Winter Adventuring into Maine Wilderness Lodges in the 100-Mile Wilderness
The 100-Mile Wilderness is perhaps Maine’s most enigmatic landscape, a vast 750,000-acre expanse of rugged hills and mountains, pristine lakes and ponds, free-flowing rivers and streams, and the next-to-last stretch of the renowned Appalachian Trail, all bookended by Moosehead Lake and the West Branch of the Penobscot River.
Trails galore in the 100-Mile Wilderness mean countless opportunities for day hikes and overnights treks in late spring, summer and fall. The best time to visit may well be winter, however, when cold weather adventurers can click into cross-country skis or strap on snowshoes for a wonderful journey into the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Maine Wilderness Lodges in the heart of the region. Here, you’ll enjoy an abundance of well-marked, groomed trails by day and outstanding, off-the-grid accommodations by night, a very special experience in a remote, awe-inspiring natural setting.
AMC became a landowner in the 100-Mile Wilderness 15 years ago, a bold move that helped connect a remarkable 65-mile corridor of conservation lands, and has since acquired more than 70,000 acres. AMC operates three traditional sporting camps and has built 120 miles of multi-use trails, an outdoor recreation bonanza, which is perfect for a winter weekend getaway with friends or family.
Medawisla Lodge and Cabins, on the west end of Second Roach Pond with a marvelous view of Katahdin, is accessible year-round via gravel logging roads. Miles of groomed ski trails emanate from the lodge, leading around the pond and to Shaw and Trout mountains nearby. For first-time winter visitors to the area, this place is a good choice.
Little Lyford Lodge is set amid deep woods, just a stone’s throw from the West Branch of the Pleasant River as well as Little Lyford Pond and its fabulous vista of Baker Mountain. Gulf Hagas, Maine’s spectacular “Grand Canyon,” is only a couple miles distant via marked ski trails.
Gorman Chairback Lodge and Cabins is situated at the east of Long Pond in the shadow of Third Mountain, part of the wild and rugged Barren-Chairback Range.
From the winter parking lot on Katahdin Iron Works Road, Hedgehog Gate Trail leads seven moderate miles to Little Lyford, while Gorman Chairback is reached in an easy 6.5 miles via Long Pond Trail. Make a long-weekend loop between the two lodges by following the Lodge-to-Lodge Trail. Guests can have overnight gear sledded into camp by snowmobile, making for lighter travel with just a daypack.
AMC’s Maine backcountry facilities feature cozy log or frame cabins, complete with a woodstove and warm bunks or beds. Each lodge sports a spacious dining room and lounge with a woodstove. Restrooms also have hot showers, and there’s a wood-fired sauna for steamy relaxation after a cold day of fun outdoors.
Meals are sumptuous and served family-style in the camaraderie of fellow travelers. Filet mignon, salmon, roasted chicken and mountains of side dishes, plus soup or salad and fresh baked bread, are typical dinner fare. Vegetarian dishes are also available. And there’s always a delicious dessert. Breakfast is an equally large affair, with an egg dish, a side of bacon or sausage, pancakes or French toast, potatoes, muffins, coffee and juice. Brown bag trail lunches include a hearty sandwich, salty snacks, cookies and fruit.
AMC’s Maine Wilderness Lodges can be a do-it-yourself adventure or you can arrange to go with an experienced guide. Either way, check with AMC for lodging information, trip planning and preparation details, trail maps, and tips for safe, enjoyable winter travel.
AMC’S Maine Wilderness Lodges
— Text & Photos: Carey Kish of Mt. Desert Island. Carey is editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide, author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast, and an avid beer drinker.
Join a Group for Cold Weather Running
Winter running in Maine is the epitome of “embracing the suck,” but dressing for the weather and joining a group can make all the difference. The elements outside can be intimidating, but it’s more runnable than you think. Before resorting to the treadmil, consider with the right shoes, clothes, and planning, winter running can actually be fun.
First, invest in the gear to keep you comfortable. For temperatures in the 30s, make sure you have a base layer of an undershirt (never cotton), some kind of insulating layer, such as fleece or wool, and over that, a vest to keep your core warm. Top that with a wind-resistant light jacket. You’ll also need some insulated running tights or leggings that can wick away the sweat, while holding in heat. For your extremities, plan on socks with sweat- resistant fabric, a hat, gloves and a neck warmer. Don’t wear all black: keep your layers bright so traffic can spot you.
Next, find the motivation. When the temps are below freezing, having the support of a group can help you reach your goals and stay on track. It’s easy to ignore the alarm and pull the blanket over your head, but knowing there’s a group of people waiting for you can help you push excuses aside and get out the door.
Sometimes, just joining a group is the hardest part, especially if you’re new to running, but after taking the plunge into a group run, be prepared for instant camaraderie and community. Chances are there will be someone with a similar pace to your own.
Group runs can push you to do things you would never consider solo, be it a hill workout or Sunday morning long run.
Group training keeps the conversation flowing and the miles seem to fly by. Suddenly, those long runs don’t seem so long anymore.
Every runner deals with high and lows during a run, and sometimes those lows can really take a toll on your mental and physical toughness. When running with a group, you’re surrounded by people who have experienced the same things and can help pull you out of a slump when you may have otherwise quit, had you been running solo. Helping someone achieve their goals can be as fulfilling as nailing your own workout.
So, layer up and find your tribe. There’s something about fighting the elements, pushing through it together, and upon return, swapping high-fives and bonding over the experience you just endured.
— Text & Photos: Chelsea Patterson. Chelsea is a member of Thick Quad Squad, a weatherproof (rain or shine) run club and community offering free weekly runs and events for all paces. The group meets at Coffee By Design on 1 Diamond Street in Portland every Sunday at 8:00 a.m. For the most up-to-date meeting times and info, please visit our social media Instagram: THICKQUADSQUADRUNNING.
White Heat & Whiskey
White Heat casts an impressive vision from the road leading into Sunday River. From the proper angle, it looks like a wall of white. If you didn’t have a healthy respect for White Heat and Shock Wave (to the left looking up), the warning signs posted as you get off the chair will have you paying attention. It starts off with a couple of nice gentle rollers, then the long consistent pitch drops off and you know you’re in for a good ride.
Early in the day when skier’s right (looking downhill) is freshly groomed, you will not find a snow surface any finer. The smooth corduroy begs you to unleash as much speed and as high an edge angle as you dare. The first time I skied White Heat, the snow was firm, but easy to carve. I could hear the snow landing and sliding from the rooster tail coming off my skis. I was honestly giggling by the time I reached the bottom.
Approach White Heat with fresh legs, smooth snow surface, and sharp edges. Then, whether you opt for smooth, rhythmic speed control turns or laying them over as far as you can in huge giant slalom turns embracing your inner Ted Ligety, you’ll want all your strength, balance, and concentration.
Pay particular attention to that last part—concentration. If you tumble on White Heat, several things will happen. You will spread your gear in a classic “yard sale”; you will slide a considerable distance, and last but most certainly not least, you will be vocally and ruthlessly judged by the skiers and riders on the chair running right over White Heat. It always reminds me of the Lunch Rocks crowd at Tuckerman Ravine. Whenever someone eats it, there’s a moment of respectful silence to ensure they’re not injured, then uproarious cheers and laughter once they raise a hand.
Once you’ve blazed a couple of runs down White Heat, you’ll need some refreshment. Equip yourself with a bottle of Fifty Stone Highland Style Whiskey. This whiskey reminds me of a Balvenie or a Glenmorangie—a smooth single malt style with a bit of complexity hidden beneath its smooth golden complexion. You won’t be disappointed with the first sip, the warm embrace, and the smooth finish. I prefer it with a single ice cube to impart a wee bit of water to open the whiskey and cool it down. So, pour yourself a glass, and have a seat. Better yet, pour yourself a double.
— Text: Lafe Low. Life is the former editor of Explore New England and Outdoor Adventure magazines. He is also the author of Best Tent Camping: New England, Best Hikes on the Appalachian Trail: New England, and 60 Hikes within 60 Miles of Boston, 2nd Edition. He has no more room in his garage for any more skis, but that will not stop him from trying.
Winter on Wheels
The growing popularity of fat biking has opened the door to exhilarating winter riding across Maine. Prepare to meet the powder with our newcomer’s guide.
DID YOU, ONCE AGAIN, HANG UP YOUR BIKE HELMET FOR THE SEASON WITH A PANG OF REGRET?
The colder months no longer need to be an enforced separation from two wheels. Fat bikes make it easy for riders of all levels to explore Maine’s snowy trails with ease, once you know what to wear, where to go and how to stay safe.
Meet Your Ride
Don’t let the chunky tires and rigid frame intimidate you; fat bikes are designed to float smoothly over snow, sand, and mud. While most models have only front suspension or none at all, the balloon-like four-to-five- inch tires cushion impact and offer stability, even on heavy terrain. The sport’s booming popularity means that bike shops such as Gorham Bike & Ski in Portland or Barker Mountain Bikes in Bethel will kit you out with a rental and a helmet for $40-$65. All designated trail areas listed below also offer fat bike rentals, along with the purchase of a day trail pass. Make sure the shop fits you with the correct size bike and suitable tire pressure for the day’s conditions.
Like most cold-weather activities, the key to comfortable fat biking lies in layering. The initial acceleration in the cold air will feel chilly, but after a few minutes pedaling, you’ll heat up fast. Wear a sweat-wicking base layer in either a wool or polyester blend to ensure you stay warm and dry. Combine this with a waterproof outer shell or a mid-layer fleece on extra cold or windy days. Thermal tights or leggings will do the trick on dry days and can be combined with waterproof pants for slushier conditions. A chamois is also a great way to keep a little cushion between you and the bike seat during longer rides.
We all know the key to happiness with winter sports is warm fingers and toes. A pair of ski socks and hiking boots provide suitable footwear for beginners. You may lean toward mittens for warmth, but gloves are preferable as they allow braking dexterity. Ski or winter running gloves will do the trick. A microfiber neck warmer that can double as a headband will cut the cold air to your face and sit comfortably beneath the most important accessory of all: a helmet. Don’t leave without one.
Fuel the Fun
The dry, cold Maine air will make hydration a number- one priority. Fix a water bottle to your frame or carry a CamelBak filled with hot water and drink it often to counter insensible water loss. Reward your imminent exercise early by stocking up on calories before you ride. Winter sports demand a lot of energy, so feast on a mix of carbs and protein before you go and bring along energy gels and bars for a mid-ride refuel.
While large tires allow you to cruise over a variety of terrain and snow conditions, the best riding is found on groomed trails, where packed snow makes pedaling easier. This means you can ride on snowmobile trail networks throughout the state. Sugarloaf isn’t just for skiers anymore; the Carrabassett Valley has picturesque riding among its Nordic trail network. Elsewhere in southern Maine, Pineland Farms allows bikers access to its 15 miles of snowshoeing trails. For $30 you’ll get a bike, helmet and trail pass for two hours. This season, Bethel Village Trails expanded its trail system to include dedicated fat bike access in western Maine.
A trail pass and bike rental can be obtained from Barker Mountain Bikes for $45. For a full day’s biking up north, the AMC Maine’s 100-Mile Wilderness offers 80 miles of ski and snowmobile trails east of Moosehead Lake.
It’s essential to check snow conditions prior to riding, just as you would skiing. Trail networks may expand or limit fat bike access depending on conditions.
— Text: Saisie Moore. Saisie has worked at Portland Monthly and The Daily Telegraph in London. When she’s not writing, she explores Maine and beyond in a converted camper van with mountain bike in tow.
Winter Gear Reviews
LIBERTY ROGUE OUTDOORS
SHIVER SHIELD EXTREME COLD WEATHER GEAR
by Alex Ribar
Shiver Shield is a line of extreme cold weather gear manufactured to be thin, light, and resistant to the coldest temperatures on earth. Using NASA-inspired technology, the insulation is just three-to-five mm thick and will withstand the cold better than any other gear on the market. Shiver Shield also stands behind their jackets and pants with a limited lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects.
In March 2018, Liberty Rogue Outdoors put the Shiver Shield Extreme Cold Weather Gear to the test. I personally spent two days and two nights testing this product on a mountain near my home here in Maine. My only clothing was the Shiver Shield jacket and pants. I used a tarp for shelter and did not use a sleeping bag. I slept on the ground with just the Shiver Shield gear, a good pair of cold weather boots and gloves as well as the Shiver Shield Beanie. I was comfortable and warm all night!
Shiver Shield has been featured on the CBS show “The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation,” where the host of the program was sprayed down with liquid nitrogen. That’s -320 degrees Fahrenheit! The clothing remained pliable and did not get brittle and the host remained protected throughout the ordeal.
For extreme cold weather adventures, such as ice fishing, snowmobiling and hunting, Liberty Rogue Outdoors highly recommends Shiver Shield gear. I personally feel you can go further, stay outside longer, and fulfill your quest.
For more information on Shiver Shield and the products they offer, go to
DIAMOND GRIP AND SUMMIT
By Lafe Low
Walking or hiking anywhere in Maine is often a bruise-and-embarrassment-inducing exercise once the temperature hovers steadily below the freezing mark. The wisest walkers among us will equip ourselves with a pair of Yaktrax traction cleats. These beauties will have you saying, “Ice? What ice?”
There’s a whole range of burliness levels for the different Yaktrax models, from commuting down Congress Street in Portland to summiting Old Speck on a day that would keep the Yeti in his cave. The line includes the Walk, Run, Pro, Diamond Grip, Summit, and Ski models. The lower models are fine for ensuring you won’t perform a dramatic pratfall as you’re entering the office, but the Diamond Grip and Summit are the ones for more serious—and safe—winter hiking. The Ski model, as the name implies, is to keep you similarly attached to Mother Earth while walking from your car to the chairlift. Ski ($20), Diamond Grip ($45), The Summit ($90)
Secure Your Size
As with any footwear, even an accessory like this, sizing is critical. Yaktrax recommends adding two sizes for insulated boots like Sorels or something like that. For regular hiking boots, the general S, M, L, XL, XXL should be fairly accurate.
MSR EVO TRAIL SNOWSHOES
by Carey Kish
From the packed snow of groomed tracks to the variable conditions in the wooded hills and mountains—for all but the most technical terrain, really—MSR Evo Trail snowshoes are up to the task, as they have reliably been for more than two decades and for untold numbers of confident users. The Evo Trails feature a super versatile binding that are easy to get in and out of with gloved hands, and accept a wide variety of winter boot types. Bonus: the bindings lay flat and are easily strapped to your pack. The eight-inch wide, 22-inch long plastic decking accommodates many different users (body weights, gear carried) and snow conditions (hard pack to deep powder). Use the six-inch tail extensions for even greater flotation. Full-length steel traction blades, molded braking bars and toe crampons offer secure purchase. For extended snowshoe adventures, extra straps, strap clips and the tiny repair kit are recommended.
Retail price: $139 (the Float Tails are an additional $49)
Maine Outdoor Adventure Club encourages networking and new friendships
Headed outdoors? Want some company? Members of the Maine Outdoor Adventure Club can always find someone with whom to hit the trails and waterways of the Pine Tree State.
“MOAC is a member-driven organization,” said the group’s president, Jeffery Berry of South Portland. “It’s really based off what people want to do.”
The organization itself hosts four events annually, one each quarter.
“That’s just a chance for members to get to see each other in a group setting,” said Berry, emphasizing that most of the club’s activities are organized by its approximately 700 members. Anyone who wants to plan a trip can post details on the members-only portion of the group’s website at moac.org. Other members can then join in.
“The members who post make the decision on where they want to go,” said Berry, who joined the group about a year ago.
“The key thing is [MOAC] just gets me more active and out with like-minded individuals,” said Berry, who participated in a canoeing trip in Machias recently. “I got to have people in my canoe that I might not have met otherwise.”
He described the club as an activities and social group that aims to get people outdoors.
“We’re a social club with a hiking problem,” he quipped.
Of course, the group’s activities are not limited to hiking.
“Our outdoor activities range from peaceful and relaxing to challenging and full of excitement,” states the website. “From the extremes of winter camping, ice/rock climbing, strenuous hiking, mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, to the gentle sail, walk or snowshoe, MOAC has something to offer everyone.”
The group was originally founded in 1989 and ran operated through the magazine Casco Bay Weekly. Though the magazine no longer exists, the club has survived and gone digital.
More than half of the group’s membership is retired, said Berry, though the organization is not specifically geared toward older folks. Many younger people join, but get sidetracked by work and family obligations.
“Life keeps getting in the way,” he said. “We’d like to attract more younger folks.”
Most MOAC members also live in southern Maine. In addition to organized annual activities and member-led trips, the group hosts monthly meetings in Portland. About 50 people typically attend these meetings, which include speakers discussing topics ranging from outdoor cooking to first aid.
Membership is $20 annually for an individual and $30 for a family. It includes full access to the website, where members can organize trips and chat, as well as access to the MOAC library, which includes reviews and how-to guides. It also includes a monthly emailed newsletter, discounts, voting privileges and even what the website describes as a “nifty” car decal.
For those who want to know more, the monthly meetings are open to the public as are some of activities, such as films devoted to conservation topics, trail maintenance days, a fall foliage paddle and winter activities.
— Text: Johanna S. Billings. Johanna is an avid hiker as well as an award-winning writer and photographer. She is based in Steuben.
Hikes & Brews: Borestone Mountain and The Lakeshore House
Borestone Mountain Audubon Sanctuary is a 1,693-acre wildlife preserve in Elliotsville owned and managed by Maine Audubon. The Base and Summit trails combine to guide hikers up the craggy twin peaks of Borestone Mountain, which rises prominently to 1,981 feet.
Make the two-mile climb (one-way) to enjoy spectacular views northward over Onawa Lake to Baker Mountain and the rugged ridgeline of the Barren-Chairback Range, and beyond into the famed 100-Mile Wilderness. Halfway along the route is Sunrise Pond, one of three ponds high on the mountain, and the Robert T. Moore Nature Center, which features wildlife exhibits and displays on the interesting history of the property. Short side trails from the center lead to more pond vistas and to the remains of an old fox farm.
The Lakeshore House is a fun-and-friendly place with a lively atmosphere right in the heart of the pretty little village of Monson, perfect for enjoying cold beer and good food alongside local patrons, travelers and Appalachian Trail hikers. Eight taps range from Pabst Blue Ribbon to Guinness, with six rotating microbrews between, plus there’s a fine selection of bottled brews. Settle in at the bar or relax outside on the shore of Lake Hebron, known for its beautiful sunsets. The menu is deliciously eclectic and the portions are appropriately hiker-sized. On Thursday nights and Sundays, the house vibrates with the sounds of talented musicians. Owner Rebekah Anderson’s best advice for visiting this great little pub: “If you’re in a hurry, this is not the place to be.”
Hike: Borestone Mountain Sanctuary
www.maineaudubon.org, 207-717-6001 (June -September), 207-781-2330 (October – May)
Brew: The Lakeshore House, thelakeshorehouse.com, 207-997-7069
— Text & Photos: Carey Kish of Mt. Desert Island. Carey is an avid beer drinker, editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide, and author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast.
Hikes & Brews: Klondike Mountain Preserve & Lubec Brewing
The 46-acre Klondike Mountain Preserve is home to the namesake mountain as well as some 3,600 feet of saltwater shorefront on South Bay, an arm that’s part of Cobscook Bay. Summit views from diminutive Klondike Mountain (150 ft.) offer a delightfully beautiful panorama of the Lubec landscape, the easternmost town in the U.S. From the North Lubec Road trailhead, Klondike Mountain Trail wanders through old pastures and an orchard. Explore the spur path to Fowler’s Mill Pond before climbing to the craggy outlooks atop the twin peaks of Klondike Mountain, which is thought to have gotten its name during the Great Gold Swindle of Lubec, a scandalous hoax to extract gold from seawater perpetrated by strangers from away in 1897. The hike is an easy one-mile jaunt.
Nuclear physicist-turned-brewer Gale White fell in love with the Maine coast while on vacation and never looked back. Opened in 2015 on the downtown waterfront, Lubec Brewing is a welcoming place with big picture windows that frame Lubec Narrows and New Brunswick, Canada’s Campobello Island. Settle in on a comfy couch with a pint of Quoddy Head Red, the most popular brew and one of five classic German-style beers regularly on tap, among the many experimental beers White likes to make (some 23 different brews in 2017). Everything on the food menu is organic and locally grown as far as possible, which changes all of the time, but you can always count on the sourdough pizza, the pub’s specialty. Relax in the salty atmosphere, play a board game, and listen to talented area musicians most nights.
Hike: Downeast Coastal Conservancy
Brew: Lubec Brewing Company
Lubec Brewing Company on Facebook 207-733-4555
— Text: Carey Kish of Mt. Desert Island. Carey is an avid beer drinker, editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide, and author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast.
Maine Track Club’s Turkey Trot 5K Turns 50
The Maine Track Club Turkey Trot 5K will take place on Sunday, November 18, 2018. This will be the 50th anniversary of the race, making it one of the oldest 5Ks in the State of Maine.
Dick Goodie founded the race in 1969 and was the Race Director until handing it off to the Maine Track Club in 1978. The Turkey Trot was inducted into the Maine Running Hall of Fame in 2014. In 2015, it was the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) Eastern Regional 5K Championship and in 2013 was the RRCA Maine State 5K Championship. The Turkey Trot also had the distinction in 2012 of being the inaugural celebratory 5K of Girls on the Run – Maine.
The Turkey Trot has averaged 740 registered runners over the past six years with a peak of 840 registered runners in 2013. The race is capped at 1,000 registered runners.
The USATF certified course starts at the Cape Elizabeth High School and initially runs through the center of Cape Elizabeth. After leaving the center of town the course runs downhill and then through several neighborhoods before heading back uphill to the Cape Elizabeth Middle School for the finish.
The course records for the Turkey Trot belong to Ethan Hemphill who ran 15:24 in 2004 and Emily Durgin who ran 16:51 in 2016.
The beneficiary of the Turkey Trot is Wayside Food Programs. Wayside is a major distributor of surplus meals and provider of community meals to those in need in the greater Portland area. Over the past six years the Turkey Trot has contributed $19,000 and collected 11,500 lbs. of food for Wayside. This is the equivalent of serving 22,000 meals to those less fortunate during the holiday season.
The race would not be possible without its sponsors. The presenting sponsor of the Turkey Trot is Fleet Feet Maine Running. Other race sponsors are Hannaford Supermarket, Target, Poland Springs and Cape Integrated Health.
The Turkey Trot is truly a community event as every year there are two dozen volunteers from Cape Elizabeth High School who help with the Kid’s Fun, water station, flagging and finish line water.
For more information, visit the Turkey Trot 5k on Facebook.
Dick is the author of The Maine Quality of Running, a book about Maine’s rich heritage of runners. Published in 1984, it is a timeless read for anyone interested in the sport and history of Maine running.
Take a Monumental Trip to Katahdin Woods & Waters
If you want to get away from it all, consider a trip to the new Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.
This location in Penobscot County, established by former President Barack Obama in August 2016, offers few of the amenities of modern life. You will find no large shopping centers and cell service will be spotty at best. On the other hand, it’s the perfect spot for the person whose ideal vacation is to spend the day in nature without seeing another person. Because of its remote location, there’s a good chance you will get to see wildlife during your visit.
Recently, the Katahdin monument was in danger of having its designation rescinded following the Trump administration’s scrutiny of 27 of the nation’s national monuments.
However, the U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in late 2017 he would not recommend eliminating any of the 27 national monuments.
Katahdin is part of a large region of conserved land offering hiking and other outdoor activities. You could easily spend an entire vacation exploring just the national monument and experience only a fraction of what the 87,563 acres have to offer. If you want to cover more ground, you can visit the adjacent Baxter State Park, land owned by the Nature Conservancy or the North Woods, all of which also offer a plethora of outdoor activities.
Katahdin’s main draw is the fact that it is still totally undeveloped. At this time, there is no park office or ranger station, and no restaurants, snack bars or even little stores on the property yet. Millinocket is the last town before you enter true wilderness. Be sure to pack your lunch, plenty of water and anything else you might need for a day. If you forget something, you’ll just have to do without or lose the better part of the day going back for it.
Admission to the monument is currently free. Access to Baxter State Park is free for Maine residents but non-residents will have to pay a $15 entrance fee per vehicle. Access to the North Woods is $10 per person per day for Maine residents and $15 per person per day for non-residents.
Whichever area you visit, home base will most likely be Millinocket, which offers lodging, including hotels and cabins, as well as restaurants. Perhaps the most famous of the eateries is the Appalachian Trail Cafe, a favorite stop among AT through- hikers. The AT includes approximately 30 miles through the national monument before it ends at the adjacent Baxter State Park. Trail hikers are allowed to sign the cafe ceiling tiles to celebrate their accomplishment and the restaurant offers some souvenirs. A couple of gift shops and information centers are located in town for more souvenirs and to help you plan your days.
From Millinocket, you will need about an hour to drive to the Katahdin Loop Road, a 14-mile unpaved loop that offers scenic lookouts and access to trails. Start by taking Route 11, a.k.a the Katahdin Woods & Waters Scenic Byway, until you reach a dirt logging road called Swift Brook Road. You will follow this for 12 miles before you actually reach the monument and the loop road. Be aware that logging trucks have the right of way on these roads, so go slow and always let them pass.
One of the nicest trails in the area of the Monument is Barnard Mountain, a 2.3-mile trail with spectacular views of Mount Katahdin, Katahdin Lake and beyond. The trailhead is located just off the Katahdin Loop Road before mile marker 12. From there, you must hike a mile or two down a logging trail in order to reach the actual Barnard Mountain trail. At the end of the hike, you will reach a picnic table perched on a rock and an overlook of the woods and waters in the distance. You may even see moose near the summit where they hang out in the summer.
For more information on how to plan your trip, visit nps.gov/kaww/planyourvisit/index.htm.
For more information about the Barnard Mountain Trail visit: mainetrailfinder.com/trails/trail/barnard-mountain-trail
— Text & Photos: Johanna S. Billings. Johanna is a nationally award-winning writer and photographer based in Steuben. She enjoys going to remote areas for hiking vacations planned by her husband, Sean.
The Maine Sculpture Trail
If you’re looking for a way to enjoy the outdoors that isn’t too strenuous, consider the Maine Sculpture Trail, an art installation along almost 300 miles of the Maine Coast.
The trail consists of 34 granite sculptures made by artists from all over the world. These artists came to Down East Maine, during the Schoodic International Sculpture Symposium in 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2014.
Steuben resident Jesse Salisbury was the driving force behind the creation of the trail. He organized the symposium as a way to spark cultural activity in the area and, in the process, created a large, public art collection.
Washington County is home to 10 of the sculptures. In geographic order, they are found in Steuben, Milbridge, Harrington, Addison, Jonesport, Roque Bluffs, Machias, Lubec, Eastport and Calais.
Most of them are easily accessed from Route 1, a.k.a., the Bold Coast Scenic Byway. Following the trail gives you a chance to get off the beaten path and see the towns and villages along the coast that you might otherwise miss. The Steuben sculpture is located at the Henry D. Moore Library and Parish House, just a hop, skip and a jump from Route 1. History buffs can also visit a Civil War monument nearby.
The sculpture in Milbridge is located at the end of School Street, along the Narraguagus River. Enjoy the view from Adirondack chairs situated next to the sculpture. Those up for a short walk can take a stroll through Riverside Park.
Fuel up with breakfast at the Milbridge House. Then, enjoy a meal later in the day at Deano’s Takeout, Vazquez Mexican Takeout, The Wheelhouse or the Good N Plenty Buffet. The Meadow’s Takeout in Steuben offers excellent fare as well. Overnight accommodations are available at the Red Barn Motel in Milbridge.
From Milbridge, take Route 1A to the next sculpture, located inside a paved walking track next to the Harrington Health Center. It can be seen from the highway or you can park and enjoy a walk around the loop.
Many of the sculptures are located on the water. In Addison Point Park, you can see the sculpture as well as a lovely view of the Pleasant River. The next one, located in a Jonesport town park, also overlooks the water. After that, visit the sculpture in Roque Bluffs State Park, where you can enjoy hiking, swimming and picnicking.
In Machias, look for the sculpture on the campus of the University of Maine at Machias. While you’re in town, explore the waterfall and grounds at Bad Little Falls Park.
Machias offers numerous options for food and lodging. Restaurant options include Helen’s, the Bluebird Ranch, Skywalker’s/Machias River Brewing and Pat’s Pizza. You can stay at the Machias River Inn or the Bluebird Motel.
The sculpture in Lubec is situated in Stockford Park, just outside of town. In the background, you can see the bridge from Lubec to Campobello Island, New Brunswick. Lubec is also home to the Lost Fishermen’s Memorial, which Salisbury was commissioned to create. For good food and cold brews, the main attraction is Lubec Brewing Co., which opens at 2 p.m. Thurs-Sun and serves dinner, starting at 5 p.m.
Taking the trip to Eastport may seem far off off the beaten path, but the drive is worth it. To reach the Eastport sculpture, turn off Route 1 onto Route 190 and follow that for about seven miles into town. The sculpture is downtown, in the midst of a quaint shopping district overlooking the water. There, you can catch several other sculptures, including one of a mermaid.
Then, from there head back up to Calais up to Route 1, where the sculpture is located downtown in front of the library. Visitors can check out the antique shops downtown as well as Wabanaki Culture Center, which illustrates how the Native Americans of the area have lived in the outdoors.
Salisbury worked with writers and photographers to produce the book, Creating the Maine Sculpture Trail: Legacy of the Schoodic International Sculpture Symposium. The book, which covers the history of the trail, is available for sale at schoodicsculpture.org. Sculpture maps can also be downloaded from this site.
— Text & photos: Johanna S. Billings. Johanna is an award-winning writer/photographer and antiques dealer based in Steuben. She enjoys visiting the sculptures along the trail.
Forest Therapy: An Ancient Ritual for Modern-Day Mindfulness
Today, human beings are more detached from nature than ever before. It is vital that we find ways to keep that connection alive in our modern world and Forest Therapy is one way of doing just that.
In the past few years, Forest Therapy has piqued the interest of many healthcare practitioners and nature lovers. It is admired for its health benefits and the ease with which it aids people in reconnecting with nature. The practice found its conception in Japan under a different name. Shinrin-Yoku, or “Forest Bathing” as it translates, has been prescribed to folks in Japan for several decades with the support of the government. Shinrin-Yoku was founded under the intuitive belief that spending time in nature is good for our health. Since its first appearance in the Japanese healthcare system, it has caught the attention of the world and has spread its roots to many other countries, undergoing much research to prove its benefits. Studies have shown that spending up to an hour in nature reduces the stress hormone cortisol, meaning participants of a forest therapy walk usually leave feeling a sense of improved health and a positive change in mood overall.
Forest Therapy Walks, as they are known in the States, support health, happiness, and well -being, through reconnection with nature. Walks are intended to promote wellness through a series of slow-paced sensory-awareness and mindfulness practices where guides invite participants to interact with nature in new ways. Forest Therapy is unique in that it can’t be characterized as “therapy” or “outdoor recreation” in any traditional sense. It is a practice of slowing down, unplugging and wandering through nature as a means to deepen connections, open and answer questions, and revitalize each individual’s life-force. Unlike a hike or outdoor adventure class, this is a practice in simply observing and does not require any naturalist training or outdoor experience. As one wanders, nature may provide the therapy they seek. The guide does not act as a therapist but is merely there to open the door to one’s connection with nature.
As the practice emerges in the United States, organizations such as the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy are working hard to inform people of this exciting new field of wellness. ANFT is training new guides each year, currently certifying hundreds of practitioners across the country and the world at large. Guides have incredibly varying occupations and experience; from nurses to farmers, artists to bushcrafters, folks from all age groups and all walks of life. Under ANFT’s guidelines, a full Forest Therapy Walk consists of several guided invitations; beginning by opening the senses, then moving through and interacting with nature in a mindful way, and ending with a light council, where participants reflect on their experiences as they enjoy freshly foraged tea. Each walk lasts two to three hours, and are led with the intent of being safe and as accessible as possible while maintaining the Leave No Trace principle.
If the sound of a walk interests you, the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy has a Guide Locator Map with a growing database of guides around the globe. Find a guide near you and learn more about the walks they provide. No matter what environment you are in, there is always something positive to be gained from spending a little time outside.
— Photos and Text: Mishka Viscardi. Mishka is an ANFT certified practitioner and founder of Ravyn Walks, a guided forest therapy service in Western Mass. A Smith College alumna with a degree in Sociology, she brings to the field her passion for nature, love of people, creativity, craftsmynship, and love of mentorship. When she isn’t guiding walks, she works as a Wilderness Skills Instructor and a Personal Care Attendant.
Hikes & Brews in Greater Portland
Spring Point Shoreway & Foulmouthed Brewing
The historic Spring Point Shoreway takes you on a scenic stroll along South Portland’s waterfront. From the Willow Street trailhead, head north along Willard Beach, taking in views of Casco Bay islands Cushing, House, Little Diamond, Great Diamond and Peaks. Meander through the Southern Maine Community College campus and the school’s Shoreway Arboretum. Beyond that, scamper along the top of the old battlements of Fort Preble, then hike the long jetty of giant granite blocks to Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse. Pass by several marinas to get to Bug Light Park and the Liberty Ship Memorial. Ahead is elegant Bug Light, modeled on an ancient Greek monument. Return to the start by ambling through the neighborhood streets. This roughly four-mile loop is easy.
On Ocean St. in South Portland, not far from the Fore River, is where you’ll find Foulmouthed Brewing, housed in an old auto garage that’s been beautifully renovated. The interesting name is a play on words dating to the 17th century, when this region of Casco Bay was named Falmouth; it also alludes to the salty language used by dock and shipyard workers of the day. With big bay windows and lots of light, this neighborhood brewpub is surprisingly cozy and comfortable. Owners Craig and Julia Dilger are brewing up a wide variety of experimental beers, and with six to nine drafts, there’s always something for everyone, but not always quite the same (although popular brews are repeated). Try a flight, then order up a full pour of your favorite. The menu is upscale pub food (oh, the corn dog!) and there are also twists on classic cocktails.
Hike: South Portland Land Trust
Brew: Foulmouthed Brewing – 207-618-6977
— Text & Photos: Carey Kish of Mt. Desert Island. Carey is an avid beer drinker, editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide, and author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast.
A Beginner’s Guide to Fly Fishing Gear
Standing in the shadow of the ghostly brick mill along the banks of the Presumpscot River at Mallison Falls, I watch a cold breeze blow over the water’s surface. The cool air, along with the 40-degree river water flowing over my waders, is a welcome surprise on this unseasonable 88-degree day in early May. I’ve waited all winter for the chance to drift my fly line for trout in one of southern Maine’s tapestry of rivers; the electric anticipation of each cast makes my fingers tremble.
I don’t know it yet, but I’m about to catch the biggest brown trout of my life.
Let’s rewind three weeks earlier to a raw day in April. As the snow banks in Maine receded this spring, my mind naturally drifted from skiing to fly-fishing. That’s when I start talking to anyone who will listen about the transcendent nature of this sport. But the rod, reel, line, and tackle necessary for fly-fishing can sometimes overwhelm beginning anglers.
But, let it be my mission to demystify the world of fly-fishing gear and get you on a river in Maine catching trout and salmon this summer and fall.
On a dreary afternoon, I escaped the cruel April rain and stepped inside All Points Fly Shop + Outfitter in South Portland. Over the soft hum of an electric line spooler, owner Josh Thelin was talking to a customer about an upcoming fishing trip he planned to take to Labrador, Canada.
This July, Thelin will celebrate one year of being open on Route 1. To say his shop is small doesn’t quite capture the closet vibe of All Points. Despite the cramped feel, the walls and shelves are loaded with fishing gear that Thelin has carefully curated for trout fishing in Maine. In addition to the storefront, a portion of his business comes from Internet sales and guided fishing trips.
Thelin grabbed two chairs from a back office, and he and I sat in the middle of his quaint shop to talk fly-fishing.
“About 15 years ago, fly fishing turned into a crazy obsession,” said Thelin, a Cape Elizabeth native. During our conversation, he was excited to talk about fishing, revealing a deep knowledge of the sport.
Thelin explained that fly-casting—the most poetic and challenging part of fly-fishing—is all about physics. A medium-flex, nine-foot rod gives a fisherman more force to send a weightless fly through the air.
As far as a reel, Thelin stated, “A beginning fisherman doesn’t need a high-end reel. Mainly, the reel is just a home for the line.”
He walked me around his shop pointing out a beginner’s outfit: Redington Classic Trout Rod ($120), Rio Gold Fly Line ($80), and a Redington Zero Fly Reel ($90).
“That combination will last you a lifetime,” he said, before adding, “Unless you get really into fly-fishing—then the rabbit hole is deep.” It was clear from his wry smile that he was speaking from experience.
Before leaving, I asked what flies he recommended to beginning anglers. To be successful at fishing in Maine, he argued, an angler has to fish everything: dry flies, nymphs, and streamers.
Here’s a quick-and-dirty overview of flies. Dry flies drift on the surface and mimic bugs that fly in the air. Nymphs are fished below the surface and resemble bug larvae. Streamers are imitation baitfish largely meant to mimic smelt.
To catch trout in Maine he suggests starting with an Elk Hair Caddis dry fly, Caddis and Stonefly nymphs, and Grey Ghost and Wooly Bugger streamers.
So that’s it. For about $300, you can get outfitted with a rod, a reel, a line, and a box of flies that will open up a vast new world, one offering a deeper connection to Maine’s landscape that on its best days I can only describe as spiritual.
Back on the Presumpscot River, I drift my Caddis nymph through the fast moving current. I strip the line and feel a hard tug on my rod—the ancient dance between man and fish has begun. I pull in some line, but the fish runs toward the current. I let it run, then tighten the line. I keep my rod tip high; my arm starts to ache. This fish is big. The dance continues, until finally, a slick body breaks the surface. I slide my net under its belly and an 18-inch, four-pound brown trout settles into the webbing. Goosebumps prickle my skin. From the black surface of this river, I have coaxed a giant trout with a tiny fly.
As I cup the prehistoric fish, I think of an old adage made new: “Buy a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and, maybe, just maybe, he’ll catch an 18-inch brown trout on a size 12 Caddis nymph.”
— Text & Photos: Dave Patterson. Dave is a novelist and freelance writer from Cape Elizabeth with a penchant for fly-fishing, craft beer, and all things Maine.
How to Take Photos After Dark
Vacations are a time to get away, explore, see and do new things, make memories, relax and of course take pictures. There are numerous tourist attractions, landmarks and other excursions that are worthy of taking a camera and should not be missed.
Yet, come evening, many people tend to put their cameras away and that’s when you can often make your most memorable vacation images.
Photographing at night can be very rewarding, especially if you want to share the images you make with your friends and family on social media. With just moonlight and or street lights you can make some dramatic pictures. What’s more —when visiting popular places at night, you’ll likely find parking to be easier, fewer crowds—and you can skip the suntan lotion.
So, here is what you’ll need to get started taking pictures under moonlight:
A camera that can take long exposures of at least 20 seconds, a tripod, and a flashlight.
Put your camera on manual mode to allow you to set the shutter speed to 20 seconds and the Lens Aperture to f/5.6 or lower if your lens allows. The sensitivity or ISO will want to be set around 3200 – 4000 for the low-light levels you will be capturing. To minimize camera shake, use a tripod or steady your camera on a fixed surface and use the built-in timer, so when you press the shutter button, the camera will have a chance to stabilize before taking the picture – usually the two-second timer is adequate. Set your White Balance to Daylight since moonlight is just reflected sunlight. A half to full moon can bathe the landscape with a quality of light that can look like daylight. Try capturing scenes that you’d normally do in the daytime, but under moonlight to make an image that is truly dramatic.
If you find your images are coming out too dark, try opening the lens aperture to a lower number like f/ 4 to f/ 2.8, if possible, to let more light in. Alternately, you can raise the ISO but with the higher sensitivity comes grain and other noise in the image. If the moonlight is bright and your starting image is too light, then try reducing the ISO until you get an acceptably exposed image. It’s best to practice and become familiar with all of these settings before you head out at night to take pictures.
To catch the Milky Way, you want a night where the moon is not visible and where you are away from city lights. There are apps for smart phones that will help guide you to the best location to capture the Milky Way, as well as moonrise and sunrise in advance, so you can better plan where to take your photograph. One such smartphone app that does this well is called Photo Pills and is available for both Android and iPhones for a nominal one-time fee.
You can use a flashlight diffused with tissue paper to cast a soft light onto people to make a truly unique portrait of your family members under the stars while on vacation. You’ll only need to have the flashlight on for a second or two at the start of the exposure, then shut it off and make sure your subject doesn’t move until the end of the exposure.
So, before you put your camera away at the end of the day, try a photographic technique that may be new to you and make some photo memories to share that will be unique. People will be asking how you did that.
— Text & Photo: Mike Leonard. Mike is a night owl of sorts when it comes to photography. When he isn’t leading a photography cruise or doing a Photoshop class quite often after sunsets he can be found out collecting light of the moon and stars. Visit his website at phototourismbymike.com