ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine — Three people sustained head injuries in two separate incidents Monday morning in the park, adding to a busy summer of hiking related injuries in Acadia this year, according to park officials.
A 65-year-old man from Texas was at Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse around 10 a.m. when he walked down a set of steps to the shore to be able to get a view of the lighthouse, according to Ranger Richard Rechholtz. He fell while walking down the steps, hitting his head and injuring his knee.
Rangers responded to the lighthouse to help the man, who sustained a cut over his eye and had trouble putting weight on his knee, Rechholtz said.
It is the park’s policy not to release the name of anyone who is hurt while visiting Acadia if that person’s injuries are made public. If those hurt are identified, then under federal regulations protecting patient privacy, the injuries are not made public.
Rangers were getting ready to carry the man in a litter back up the steps to a parking lot when another call came in, around 11:40 a.m., that two people had fallen on Acadia Mountain, on the west side of Somes Sound.
Some of the rescue personnel then left Bass Harbor to go to Acadia Mountain, where a 77-year-old woman from Maryland had fallen and hit her head, knocking her unconscious.
The Texas man, with assistance from some of the rescue personnel who stayed behind, was able to make his way back up the steps to where he and his wife had parked, according to Rechholtz. The man refused to be transported by ambulance to a hospital for treatment.
“He hobbled his way up the stairs,” the ranger said. “Whether he went to a hospital, we don’t know.”
At Acadia Mountain, a family group of three or four people were hiking east along the trail, down a steep incline, when the Maryland woman lost her balance, Rechholtz said. Her son-in-law tried to catch her before she hit the ground and he also fell. The son-in-law, who Rechholtz estimated was in his early 60s, and the woman both hit their heads when they fell. The woman lost consciousness but the man did not, he said.
Rechholtz said the woman was not wearing shoes well-suited for hiking along steep, rocky trails. He emphasized that hikers should wear solid shoes with good ankle support and a thick tread.
“I think that was a contributing factor,” he said of why the woman slipped and fell.
The incident happened close to the trailhead on Route 102, Rechholtz said, so it was a relative quick carry-out for rescue personnel who transported the woman to the road in a litter. The son-in-law, who sustained a cut a few inches long in the fall, was able to walk back to the road on his own power.
Both were transported by Mount Desert Ambulance to Mount Desert Island Hospital in Bar Harbor, according to Rechholtz. He said he did not know what their conditions at the hospital were. MDI Search & Rescue and Bar Harbor Fire Department also assisted at Acadia Mountain, he said.
Rechholtz did not have figures at the ready, but this year has been one of the busiest for injuries and rescues that he can recall.
In the past month alone, there have been at least three rescues in the park involving people who fell 50 feet or more. Two of those falls were on Precipice Trail, a very steep trail that goes up the east face of Champlain Mountain, including one that killed a New Hampshire woman who was enrolled at the University of Maine.
Rechholtz said Acadia Mountain, which has relatively steep trails and attracts a fair share of hikers, is where many hiking injuries occur.
“Acadia Mountain has always been a location where we have two to three rescues a year,” Rechholtz said. “It’s a popular trail.”
Follow BDN reporter Bill Trotter on Twitter at @billtrotter.