With a chance to spend some time together over New Years, Chris and I opted to try out a ski trip on a trail system near Portland Maine. The Maine Huts & Trails is a great little network (45 miles) of trails connecting a series of environmentally friendly huts. Unfortunately given warm conditions the previous week, the trails were a frozen mess that meant a bit more of an adventure than we anticipated…
Starting at the Stratton Brook trail head, we could tell immediately that the trails were a disaster. All we had were our classic cross country skis and there were no tracks. In fact, the melting and freezing meant the trails weren’t even groomed. What a disaster. The first day we headed out on our 5km “ski”…which turned into an attempt to do some skate skiing, some double poling and some walking. We were really hoping the conditions improved over the coming days…
We were really pleased with the accommodations…the main hut provided a comfortable place to play games, meet new people and enjoy the fantastic food served by the friendly staff. The separate rooms were a bit cold (not nearly as warm as the main hut) so we bundled up a couple nights.
Heading out the second day on to the Poplar Hut (on Chris’ birthday), we immediately took a wrong turn (my bad ;))…and ended up out at the highway where we got picked up from a delightful local who plopped us in the back of his pick up and took us back to the parking lot we had started from the previous day so we could continue on to the next hut. Sigh.
So that day was a bit longer than anticipated…and boy was it cold. Temperature was around -29F. We were chilled by the time we got to the hut. With the huts sleeping about 40, we had a good group to sing happy birthday to Chris!
The next day was our last big “ski” – heading to the Flagstaff hut for New Years Eve. At this point, my morale was pretty low. I was cold, knew we had about 17kms ahead of us and conditions had not improved (if anything they had deteriorated). Poor Chris was fighting a cold (and it didn’t help that it was freezing outside and we were moving at a snails pace). As we plotted along…I continued to fall, forming a lovely collection of bruises on my right side. We ended up having to walk about a 3.5km segment as the trails were not in good condition. We were pretty over the trip by this time…
To make matters worse, about 3.5kms from the last hut, I fell once more and broke my pole. With only one pole, no tracks and a heavy pack, we opted to walk the rest of the way. Needless to say, we were pretty tired by the end of our journey to Flagstaff. Chris’ health had deteriorated so he spent some of the afternoon sleeping and I was pretty darn happy sipping a cider in front of the stove for a couple hours.
So to sum up the trip…horrible conditions, cold weather and bad luck but, we still laughed a ton, had a great time meeting some really lovely folks (Susan and Stan from Vermont) and played some good games of scrabble and cards.
The Maine huts and trails area is absolutely beautiful and the huts are very comfortable. I may not rush back to ski there but you wouldn’t have to twist my arm to do some trail running or mountain biking there.
Happy New Year!