Soon the Snow Will Fly
Up here in Maine it is time to begin preparing for the winter and, for me, that includes making plans for winter travel. Maine offers many diverse winter activities, the traditional and the not so traditional. Ever been ice fishing? How about skijoring?
In this column, and over the next few columns, I will share information about winter recreation in Maine, and some of the best places to join in the fun.
The Telemark Inn
The Telemark Inn, in Bethel, deep within the White Mountains, was built at the turn of the century, as a wealthy man’s private preserve. The Inn is a beautiful example of rustic elegance, so common in turn of the century Maine retreats. There is a huge stone fireplace, and a seven-foot round wood dining table, where guests share home-cooked meals.
The Telemark Inn offers 20 kilometers of groomed Nordic trails, which are on privately owned land, and therefore shared with only 12 other guests and a small number of day-skiers. There are also specially marked snowshoe trails, horse drawn sleigh rides, and a private pond for day, and night, ice-skating.
And, there is skijoring! Never heard of that? Well, if you are dog lover, and like to take your pet along on your travels, this might be just the place to go. Skijoring combines cross-country skiing with dog sledding. If you like to cross country ski, think about how much fun you could have while being pulled by a dog. And, yes, if you don’t have a dog (or your dog is not quite up to this sport) you can use one of the inn’s dogs.
There are various packages available, and ski, snowshoe, and skate rentals too. Bethel is in western Maine, near the New Hampshire border.
The Telemark Inn
RFD #2 Box 800
Bethel, Maine 04217
On beautiful Moosehead Lake is the Birches Ski Touring Center. This preserve includes 11,000 acres of unspoiled land, where visitors can cross-country ski, snowmobile and ice fish. Downhill skiing is available at nearby Squaw Mountain. The Birches offers fifteen log cabins, each with woodstove, bathroom and kitchen facilities. If you are not up to cooking after your day in the woods, you can have dinner at the Birches Restaurant.
There is plenty of room at the Birches preserve for everyone to go their own way. There are machine groomed trails and old logging roads. In all my visits to the Birches, I have always felt almost like I was the only one there. This is a wonderful place.
The Birches is on the western shore of Moosehead Lake, and is easily reached from any direction.
Registered Maine Guides
One of the most delightful, and individualized, ways of touring Maine is alongside a Maine Guide. These professionals are known for their many outdoor skills, in particular their ability to cook up gourmet meals in the most remote locations, and they have been an integral part of Maine travel for over one hundred years.
There are Maine Guides available for winter trips throughout Maine and, if you prefer backwoods travel in an area that you have not explored before, that would be the way to go. Following are some ideas about Maine Guides, as well as a web site that can assist you in identifying the best way to make your Maine winter plans.
Mahoosuc Guide Service
These registered Maine guides offer dogsled day and overnight trips, using their Yukon huskies. These dogs are wonderful and great fun to be around. No experience is necessary and the dogs do the work (all gear is carried on toboggans)!
Along with snowshoeing and cross-country ski tours, OmniVentures offers guided ice climbing instruction and trips. This is very exciting stuff, and takes place in some of the most beautiful country. Introductory and advanced lessons are given in Arcadia National Park, with all gear included and no previous experience necessary.
For more information about Maine guides offering a wide variety of guided activities, check out www.maineguides.com