Month: December 2016

Snails on Skis – Eastern Trail, Biddeford, ME

Earl bought a pair of cross-country skis recently and we’ve been anxious to get out and use them.

On Tuesday evening we did a 2-mile tour on the Eastern Trail, located behind the Southern Maine Medical Center in Biddeford. This is my favorite running trail in the warmer months.

It was a full moon on Tuesday night which made it especially lovely. We did have our headlamps, but only needed them when we were putting our skis on or popping the releases to remove them.

I was a bit uncomfortable skiing on Tuesday evening. I don’t know if it was because it was dark or if it was because the trail was ungroomed and a bit rough.

Today was different. It was snowing! The trail had 4-5″ of new fluffy snow on it. I loved it!

We skied out about 1.75 miles and then turned around. Earl was feeling a bit of rubbing on his heel. We stopped at one of the benches along the trail and he discovered he was getting a blister. Ouch!

We met only one other person on the trail, a woman, who was as happy as we were to be out playing in the snow.

For those of you who live in the colder regions of the country, please find a way to get outside during the colder, snowier months. I’m a relative newbie to enjoying the long winter months here in Maine, but I am so grateful that I finally did.

If you enjoy walking, invest in a pair of snowshoes or crampons so you can continue walking in the snow/cold. If you enjoy running, invest in crampons or skis and keep up your faster pace. There are a lot of outdoor winter activities. One of them is waiting for you to discover it!

Happy trails!

Great Bay Wildlife Refuge, Newington, NH

 

We had the pleasure of joining some of Earl’s co-workers for a hike at the Great Bay Wildlife Refuge in Newington, NH.

There are actually two trails at this location.

One is a shorter trail that to Peverly Pond. This trail is about a half-mile long and was mostly boardwalk. I couldn’t tell if the boardwalks served the purpose of protecting wetlands or if was to make the trail wheelchair friendly.

Whatever the reason, the boardwalk was lovely and blended into the woods as much as a boardwalk can.

The second trail is a 2-mile loop that starts at the Former Weapons Storage Facility (that was part of Pease Air Force Base). The trail follows a fenced area for a short distance, before breaking off into a field and then into the woods.

The hike was easy and because we were hiking with a group our pace was slower. We barely generated enough heat to stay warm. Once we reached the view point at the Great Bay, the man who coordinated this hike brought out a thermos of hot cocoa and paper cups.

The obligatory group photo was taken, snacks were eaten, and then we continued walking.

I have found there are many such woodsy havens located near me. We have started to explore some, but admit that we are elevation and distance snobs now. We like both. These shorter, flatter walks are not as satisfying, but I still enjoy them immensely. It’s wonderful knowing they are here for those days when we can’t drive to the mountains or have only a few hours for adventuring.

Ask family and friends about the hidden treasures in your area. If you are new to hiking, these are a great place to start. If you are a hiking pro, don’t overlook these gems. Remember to slow down and enjoy the moment.

Happy trails!

 

Maine Huts & Trails – Poplar Hut

Yes, we are gluttons for punishment. That’s why we were out of bed and on the road at 6:09 a.m. on a Saturday morning. A very cold (14 degrees Fahrenheit) Saturday morning.

But we had places to go!

Our plan for the day was to cross-country ski or hike to Poplar Hut, one of the Maine Huts & Trails huts.

We got to the trail head a little after 8 a.m. We were not quite sure where the parking lot was. The trail map we had didn’t quite match what we were finding. We parked on the side of the road and got out to see if we could figure things out.

A few hundred feet up the road/trail, we met a man with two big, bouncy dogs. He was a local who apparently helped confused hikers quite often. We weren’t sure what he’d been smoking or drinking, but the man wasn’t very steady on his feet, nor was he very coherent in his speaking.

It was too cold to be hanging around outside just chit-chatting, but we eventually learned what we needed. Apparently the trail head parking lot we’d planned to start from was no longer accessible. That section of trail was no longer maintained. But there was parking at the town office building, a short walk up the road, and this man assured us that the trail was okay to hike.

We parked the car at the town office and began the process of adding layers and putting on our packs. We opted to leave our skis in the car and hike up to the hut. We started hiking at around 9 a.m. and got there at around 10:40 a.m.

As we approached the hut, we were greeted by Carolann Ouellette, the new executive director. This certainly doesn’t happen every day at every hut. We had stumbled upon the training session for the staff that would operate the huts for the winter season. Carolann was actually watching for a few people to arrive to conduct the training. We were not those people!

Still, we were welcomed to the hut and invited inside to get warm.

The large dining room/meeting area was filled with enthusiastic workers so we headed up the stairs to a loft area to eat our lunch.

A short time later, the expected guests arrived and also came upstairs. It was Bob Peixotto, the chairman of the board. We had met Bob over Halloween weekend 2015 at the Flagstaff Hut.

Earl recognized him right away, but I never would have picked him out of a lineup. We chatted for a few minutes, then he headed downstairs to talk with the incoming staff. We headed downstairs, too, to listen.

As chairman of the board, Bob had a lot of information to share with these eager staff members. His talk was informative and interesting. I enjoyed the perspective he shared on Maine Huts & Trails being a non-profit organization that also needs to be run like a business so that mission can be achieved. Learn more about their mission.

We left the hut at around noontime and were back to the car by 1:20 p.m. The temperature hadn’t risen much–it was still only 18 degrees.

We were cold, but we were also glad we’d gotten out of bed and gone on this short adventure.

It’s weird to realize we spend about as much time driving to and from these destinations as we do actually adventuring. Some people might not think it would be worth it, but we do. After all, we are still spending time together. Isn’t that what matters?