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 That section of trail was no longer maintained.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?


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