Melissa Carroll poses with Moose, her miniature poodle mix, at Eliot Mountain Trail sign on Sept. 11. The two are conducting a campaign called Mountains with Moose in which they are raising awareness about hiking safely and money for MDI Search and Rescue. They are taking photos at each peak along the way. ISLANDER PHOTO BY SARAH HINCKLEY

Climbing mountains with Moose



Moose is a 5-pound poodle mix who is taking on all 26 peaks of Acadia National Park in 26 days with his owner, Melissa Carroll, a veterinarian in Blue Hill who lives in Bar Harbor.
ISLANDER PHOTO BY SARAH HINCKLEY

MOUNT DESERT — When Moose, a 5-pound white poodle mix, is out hiking with his owner, it is nearly impossible for people to walk by without offering a comment. 

Over the next few weeks, Moose’s owner Melissa Carroll is counting on people to stop to say something so that she can tell them about Mountains with Moose, a fundraiser she is doing to benefit MDI Search and Rescue. Their goal is to hike all 26 peaks of Acadia National Park from Sept. 9 to Oct. 4, raising money along the way.  

“People aren’t really that impressed with me hiking 26 peaks,” said Carroll, who is a veterinarian at Maine Coast Veterinary Hospital in Blue Hill and a resident of Bar Harbor. “It’s almost literally impossible to pass by Moose without asking… he gives me a segue.” 

In the description on their GoFundMe page, Carroll wrote, “Moose and I are passionate about hiking and passionate about hiking safety for pets and their people in Acadia. We know all too well how quickly a beautiful hike can be ruined by getting lost or injured. MDI and Acadia are so fortunate to have MDI Search and Rescue, a skilled and dedicated group of volunteers that are ready to assist Park Rangers when explorers find themselves in a challenging or dangerous position. 

“2021 has been a record-breaking year for both Acadia and MDI Search and Rescue. As of August 25, MDISAR has received 41 requests for assistance, outpacing the previous record of 40 rescues in all of 2020. There was a stretch in early August when there were 8 rescues in 9 days.” 

Early Saturday morning, Moose, Carroll and her son, Ethan, took on the Eliot Mountain Trail, beginning in Northeast Harbor. After a soggy week of weather, there were plenty of water, mud and puddles lining the trail. Moose traversed the trail effortlessly behind Carroll. Large puddles were the only landscape that warranted a momentary lift.  

“We love hiking,” she said. Moose came to her family by way of the SPCA. “He’s my constant hiking companion because my children don’t always want to come.” 

When her family got Moose at 1 1/2 years old, he came with the name Little One. On the leash used to walk their new puppy was the famously large Maine animal. Inspired, Carroll and her children thought it would be funny to tag the pint-sized pup with the name but keep the Little for Little Moose. Eventually, the little was dropped and now Moose is the only name he needs.  

“It’s one of those ironic names – little dog, big personality,” Carroll said. “One of the most common questions I get is, ‘How far can he walk?’ I say, ‘As far as he wants.’ No one can pass Moose without commenting on him.” 

As if to prove her point, the only couple encountered on the Eliot Mountain Trail did just that. 

“That’s a lot of walking for those little legs,” said the woman as she slowed down to greet Moose.  

Ethan and Melissa Carroll study a map while their dog, Moose, waits to continue the Sept. 11 hike.
ISLANDER PHOTO BY SARAH HINCKLEY

Seeing the opening, Carroll explained how she and Moose are hiking all 26 peaks of the park in 26 days to raise money for the park’s search and rescue team.  

“In reality it will be about 16 days of hiking,” she said at a different point in the outing. “I have a few cushion days for unexpected things that come up.” 

One of Carroll’s neighbors in the Hadley Point area is the president of MDI SAR and another is an officer with the National Park Service.  

“We know how hard they work,” she explained about why she wanted to raise money for the nonprofit organization. 

Two years ago, Carroll was hiking Dorr Mountain in the spring to start off her mountain climbing season. Attempting to avoid ice on a part of the trail, she instead stepped on a wet rock and her body went down quickly while her leg stayed in place.  

“In that moment I was like, oh no,” she said, feeling the strain on her knee immediately. “My next thought was, I’m not going to call MDI Search and Rescue.”  

Even though she was able to avoid a major break or sprain, it took Carroll a year and physical therapy to recover from the incident.  

“It made me realize it can happen to anyone,” she said. “My goal is to do this without needing search and rescue.” 

To donate, go to gofundme.com/f/mountains-with-moose-26-peaks-in-26-days. 

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Former Islander reporter Sarah Hinckley covered the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands.

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