back to the road.


“It’s beautiful,” he said. “It is going to be the nicest spot around.”

The rush

Glidden was a wheelchair racer in high school until his racing chair was “crushed by the wood pile,” but not before he competed in the Maine Marathon three times. He remembers that Joan Benoit, running a half-marathon, passed him, but with encouraging words.

He said there have been times when he so strongly felt the pull to finish, that he has gotten out of his wheelchair and crawled up the hill while pulling it behind him.

The sense of accomplishment and “the rush” from hiking, but also from skydiving, hang gliding and flying airplanes, is what drives him. “I like the adrenaline. Being above the ground. It’s you and the rock. There is nobody helping you. It is accomplishing something you (alone) did.”

For more information on Glidden and his adventures, visit www.gobeyondthefence.com.

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