Five Medicinal Maine-Grown Products

Five Medicinal Maine-Grown Products

Maine is lucky to host a unique and abundant assortment of delicious, nutritious plants and herbs. From season to season, it brings forth a variety of native vegetation that, in many cases, only requires a step outside into your own backyard or a trip to your local store to procure. Here is a list of five medicinal Maine-grown plants, herbs and vegetables that are easy to get or grow, and offer proven benefits to your health and wellbeing.

Wild Maine Blueberries. Photo: Mike Leonard1. Wild Blueberries

Maine’s official state fruit had to make the list! Research shows that wild blueberries (also called low-bush blueberries) are jam-packed (see what we did there?) with antioxidants and phytochemicals, particularly one called anthocyanin, which helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, death, and Type 2 diabetes. They also help maintain a healthy weight and reduce inflammation in the body. It’s widely agreed that the regular consumption of these “super fruits” is great for your health.

Where can you find wild blueberries? You guessed it. In the wild. These hardy, tiny blueberries thrive in challenging seasons and in glacier-churned soil. Most of Maine’s wild-blueberry harvesting is done by commercial operations, such as Wyman’s in Milbridge, but many farms, such as Alexander’s Wild Maine Blueberries in Greenfield or Beddington Ridge Farm in Beddington let you rake in your own during the peak season of July through September.

Maine potatoes.2. Potatoes

The potato is northern Maine’s primary agricultural product. According to Maine Potatoes, one medium-sized potato has only 100 calories and is made up of about 80 percent water. It also contains 45 percent of your daily recommended vitamin C and 21 percent of daily potassium. Potatoes are packed with antioxidants linked to reducing the risk of cancer, as well as vitamin B6 and fiber, which are found mainly in the potato’s skin.

If you’re looking for farm fresh potatoes, the Maine Potato Board has a long list of growers across Maine, including Davis Egg Farm in Newport, Green Thumb Farms in Fryeburg and Northeast Potato Distributors in Littleton. Trying to grow your own? You can pick up seeds and gardening tips at Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Winslow, ME.

Sassafras3. Sassafras

Sassafras is a native woodland tree that grows year-round and makes a fragrant and potent addition to your home garden. It smells a bit like root beer, cinnamon and citrus, so steep it in a killer cup of tea. Its reported health benefits include improved urinary tract health, circulation, digestion and immune health. It even reduces the symptoms of arthritis and gout. Where can you find this powerful and pungent herb? Sassafrass is indigenous primarily to southern Maine, but you can grow your own from freshly collected seeds. Learn more about how from the Wild Seed Project in Portland.

Shagbark Hickory4. Shagbark hickory

Shagbark hickory, a member of the walnut family, is found across southern Maine. It’s a shaggy looking tree with a dark charcoal bark that lives for upwards of 200-to-300 years, producing nuts with health benefits that include increased circulation, heart protection, a boost in metabolism, lowered cholesterol, improved digestion, and even bone growth from its dense supply of magnesium.

While locating shagbark hickory in the wild might require a trip to southern Maine, you can find their ripe nuts ready to pick in September, at a local farmer’s market, (a list of which can be found at mainefarmersmarkets.org) or by planting your own and watching a new tree grow. Learn more about how from the Wild Seed Project.

CBD Oil5. Locally Grown Hemp and CBD Oil

Maine is home to more than 2,000 acres of farmed hemp and 170 hemp growers. Cannabidiol, also known as CBD oil, is a chemical that’s extracted from the cannabis plant and used in a wide variety of ways, both topically (in creams) and through ingestion (edibles). CBD products sold in Maine must be made with locally grown hemp. Some of the benefits of CBD oil include pain relief, anxiety and depression reduction, nausea alleviation, acne treatment, a boost in heart health and even diabetes prevention.

Wondering where to get your hands on Maine-grown hemp or CBD oil? According to Best CBD oils in Maine.org., some of the top places to buy CBD oil in Maine include Not Another Glass Shop in Brunswick, Remedy Compassion Center in Auburn, Empire Vape Shop in Waterville and East Coast CBD in Unity.

We’re Wild About Maine’s Bounty

Whether it’s those tiny little blueberries packed with health-boosting nutrients or the shagbark hickory trees that stand to outlive us all, you don’t have to look very far to find foods and remedies to help you stay healthy and happy. With a little bit of research and the right grower, Maine makes it easy for you to experience nature’s bounty at its finest.

— Text: LeeMarie Kennedy. LeeMarie is a multi-niche copywriter, editor and content marketing creator in Boston, Massachusetts. When she’s not meticulously wordsmithing or brainstorming a trending topic, she can be found teaching yoga, wandering the world, drinking fair trade coffee or eating too much cheese.


Meditation & Healthy Weight

Meditation and Healthy Weight

As summer approaches most people want to improve themselves, starting with achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. In my ‘Weight Loss Journey’ workshop, the two ‘A’s that form the foundation of the program are: awareness and accountability.

AWARENESS

Let’s begin with awareness and the practice that is specifically designed to produce it. Meditation is the key that brings you into a “here-and-now” state of awareness, expressed in terms such as “mindfulness,” “being in the moment,” “in the flow” or “in the zone,” and so on.  If you engage in this practice, producing a state of meditative awareness, you are ready to achieve your healthy weight and maintain it in a new way.

To bring your “here and now” awareness out of your meditative practice and into your daily routine, start with your food intake. Begin by staying aware of your intake for one day. Use an index card, sheet of paper, tablet, journal, or a section of your planner or calendar to record everything you eat. Notice that I did not say to restrict yourself or deny yourself anything that you would normally eat. You can eat anything you want, as long as you write it down. The skill you are developing here is the accurate recording of your food intake.

ACCOUNTABILITY

The second ‘A’ is accountability, and refers to counting calories.  When people tell me they have a hard time losing weight, but don’t want to count calories, it’s understandable. But, the fact is, that whether or not you are counting, that number of calories translates to fat and weight gain, maintenance or loss. The ultimate goal here is to determine the number of calorie intake that is ideal for your age, weight and activity level, then go through an entire day without surpassing that number.

Be aware of everything you eatAfter your “Day One,” research an online calorie tracker or by the nutrition label what you have consumed. Then total the calories for your one-day count.  That’s it. You’re on your way! Now do it again the next day, and the next. After seven days, you’ll have a sense of the kinds of food you usually eat, and the amount and most importantly, the calories that come with each food choice. With your knowledge of your own personal eating patterns and which foods are the better choices, you will start making choices with fewer calories, yet are still satisfying. The more items you record, the easier the process becomes. This is the most effective method, since it works from your own personal food preferences.

Not every day will feel like a success. If you do succumb to an impulse, consider why. It might be a way to escape your present moment or to escape how you feel in the moment. Realize that this is the power that the item has over you. Think of an alternative to the food/drink that you consume. Your goal is to feel satisfied, to feel good, to feel safe or secure, to feel engaged, without that particular item.  Have your alternatives ready. For example, sometimes your stomach simply wants that full feeling, and you can drink a glass of cold water with a lemon wedge to fulfill that craving, rather than eating that sandwich at night. Or you can choose a filling low-calorie snack instead of one that you now know is high-calorie. Choose whatever alternatives work for you. Test your ability to stay aware (in the moment, etc.) when the urges occur, and your power to choose your alternative items will increase.  When you succeed and an impulse finally passes, you will feel that you have developed a new kind of power in your life.  And if you do succumb to a certain food, admit the power that the item had over you. Acknowledge how great the challenge actually is; and start again!

— Text: Anthony Rubbo


11th Annual EMMC Championthe Cure Challenge

11th Annual Champion the Cure Challenge

Champion the Cure Challenge is happening this year, but it’s virtual!

YOU Make The Challenge.
Take The Challenge in your own creative way and continue to help cancer patients and families. Learn more and register for this year’s Challenge at ctcchallenge.org, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook.

Here’s how you can participate – Find your own way to take The Challenge! Hike, bike, paddle, or a ride your favorite four-legged friend around the stable.

11th Annual EMMC Champion the Cure Challenge

Take photos or a brief video of your journey between now and August 1 and share it on Facebook with the hashtag #YouMakeTheChallenge (Email us at ctcchallenge@northernlight.org if you don’t use Facebook). We’ll share some of our favorites. (See additional guidelines and suggestions).

Join us for a special virtual celebration on Saturday, August 15!

We’ll share stories and videos from the virtual Challenge, see how The Challenge is helping patients and families, and kick off the 2021 Champion the Cure Challenge.

Patients and families affected by cancer need our support now more than ever, but that support can come in many ways. For 2020, participants can choose to pay the regular registration fee, or register at no cost. What’s most important is that we’re coming together to make a difference.


Your runs are all canceled, now what?

Your Races are all Canceled, Now What?

It all started with Boston. On March 13, the B.A.A. announced that the Boston Marathon would be postponed from its original date of April 16 to the fall. Just two weeks later, Western States Endurance Run canceled the 2020 event originally slated for late June. With those iconic races making adjustments, it was expected that other races would follow suit, and they did.

That rockin’ 2020 race schedule you planned out to keep you motivated during the winter is now completely shattered. Now what?

1. Run the spirit of the event. Just because there won’t be hundreds of people around, doesn’t mean you didn’t train hard and can’t still cross your own finish line. Map out that 13.1 mile loop around your part of town and have those two free beers waiting for you on your front porch when you finish. (That is why people sign up for those half marathons, right? Free beer?)

Some events are still on, just virtual this year. Mari Balow, from Grind Run Company reports “We put up a virtual challenge and had more runners complete a 55k in April than we could have imagined. They ran alone, for some, a distance much farther than they had ever attempted, for no medal or official stats. Astounding grit and determination!”

2. Prepare for next year. Many races that were canceled are offering refunds or free deferrals to their 2021 events. This definitely softens the blow of the canceled event, knowing you’ll be at the starting line next year and allowing you to rebuild your race schedule.

“The Grind Run Company is likely to cancel our two premier 2020 events, but we are offering deferments to registered runners. Our goal is to come back even stronger in 2021.” says Balow.

3.Relax. Yes, you put in a ton of work leading up to your event. Yes, it is frustrating to see your “A” race get delayed a full year. However, it is something we are all going through together. It is more important than ever to take a deep breath and relax. This is all new and we are all figuring it out together. Take this time to run for yourself.

At first, I was pretty bummed out that both my 100-mile races were postponed until next year. I had spent hours over the winter in harsh conditions romping around trails by myself to prepare for these events. When I received the news that these events were not going to be held this year, it felt like all my training was for naught. I eventually pulled myself out of that rut and refocused that energy and effort into a few running projects involving the Eastern Trail. The purpose of these projects is to give me the motivation and opportunity to push myself on those now canceled race dates. So while I may not be seeing any of you at a starting line anytime soon, give me a wave on the trail.

— Text & Photo: Todd Reutlinger is a local ultra and trail runner.  When he isn’t running, you can find him shipping shoes and fitting feet at Fleet Feet Maine Running.


The Seasonal Runner: Leaping into Spring & Summer

The sweetness of that very first spring-like run of the season is intoxicating. Runners shed their winter layers and emerge from their treadmill lairs to drink in the warm, earthy air. The roads and trails are clear, days grow longer, and plant life gives birth to new leaves and buds. We, too, are innately connected to this pattern of growth and renewal. Suddenly, a motivation that was once dormant, breaks through. There is a palpable energy in the air, and that is especially apparent to anyone with a running mindset.

The turn of the warmer weather is often met with a zeal and eagerness to train harder, achieve that PR, or even to lace up a pair of running shoes for the very first time.  Ideally, we are taking cues from nature, and honoring these natural cycles; not overdoing it to risk injury and burnout, and training in ways that improve our performance, while allowing for sustainability and continued enjoyment in the sport of running. Here are a few points to keep in mind as we enter this exciting time of year.

GOAL SETTING
Think about what you want to achieve.  Do you want to commit to running more days per week? Do you want to go longer or faster, or snag a race PR?  Goals should have personal meaning, rather than meeting someone else’s expectations. By being specific and realistic, you will be in a better position to commit to the work required to meet whatever goal you set.

YOGA
Yoga poses work the body in ways that can bring tremendous physical, energetic and mental benefits. Let your yoga practice work with your training, and not in opposition. On high mileage or active days, give in to a restful practice; and on lighter days, you can allow your yoga to focus more on strength and movement. The following short sequences highlight three poses for each purpose.  Add them to your routine to create more balance and see how you feel.

YANG / DYNAMIC

CHAIR POSE
With the feet together or hip width, draw the hips back and down like you’re reaching for a chair. Let the weight be heavy in the heels and light on the toes. Feel the outer hips compacting as the torso lifts off the thighs and the chest is upright. Keep the hands at the hips or raise the arms as shown.

HIGH LUNGE
From Chair Pose, pour the weight on the right leg as you lift the left foot and draw it back behind you, so you land in a lunge.  Through that transition, keep the outer right hip exactly as you had it in Chair Pose.  In the High Lunge, you may experiment with a bent or straight back leg as you keep a tall spine and even explore a subtle backbend.

WARRIOR 3
From High Lunge, shift the upper body forward and bear the weight in the front leg, again keeping the right hip pinned in and drawing back, which engages the glute and hamstring.  As you lean forward, keeping the chest searching forward, and spine long, lift the back leg. Work to keep the hips level – right and left hip bones facing the floor evenly.  Keep the back leg lifted by engaging the quadricep and drawing the inner line of the leg toward the ceiling. Step to Chair Pose, and then to a standing position.

Flow through these three poses, alternating from right to left.  Experiment with holding for 3-5 breaths in each pose, and then moving dynamically, holding for 1 breath per pose, and performing 5-10 times on each side.

YIN / PASSIVE

SPHINX
Place the elbows under the shoulders, keeping the legs relaxed. Head may be kept in a neutral position, fall forward, or rest on a block.

BUTTERFLY
From a seated position, draw the soles of the feet together, allowing the knees to go wide. Let the feet be further away from the hips, and incline the body forward.

CAT TAIL
Lie on your right side, supporting your head in your hand. Draw your left leg up, like you’re hanging out reading a magazine. Reach behind you with your left hand and catch ahold of your right foot, targeting the quadricep of the back leg. Stay on your side, or roll back (as shown in the photo), to invite a twist to the spine.

Hold each pose with the muscles fully relaxed, allowing the body to become heavy. Go only to the point where you feel a mild amount of sensation – nothing sharp or painful. Set a timer and hold each posture for 3-5 minutes.

6 Yoga Poses for Runners

—Photos: Yang: Terry Cockburn, Yin: Cindy Giovagnoli

Terry Cockburn has been teaching yoga since 2006 and owns Freeport Yoga Company (Freeport, Maine) and Yarmouth Yoga Studio (Yarmouth, Maine).  A marathon runner, mother to two boys (and one yellow dog), business owner and outdoor adventure seeker, she balances an active yang lifestyle with time on the meditation cushion and a contemplative yin practice.  Terry teaches classes, workshops and retreats and has a passion for working with the athletic population.  Check out her upcoming offerings at www.freeportyogaco.com.


Trek Across Maine 2020

Trek Across Maine Shifts Gears in 2020

For the first time in history, The Trek will be a 100% virtual event!

The announcement was made recently by the American Lung Association. Out of an abundance of caution and to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Association has adjusted plans for the 2020 Trek Across Maine. There will be no physical event on June 19 – 21, but instead, Trekkers can participate in a virtual Trek Across Maine from now through June 30th. 

While the decision was made to protect the safety of participants, volunteers, and staff, organizers are hoping the new virtual experience will encourage more participation from new and past Trekkers from around the country. There has already been a spike in registrations and many more are anticipated to register since a portion of the funds raised by the Trek Across Maine will support COVID-19 research.

Trek Across Maine 2020 - American Lung AssociationHERE’S HOW YOU CAN PARTICIPATE IN THE VIRTUAL TREK:

The virtual Trek Across Maine encourages Trekkers to stay active and enjoy time on their bike (practicing safe social distancing) while supporting the work of the American Lung Association. Completing mileage is not a requirement to participate.

Share your photos and videos of your progress on social media using the hashtags #TrekMe and #Cyclingtogether. You can use activity tracking devices (Apple Watch, Fitbit, Garmin devices, etc.) or join our Trek Across Maine Strava Club to see where you rank on the leaderboard each week with other participants as you ride!

Register at trekacrossmaine.org before June 30, as a virtual participant for just $15.

Participants can ask family or friends to donate to the fundraiser to raise $250 (the fundraising minimum has been adjusted this year to be sensitive to these challenging times). By meeting the fundraising minimum, the participant will receive a commemorative 2020 Trek t-shirt, accomplishment medal, and rider bib.

For more detailed information on the virtual event, including additional incentive levels (including the prestigious Winner’s Circle jersey), ways to stay connected and how to communicate with your donors, visit trekacrossmaine.org

EVERY MILE COUNTS

Since 1985, the Trek has raised more than $29 million for the American Lung Association. Funds from the event will go to support programs like research to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and help save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. 

Recently, American Lung Association researcher, Dr. John Schoggins, Ph.D., was credited with identifying a naturally occurring protein that has been shown to inhibit coronavirus infection. It was announced in April that the American Lung Association is launching a $25M initiative to end COVID-19 and defend against future respiratory virus pandemics.

You can also make a general donation to support the event or someone you know who is participating by visiting TrekAcrossMaine.org.


Running Gear Trends for 2020

What’s New in Running Gear

RaceME sat down with John Rogers, owner of Fleet Feet Sports Maine Running and Erin Flatley, Marketing and Social Media Manager, to learn about trends we can expect to see in running gear this year.

Starting with shoe trends, companies are leaning toward lighter weight and more cushioning in their designs. Here are a few of the latest shoes that showcase this new technology:

The Hyperion Elite (pictured above) is the fastest racing shoe from Brooks that’s built around a unique carbon-fiber plate, and like the other carbon-fiber-plated shoes, this plate provides a more propulsive feel and quicker transition. Brooks engineered their plate with a specialized spine that runs down the middle to help resist bending and improve support.

Packed around the plate, Brooks used an ultra-lightweight foam called DNA Zero. The feathery new DNA Zero foam is lighter and softer than Brooks’ standard BioMoGo DNA, which reduces the strain on your muscles and, in turn, holds off fatigue as long as possible. Retail $250

HOKA Carbon XHOKA’s Carbon X shoe is an everyday trainer disguised as a racing flat. Built with a carbon-fiber plate smooshed between layers of foam, the Carbon X delivers an ultra-smooth and fast-feeling ride. Retail $180

If you’re looking for a versatile running shoe to take you from training to race day, the HOKA Carbon X is a good choice. The Profly X foam is HOKA’s lightest and most resilient yet, and the wide base makes it stable for many miles.

“Personalized shoes and orthotics are becoming more available,” Rogers said. “We will see personalized orthotics turned around for customers in about a week. As shoe innovations continue to be aided by the latest technology in 3D imaging and scanning tools, we will see more ‘real-time’ details for measuring gait characteristics from ‘heel strike’ to ‘toe off.’ ”

Nike's Air Zoom Alphafly Next%Nike’s latest marathon running shoe, the Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%, has a carbon-fiber plate, and gets a boost from Air as well. Nestled into the bulbous ZoomX foam midsole is a pair of Zoom Air Pods. Working with extremely responsive foam, Nike’s Air Pods add another level of cushioning and energy return to help runners conserve every precious ounce of effort. Retail TBA

A single, full-length carbon-fiber plate provides stability on top of a big stack of foam, while also increasing the shoe’s stiffness, creating a smooth transition and adding a sensation of propulsion.

Karhu Fusion OrtixFleet Feet and Karhu Collaboration
The new Karhu Fusion Ortix is better than ever. Shaped by scans and built to run, the Karhu Fusion produces a comfortable, reliable ride. Built with the help of more than 100,000 3D foot scans taken through Fleet Feet’s Fit Id outfitting process, the scans help ensure the best possible fit and to be able to run in comfort.

Redesigned with a sublimated engineered upper, the Fusion provides a seamless feel and secure fit without losing the stable landing and forward momentum of the previous model.

Underneath, the Fusion uses Karhu’s proprietary Aero Foam cushioning. The foam offers a lighter, cushier feeling than typical EVA, and it’s more resistant to temperature changes.

Embedded into the midsole is Karhu’s signature fulcrum technology. The Fusion has a three-fourths-length fulcrum that increases support in the middle and promotes a forward rolling effect.
Retail $140

RUNNING ACCESSORIES

TriggerPoint Impavt Handheld Percussion Massage Gun According to Flatley, the TriggerPoint Impact Handheld Percussion Massage Gun is becoming more popular in the area of runner recovery. “Almost everyone says they need one after trying it,” she said.

This four-speed muscle massage gun delivers targeted pressure to help increase blood flow, hydrate muscle tissue, and improve range of motion pre- and post-workout. It features an angled handle with a top-weighted design that provides comfort and ease of use, and allows for better control and dexterity. Other features include:

  • A universal massage head optimized for use on multiple muscle groups
  • A quiet, brushless four-speed motor that runs efficiently with a rechargeable battery that supplies more than two hours of continuous massage.
  • A lightweight and travel-friendly size measuring 10.3 x 7. 5 x 2 inches and a weight of 2.4 pounds for $199.00

RUNNERS REHAB

As for the most common ailment they see in the store? That would be Plantar Fasciitis, which is an inflammation of a thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. There are several ways to help relieve this common foot pain.

Orthotics, either custom-made or manufactured. Fleet Feet Maine Running stores carry SUPERfeet insoles that offer arch support for various arches. This support, plus the fresh cushion in shoes definitely helps ease the pain.

Wheel rollers for the bottom of foot and various self massagers and foam rollers to massage out calves, shins and lower leg

Specialty compression socks that have more compression in the arch that are found to help in many cases.

Speaking of compression, compression sleeves for legs are becoming popular amongst runners to alleviate calf and lower leg pain by bringing more blood flow to the area. “Some people really like the compression sleeve and they are becoming more recommended for active exercise across many sports,” said Flatley. There are also full compression socks to prevent blood pooling while you are not exercising. A full compression sock can worn most anytime. Marathon runners are at an increased risk of a blood clot when traveling long distances.

TRENDS IN RUNNER SAFETY

Natan Saferrun Ripcord Siren Personal AlarmThere are several products out now designed just for the runner market. The Nathan SaferRun Ripcord Siren Personal Alarm was named Time Magazine’s Best Invention in 2019. This tiny device blasts sound at 120 dB and can be heard up to 600 feet away. The alarm system acts as a deterrent and can also alert others in case of an incident. Additionally, the Ripcord Siren can be used multiple times. Cost: $20

Pair this mighty alarm with the latest in reflective gear, light up vest and bright clothing along with other deterrents (like pepper spray) you can run confidently and with peace of mind.

 

PRO TIPS TO EXTEND THE LIFE OF YOUR SHOES

ProTips: Extend the Life of Your Running Shoes

Photo by Kevin Morris

1. Only wear the running shoes when running.

“Mileage is mileage, and even just standing, due to the compression, will take its toll,” said Joey Michaud, Fleet Feet Maine Running stores’ Retail Experience Manager, who then provided a great analogy “It’s similar to how carbonated beverages lose fizz over time and go flat. It’s the same with the composites that make up the encapsulated air inside the shoe material. With every step, you are compressing that material down further and further.”

2. Alternate with another shoe.

Around halfway through the life of your main running shoe, begin alternating, and and slowly incorporate it in. This allows your main shoes longer time to recover between runs, which allow them to maintain their structural integrity for longer.

3. Do not wash your shoes in a washing machine.

Instead, use a sponge and a toothbrush with soap and water. If you do get your shoes soaking wet on a run, take the laces and inserts out and let all parts dry completely.


4 ways to infues mindful moments into your workday

4 Ways to Infuse Mindful Moments Into Your At-Home Workday

In the age of instant access to technological tools and communication channels, some of today’s employers are finding it even easier to heap on the expectations. Working longer hours, being online at odd times and a list of to-dos can make it tough to slow down.

The good news? You can still accomplish plenty of work without letting stress get the best of you with small, simple moments of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on the present moment while calmly assessing your thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations.

According to Nancy Hathaway, Maine native, founder of the Center for Studying Mindfulness, “The key is to experience feelings as body sensations; rather than going to the gerbil cage of over-thinking. When you are at work, take a mindful walking break to the water cooler or bathroom, or get yourself outside.”

Your job is likely a crucial part of your life. It might be your lifelong passion, your primary source of income, a way to help your community, and the place where you spend the most time. To help you use that time wisely, here’s a list of four ways to break up your workday with mindful moments:

1. Create a Mindful Eating Experience

According to Harvard Health, mindful eating “includes noticing the colors, smells, flavors, and textures of your food; chewing slowly; getting rid of distractions like TV or reading; and learning to cope with guilt and anxiety about food.” Basically, it’s taking a real break and allowing you to focus on the act of eating without distraction.

Why is this helpful in combating stress and cultivating ease? Research shows that focusing on your food, feeling its weight, examining its surface, smelling it, noticing how it makes you feel and closing your eyes to savor it fully can help you practice non-judgment, patience, non-striving, acceptance and trust. All of these are essential for kickstarting feel-good hormones such as dopamine and reducing stress hormones such as cortisol. So next time you need a time-out, grab a piece of fruit and take those measured steps to ensure eating it is a full mind- body experience.

2. Practice Mindful Movement

Mindful movement is a way to take a break, listen to your body and engage in physical activity that feels fluid, unforced and natural. Focus on noticing your body in movement and controlling the pace of breath. Some of the most common types of mindful movement include yoga, pilates and tai chi, but the simple act of going for a walk or stretching in your office can give you the same stress-relieving benefits.

One easy tactic: find a private space to practice an inversion, also known as “Legs Up the Wall Pose” in yoga. By getting your feet above your heart, you can boost your circulation and counter the results of all the sitting that occurs in day-to-day office life.

3. Sprinkle in Some Meditation

Just 10 to 20 minutes of meditation per day has been proven to increase focus, positivity and productivity, decrease stress, streamline communication skills and even build stronger relationships. These are all essential components of a happy, productive work life.

Meditation doesn’t have to be complex or intimidating. It can be the simple act of taking a comfortable seat, closing your eyes, and taking deep, measured breaths. You can even adopt a mantra, or phrase you repeat in your mind, such as: “I breathe in. I breathe out.” Use technological tools to your advantage by downloading one of the many meditation apps available online.

4. Get Outside

Spending 15-to-30 minutes outdoors is proven to improve relaxation and enthusiasm as well as eliminate nervousness. Research from Harvard Medical School suggests mood disorders can be lifted by spending more time outdoors. The visual aspects of taking in nature’s beauty, even if it’s a budding tree right outside your office, according to the same research, help distract the mind from negative thinking.

Since Maine has the luxury of being one of the most majestic places to experience nature at its finest, take that break and take advantage! You might enjoy a quick bike ride, see the scenic coast, strike an outdoor yoga pose or even take a half- or full-day rock climbing tour.

There’s no reason for your workday to ever be a drag. By engaging in mindful activities that work for you, whether it’s being outside, in your office, at a local cafe or on a journey inward, carving out the time to put yourself first and live in the now can help every day feel like the weekend. .

— Text: LeeMarie Kennedy. LeeMarie is a multi-niche copywriter, editor and content marketing creator in Boston, Massachusetts. When she’s not meticulously wordsmithing or brainstorming a trending topic, she can be found teaching yoga, wandering the world, drinking fair trade coffee or eating too much cheese.

 


Avtitiy Maine's tips for staying calm, strong, and healthy while distancing ourselves socially

Staying Calm, Strong and Healthy During Social Distancing

With the levels of stress so high right now, self care is very important! There are many things you can do from home to get exercise and relieve stress. Try biking, walking/running outside, hiking in the woods, eating nutritious food and hydrating well. Take care of your mind and stress levels by getting good sleep, meditation, yoga, journaling, and deep breathing exercises. Catch up with your family and friends on the phone or video chat.

Biking in Aroostook County. Photo: John Hafford.

Photo: John Hafford

Good sleep is critical.

Recent studies show that sleep may be your best ally for staying healthy, so here are some basic tips for getting better sleep. Light to moderate exercise during the day or morning helps most people sleep better at night. Unwind 1 to 2 hours before bed, which means no digital devices or screens. Take a shower or bath to relax and keep your room cool and dark. Before bed, think thoughts of gratitude — what you are thankful for — and then shut out the world. Focus on what you notice going on in your body first, then once you scan your body systems, focus on your breath. Notice its sensations getting lighter, and then drift off to sleep.

Boost your levels of Vitamin D.

Next, we recommend, if you are able to go outside, that you get 20 or more minutes of direct sunlight at a time. Vitamin D that is produced from sunlight being absorbed by your exposed skin is a huge immune and mood booster. If you can’t get outside, find a sunlit part of a room and soak in the warmth of the sun on your exposed skin. Although sunlight through windows is not as powerful, it still has a healing and relaxing effect, and you can safely stay in it for longer periods.

Give your mind a rest.

Break away from the news and social media. While it is very important to stay informed on a daily basis with the rapid changes going on, it is also important not to be glued to it. There is a limit to what your mind can take and you need to be mindful of the toll that sedentary preoccupation with constant watching of devices has on your body and mood. Check updates in the morning and evening, and take notice of any special announcements for your state or areas when they are released.

For those of you home with the kids for the next two weeks, here is a link for 15 Fun And Easy Family Activities That You Can Do At Home:

https://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/15-fun-and-easy-family-activities-that-you-can-home.html

We look forward to the day when we can start to transition from “Social Distancing” and we can release our event recommendations with low or no risk of virus transmission. Stay safe and healthy everyone!

— The Crew at Activity Maine


Midcoast hiking

Take a Midcoast Hike

Midcoast region

Photo: Elizabeth Berry MacKenney

Maine is known for great hiking, and many enthusiasts flock to Katahdin and the Camden Hills. But there are some beautiful, lesser-known trails in the midcoast region. Lincoln county, for example, has some beautiful, easy trails that are open year-round — for free. When visiting Boothbay, Damariscotta, or Pemaquid, be sure to check out some of the trails there for gorgeous views and close encounters with flora and fauna.

Boothbay Region Land Trust

From easy to challenging, the Boothbay Region Land Trust has over 30 miles of trails all over the Boothbay Peninsula, and they even maintain trails on Damariscove and Indiantown Islands. Guided walks are often available year-round. A schedule of upcoming events can be found on the BRLT website, which also has maps and a trail guide. Cost: Free. www.bbrlt.org

Damariscotta River Association

Up the road a bit from Boothbay Harbor is Damariscotta. Winding down the peninsula from Damariscotta to South Bristol is the beautiful Damariscotta River. All along the river, you can find trails of various levels of difficulty, maintained by the Damariscotta River Association. If you have small children interested in taking a hike, and easy one to try is located at the River Association’s farm on the Belvedere Road in Damariscotta. The Dodge Point preserve and hiking area located on the River Road in Newcastle is very popular with both locals and visitors to the area. The website for the Damariscotta River Association contains a map of all their preserves and hiking areas. Cost: Free. www.damariscottariver.org

Midcoast region

Photo: Activity Maine

Pemaquid Water Association

If you’re taking a drive to Pemaquid to see the beautiful Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, consider taking a quick hike on one of the many trails maintained by the Pemaquid Water Association. Eight preserves and five hiking trails along the Pemaquid River, from Nobleboro to Bristol, are maintained by the PWA. Detailed maps and descriptions of each hiking trail are avilable on the PWA website. Cost: Free.

Check out one, or all of the trails at these great locations. Each offers a unique view of the astounding natural beauty around Lincoln County. If you would like to bring a dog to any of the areas listed, check the websites first. Most allow canine companions, but it is recommended to keep your dog on a leash. And please clean up after your pet! www.pemaquidwatershed.org

— Text: Kate Kastelein


Alex Ribar demonstrates how to grip a tomahawk. Photo courtesy Michael Eric Berube

The Art & History of the Tomahawk

What is a tomahawk? Is it a functional tool, a weapon; or a historical art piece? If you ask me it’s all of the above.

The tomahawk, a single-handed axe that traditionally resembles a hatchet, is an iconic weapon that was first developed by the Alogonquin Native Americans.  The word tomahawk was derived from the Alogonquin word “Tomahak” or “Tomahakan,” meaning “used for cutting.”

The Native Americans made tomahawks with stone heads attached to wooden handles, secured with rawhide and sinew.  It was a general-purpose tool used for chopping, cutting, and even used as a weapon.

Four hundred years ago, the Europeans introduced metal blades as an alternative to the tomahawk’s primitive stone blade or deer antler.  Settlers, American soldiers and Native American tribes quickly integrated the use of metal into the design of the tomahawk from that point forward. During the Revolutionary War in the late 18th century, the Continental Congress required all military men to carry either a tomahawk or a cutting sword. Tomahawks have even been used during World War II, The Korean War, and in Vietnam. You can even find it being used by the armed forces of today as well.

How to throw a tomahawk

Photo: Michael Eric Berube

The tomahawk grew in popularity among the Native Indians, frontiersmen, trappers and European settlers. The meaning of the tomahawk grew beyond its use as a tool or a weapon.  It became an integral part of everyday society; signifying status among peers, including friends and foes.  It was even used and given as a diplomatic gift.

The tomahawk came to symbolize both war and peace. If a red-painted tomahawk were placed in front of the chief during a war council, the war chief would deliberate and raise it to rouse the warriors to declare war. However, if the tomahawk were buried, that symbolized peace—giving rise to the phrase— “burying the hatchet.”

A peace pipe could also be incorporated into the design of a tomahawk with a hollow handle and a type of bowl forged into the head.  Some were very ornate used for ceremonial and tribal meetings or during treaty signings. Any way you chop it, the tomahawk has an important place in history.

Today, the tomahawk continues to be a functional work of art, made with drop forged, differentially heat-treated, alloy steel. The handles can be custom engraved, decorated and sold as art pieces.

HOW TO THROW A TOMAHAWK

Move over darts, the art of throwing sharp objects has a new competitor.

All across the country, tomahawk and axe-throwing has become a big attraction at local establishments, outdoor venues, fairs, brew pubs and other events.

Now I’m not big on throwing axes, but throwing a HAWK; that’s more my style. The tomahawk is the easiest weapon to master. Young and old can learn the art of throwing with some instruction and a little practice.

Alex Ribar

The target

First you will need a target. A 4×6-inch thick cut from a piece of large pine or cedar log that is about 18-24 inches in diameter is commonly used. You can either make a stand to hold it up about five feet off the ground, or hang it from ropes with eye hooks. You can also build a frame and use pine boards for your target.

The throw

To begin, start at five paces from the target. Hold the tomahawk at the base of the handle. (Do not choke up on the handle.) The tomahawk should be held firmly, but not too hard. Bring the tomahawk straight back over your shoulder, and step forward as you throw it at your target as though you are throwing a baseball. The tomahawk should only rotate once at this distance. You may need to move half a step forward or backward to get the tomahawk to stick to the target. Once you get it to stick consistently, staple a paper plate to your target. Keep practicing until you can get the tomahawk to stick to the paper plate on every throw. Then, move back about nine to ten paces. The tomahawk should rotate twice at this distance as you get better at throwing.

Before you know it, you will master the art of tomahawk throwing. Most anyone can do this; it’s loads of fun and sure to please your primitive side!

Here at Liberty Rogue Outdoors, the tomahawk has always been a part of our outdoor events, bush craft outings, classes and survival kits. I enjoy teaching others how to throw tomahawks and also compete in throwing competitions. We also produce custom tomahawks with hand-forged heads and custom-engraved hickory handles. Each one is a functional work of art. If you’re interested in a custom tomahawk, please contact Liberty Rogue Outdoors at pridesmen@yahoo.com

Last thing: “If you bury the hatchet” or in this case the HAWK, don’t leave the handle sticking out –just in case you or the other party changes his mind! (Just kidding!)

— Alex “TheRogue’stah”Ribar, reminding you to get outside, find yourself a hobby and remember, it’s all about attitude; the right one! Liberty Rogue Outdoors; History Channel’s Alone, Season 4 contestant; Marine and professional survival instructor.


Salt Pump Climbing Gym

Extreme Indoors

Want to get your kicks year round without the risk of frostbite? Stay social this winter with Portland’s best indoor activities. 

If you love the high-octane activity of summer in Maine, don’t lose your momentum over the colder months. These three Portland locales host communities of indoor thrill-seekers who find their adrenaline fix within four walls.

Salt Pump Climbing Gym

Salt Pump Climbing Gym

A 13,000 sq.ft. Climbing Gym in Scarborough. Photo: Salt Pump Climbing Gym

“Climbing is all about continual education,” said Freddie Wilkinson, co-founder of Salt Pump Climbing Gym in Scarborough. Think you lost the ability to scale anything significant in the third grade? Wilkinson believes the innate ability can be reestablished with a little practice. “Every week we see people surprise themselves by being complete natural climbers,” said Wilkinson. “It’s a fun process to rediscover.” All it takes “is a little flexibility of body and mind and perseverance.”

The 13,000-square-foot climbing gym launched in 2015 with a mission to bring the authentic athletic experience of outdoor climbing to the city, featuring top-rope, lead climbing, and bouldering on walls up to 45 feet high. With 100 new bouldering sequences and new routes set each week, there’s plenty of “continual education” to enjoy, whether you’re tackling green circle or double black diamond climbs. “By nature it’s a sociable sport,” said Wilkinson. “You typically work in pairs, and everyone spends time on the mats discussing route or techniques.” Salt Pump holds daily Intro to Climbing classes, ($40/2 hours) as well as ongoing coaching and outdoor technique training sessions, so no matter what level you’re at, you can keep climbing higher.

Salt Pump Climbing Gym
36 Haigis Pkwy
Scarborough, ME 04074
(207) 219-8145
www.saltpumpclimbing.com

Urban Air, South Portland, Maine

Photo courtesy of Urban Air

Urban Air

If you’re suffering cabin fever this winter, there are worse ways to unleash some energy than at a venue of “wall-to-wall trampolines.” Urban Air in South Portland has just that, plus foam pits, trampoline dodgeball and basketball courts, an obstacle course, and an enormous air mattress known as “The Drop Zone.” The amusement park is family-friendly, featuring a jungle gym and plenty of soft landings for the little ones as well as endless opportunities for older kids, including Friday night middle school socials from 8-11 p.m. Adults don’t have to sit on the sidelines either.

“We welcomed an 83-year-old grandfather onto the trampolines last year,” said Event Coordinator Will Kriger. “He had a great time!”

Trampolining is a serious workout. Challenge friends to a game of bounce basketball and you’re guaranteed to go harder and higher than at any regular gym.

Urban Air
333 Clarks Pond Pkwy
South Portland, ME 04106
(207) 543-4231
www.urbanairtrampolinepark.com

The Axe Pit, South Portland Maine

Learning throwing techniques at The Axe Pit

The Axe Pit

The Axe Pit, recently relaunched in South Portland, offers people the chance to sharpen their lumberjack credentials this winter. The expanded 2,000-square-foot venue features six “throwing lanes,” each with two targets, to accommodate more than 60 adventurous patrons. Lanes cost $15/hour for a group or individual session. After your initial safety brief, a seasoned instructor will demonstrate throwing techniques, before unleashing you on the targets.

“We offer a selection of tomahawks, hatchets, and even full-sized axes for the intrepid thrower,” said General Manager Connor Winn. “Guests can play cornhole-style, recreate cricket darts, or just throw for fun.” Think of it as high-stakes bowling. Owner Tim Johnson discovered urban axe throwing at an underground venue in Montreal and couldn’t wait to bring it home. “It’s not a big mental leap to imagine how this would fit so well in Maine,” said Winn. The venue’s tagline reads “Social Axe Throwing” and Johnson hopes to offer on-site food and beverages in the near future. If you’re able to relax around flying blades, you’ve found the ideal balance of thrills and chill.

The AxePit
333 Clarks Pond Pkwy
South Portland, ME 04106
(207) 370-4298

www.theaxepit.com

— 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.


Four Places to Ski or Shoe at Night

Skiing at Dusk

SKIING AT DUSK. Photo courtesy Nordic Heritage Center.

With winters in Aroostook County lasting from November to April, the best way to endure long nights is to get outside for an endorphin rush, fresh air, and stargazing. Fortunately four community-based, Aroostook County venues offer nighttime cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.  Three of these family-friendly spots boast day lodges with fireplaces. All offer bathrooms, and are all groomed for classical and skate-style skiing.  Up here, getting social in the winter means organized potlucks, snowshoe poker runs, and full-moon events. Perhaps unique to the Aroostook small-town way of life, all are volunteer-managed, and supported by donors, memberships, events, and trail fees. Pack your puffy jacket, headlamp, and toe warmers for an invigorating small-town experience under the stars.

Nordic Heritage Center

Photo courtesy Nordic Heritage Center

Crisp, dry air seeps around the edges of my buff, the only sound, the click of bindings. Though the sky is peppered with millions of stars, we don’t linger at Red Barn trailhead. The amber glow from a nearby residence warms the landscape as temps hover in the low teens. We warm up by climbing the Volunteer Way trail before descending to the less populated outer settlements in search of even darker skies. Snowshoe hares slip past on the periphery. After an effortless four kilometers of sheltering forests, we make a hard right breaking out into the bright full moonlight of Spike’s Field. We douse our headlamps and race around the loop. Besides the Dippers and Orion, we pick out the constellation Cassiopeia, along with countless sapphires and diamonds in pollution-free skies.  After three dizzying laps, we continue on the main trail, reabsorbed by ebony statues of spruce and fir. Perhaps the new moon will allow glimpses of emerald aurora.

 

 

Fort Kent Outdoor Center

Fort Kent Outdoor Center, managed by Pineland Farms, was launched 20 years ago as a biathlon venue connecting pre-existing high school competition trails to community trails. Goodwill agreements with several landowners have allowed continued public access to 25 kilometers of groomed ski trails, and 10k of interwoven snowshoe trails. The steep, technical high school ski trails beginning at the community downhill ski area, Lonesome Pine, are best enjoyed during daylight hours, but it’s hard to beat seeing the moonrise at 10th Mountain Lodge, or the pastoral view from Grand Outlook.

Beginners and classic purists will appreciate the gentler Violette Settlement trails accessible three miles west of town on Violette settlement Road or at Red Barn Parking area on Village Road, a portion of which was described in the journal entry above.

Nordic Heritage Sport Club

Nighttime family tubing fun at Four Seasons Trails Assoc.

Photo courtesy Four Seasons Trails

Nordic Heritage Sport Club, also managed by Pineland, was constructed a couple years later as a cross-country ski and biathlon venue. It’s also adjacent to a small, community downhill area, Quoggy Jo. Unlike Fort Kent, all of these trails are on the club’s land. Trails are open from dusk to dawn year-round with 2.5 kilometers of ski trails lit from 4 – 8 p.m.  The lodge is accessible via the basement 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.  Located at the top of a hardwood covered flatiron-shaped parcel five miles from city lights, this could be your best bet to catch the Aurora Borealis in winter. Family-oriented stargazing events have been added to the club’s repertoire. Two lean-to shelters with outdoor cook stoves invite folks to trek over the hill to the “Fort Fairfield” side bearing thermoses of hot chocolate and fixings for s’mores. For an easy snowshoe hike, park at the entrance on Route 167, where the birch-lined path parallels the access road. Be advised, it’s the only place on the property where you can bring your pooch.

 

Photo courtesy Four Seasons Trails Assoc.

Northern Skiers Club

If it’s flat or beginner terrain you seek, head to Caribou. Northern Skiers Club offers six km ski trails, of which three km trails are lit for night skiing and approximately 3.5 – 4km trails are for snowshoeing. The best part? The trails are free. The sledding hill is also popular with families; just bring your own sled. Both the trails and building were built by the club and donated to Caribou High School. Trail lights are on until 8 p.m. when the building closes.

Four Seasons Trails Association

Four Season’s Trail Association in Madawaska is supported entirely by user and community donations. It offers 14 km of skate and classic skiing, 3km of classic-only tracks, 12 km of snowshoe paths, a kids’ terrain park, and sledding hill. All trails start from the lodge on Spring Street. Just this fall, 1.4 km of the main trail was lit for night skiing. Club President, Colin Jandreau, is enthusiastic about the addition. “Many of the lights are situated where the snowshoe trail crosses the ski trail to provide good visibility in higher traffic areas,” he said. “The button to turn on the lights is located on the timing hut in the stadium right in front of the lodge. Lights will remain on for 45 minutes, and can be reset for another 45 minutes.  Most of our users will complete a loop in that amount of time. We recommend that people bring a headlamp anyway.”

There’s no reason to hibernate every night in winter. Grab your constellation app, charge your cell phone battery, and visit Aroostook County this winter – where you’ll revel in the cold, fresh air and our unparalleled night skies. As always it’s a good idea to check for updates on hours of operation, events in progress, and trail conditions.

— Text: Sherry Dubis. Sherry is a native Mainer, teacher, and outdoor enthusiast. She is the token female and pacer in the unsanctioned County Boneheads Ski Team.


Fat Biking in Northerm and Western Maine

Fat Biking in Northern and Western Maine

Looking for a way to make the most of your Maine winter?

Fat biking is fast becoming the most fun you can have on two wheels. It’s a sport that is as exciting for beginners as it is for seasoned mountain biking aficionados. With more and more outfitters renting equipment around the state, it’s easier now than ever to give fat biking a try.

Fat biking is a lot like mountain biking; the difference is the size of the tires. An average width of a mountain bike tire is 2.8 to 3 inches. An average fat bike tire is 4 to 4.8 inches. The bigger tires make it easier for fat bikes to traverse the snow and ice on winter trails.

“I love that fat biking is a totally different sport from Nordic skiing, but people are still having equal amounts of fun on the snow,” said Sarah Weafer, Events and Marketing Director for Mahoosuc Pathways.

Mainers know how to have fun when the snow flies, and there are excellent trails that are specifically groomed for fat biking. Read on to start planning your winter fat bike adventure…

Bethel Village Trails

Bethel Inn Resort
21 Broad Street, Bethel
207-824-6276 (winter only)
www.mahoosucpathways.org/Bethel-Village

While there has been fat biking in the Bethel region for about six years, Mahoosuc Pathways gave the sport a shot of adrenaline when they created the Bethel Village Trails in 2016. These trails are specifically groomed for fat bikes during the winter.

Fat bikers need to purchase either a day pass ($13) or a season pass ($55-$65) to ride. “We sold close to 400 day trail passes last season for fat biking,” Weafer said.

Bikes can be rented from Barker Mountain Bikes at the Bethel Village Trails headquarters. “Many fat bike lovers also enjoy a good craft beer after their ride,” Weafer said. “We’re fortunate to have the Millbrook Tavern right on the premises, and Steam Mill Brewing is a half-mile away. And Sunday River Brew Pub is a few miles from the village.”

Weafer and the team at Mahoosuc Pathways are getting ready for their third annual Snowmaggeddon, a fat bike race that is part of the Maine Fat Bike Winter Series. Mark your calendars for February 2, 2020.

Rangeley Lakes Region

Rangeley Lakes Trails Center
524 Saddleback Mountain Road
Dallas Plantation
207-864-4309
rangeleylakestrailscenter.org

The Rangeley Lakes region has more than 34 miles of groomed multi-use trails to explore. Enjoy stunning views of Saddleback Mountain and Saddleback Lake while you pedal your way through the snow.

You can purchase a seasonal pass or take advantage of their day rate, which varies from $10-$15. You can also rent a fat bike for $35/half day; $55/full day. If you’re new to the sport and prefer to go with a seasoned biker who knows the trails, check out their website for information on guided tours.

The annual Rangeley Fat Bike Loppet is scheduled for January 26, 2020. This epic race has something for everyone: short and long courses on a mix of wide, nordic trails and singletrack. The field is capped at 100 riders, so don’t wait to register! AJ’s Fat Bikes in Rangeley will even rent you a bike.

Katahdin Gear Library, Photo: Shannon Bryan

Photo: Shannon Bryan

Moosehead Lake

Appalachian Mountain Club
Medawisla Wilderness Lodge and Cabins
15 Moosehead Lake Road, Greenville
207-349-0437
www.outdoors.org

The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) boasts one of the largest networks of winter cycling trails in Maine. Visitors will want to hit the 80 miles of single track riding located a few miles southeast of the Medawisla Lodge.

The AMC doesn’t rent bikes, but you can pick one up at Northwoods Outfitters in Greenville. Make it a fun getaway for a couple of days and book a stay at Medawisla. Of the three AMC lodges, it’s the only one you can drive into and park during the winter.

While the AMC trails might be a bit off the beaten path, you can ride them for free. Want a bit more adventure? Skip Medawisla and make an overnight reservation at Little Lyford or Gorman Chairback Lodge. “Guests at Lyford and Gorman fat bike to the facilities, roughly 7.5 miles from the winter parking lot,” said Jonathan Zimmerman, AMC Regional Lodging Manager. “Our staff transports their luggage from the winter parking lots to the lodges.”

Katahdin Area Trails

New England Outdoor Center
30 Twin Pines Road, Millinocket
800-634-7238
www.neoc.com

Fat biking with a view of Katahdin? Yes, please! The New England Outdoor Center (NEOC) has been hard at work creating the Katahdin Area Trails – single track mountain biking trails that originate from the NEOC lodge. Take a ride on their newly groomed mountain bike trails or else you can venture out on their cross-country ski trails. You can also ride across Millinocket Lake with ease. “We put studded snow tires on the fat bikes in the winter,” said Matt Polstein, NEOC founder.

Fat bikes can be rented from the lodge for $15/hour; $40/half-day; and $50/full day. Make sure to end your ride at River Driver’s Restaurant and warm up with a delicious meal.

— Text: Melanie Brooks. Melanie has been writing about Maine for the past 12 years. Read more of her past work at melanie-brooks.com


Shawnee Peak

Shawnee Peak: A Winter Playground for the Whole Family

Shawnee Peak's Lil Pine Carpet

Otis on Lil Pine Carpet

When I made the shift to Shawnee Peak last winter from Maine’s larger, more resort-focused ski mountains to teach my three-year-old to ski, I expected a relaxed, mid-sized mountain geared towards family ski days. What I hadn’t envisioned, in addition, was a mountain whose terrain could challenge and sustain me along with a vibrant après ski scene.   

Before last winter, everything I knew about Shawnee Peak had been garnered from a half dozen night skiing trips—a feature the mountain is widely known for. With the limited terrain offered to night skiers, I didn’t have a good handle on the full oeuvre of the jewel of Bridgton when I purchased my season’s pass last winter. But, my friends with young kids raved about Shawnee Peak as the premier family mountain in Maine, so with a deep desire to convert my children into life-long skiing zealots, I decided I was in.

From the first trip to the mountain with my son, Otis, I knew this was the place.

The parking scene at Shawnee Peak is reliably manageable. Even on days when we didn’t pull into the lot until 9:30 a.m., we still found a spot where my son could manage the walk to the lodge by himself. If you’re a parent, you understand the importance of this perk. From the cozy lodge, it’s a short hike to two magic carpets: Snow Pine Carpet and the longer Lil Pine Carpet. Kids are free on both with a paying adult.

Shawnee Peak

Otis on the lift

It didn’t take long before Otis pointed to the Rabbit Run Triple chair and exclaimed, “I want to ride the high lift!” For just $12 we found ourselves riding up the beginner slope on the chairlift—Otis’s eyes darting around the landscape with pure wonderment as the world slid by.

What’s nice about the snug children’s terrain is that when Otis was tired, we’d ski to the lodge, eat our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and enjoy the easy walk back to the Jeep where he quickly fell asleep in his car seat, the outline of a smile lining his face.

The experience with kids was everything I could have hoped for, but then came the real test: What’s in it for dad when he can slip away solo or with friends? Turns out, plenty.

“We are pretty blessed with our terrain, which offers a great experience for both families and advanced skiers,” said Geoff Homer, whose family has owned Shawnee Peak for more than 26 years.  “I truly believe there is something for everyone.”

The East Glades at Shawnee Peak

The East Glades

With last year’s snowfall and Shawnee’s dedication to blowing snow over 98 percent of its terrain, I often found myself carving through steep, demanding runs, especially off the Sunnyside Triple. With trails such as Upper Kancamangus, Peter’s Plunge, Cody’s Caper, and East Glades, when there’s snow, there are a myriad of bumps and trees to maneuver through— not to mention the secret pockets of heady glades hidden throughout the mountain.

“We place a tremendous emphasis on snowmaking,” said Homer. “Our investment and commitment to having a superior snow surface every day is on the top of our minds each morning.”

On the nights I got out to ski under the glow of sodium lights with friends, it was a joy tearing down the runs off Summit Triple. Though, be warned, the trails can become icy and skied off as the night wears on.

Night skiing at Shawnee Peak

Night Skiing

When the bitter wind chilled our bones, we’d ski to Blizzard’s Pub on the top floor of the base lodge for their modest, but solid selection of Maine beer and a choice burger, before slipping back out for a few last dreamy runs beneath a million pulsing stars.

From tenderhearted day trips with Otis to kid-free runs ripping down the mountain, Shawnee Peak opened up in front of me last winter with astonishing charm.

— Text & Photos: Dave Patterson. Dave is a novelist, beer critic, and lover of Maine winters. His novel, Soon the Light Will be Perfect, is available online and at independent bookstores throughout Maine.


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