Inclusive Ski Touring:
Making the Outdoors Accessible for All

Inclusive Ski Touring is focused on getting more people outside by introducing them to the joys of ski touring and split-boarding. They believe in making the outdoors accessible for all, and recognize that the financial barrier presented throughout the outdoor industry is substantially limiting for many. With this in mind, a code on the registration page is provided for all programs and events to allow anyone to waive the fee and participate free of charge.

For the 2024 Winter Season, Inclusive Ski Touring is offering group touring opportunities at Mt. Abram in Greenwood, Maine as well as at Whaleback in Enfield, NH. They will be offering Open to All Programs at these locations almost every Sunday as well as Women’s Programs every Saturday at Mt. Abram.

Open to All Program was developed to create a welcoming, inclusive, and empowering space for all individuals looking to try ski touring or split boarding as well as for those wanting to meet other individuals in the touring community.

Women’s Programs are in partnership with the Blizzard Tecnica Women2Women Program to offer weekly Women’s Tours, a Women’s Demo Day, and three women-specific Intro to Backcountry Programs. These programs are meant to bring together, connect, and empower women in the outdoors.

Intro to Backcountry Program offers courses almost every Saturday and Sunday from January to March. The aim of this program is to introduce participants to the backcountry on the East Coast, and learn about essential equipment, techniques, interpersonal skills, and special considerations when traveling outside of the resort environments.

This fully guided program is led by professional guides and is permitted through the White Mountain National Forest. This course is designed for those with some touring experience, but little to no backcountry experience. This is not an avalanche education course and it does not enter avalanche terrain.

Underrepresented Athletes Programs offer 5 inclusive program dates focused on welcoming and empowering affinity groups for underrepresented individuals in outdoor recreation looking to try ski touring or split boarding as well as for those wanting to meet other individuals with similar backgrounds in the touring community.

What makes these programs special is the supportive and encouraging attitudes of tour leaders and participants. All programs are no-drop tours, which means that you will never be rushed, left behind, or feeling like you aren’t fast enough.

To learn more about all these programs, please visit www.inclusiveskitouring.com.


Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School

Get Out and Climb This Winter!

Get out and Climb This Winter!

From top to bottom, photos by: Bill Wood, Seth Fischer, Andrew Krause, Chris Bartram.

Mountain guide Jon Tierney believes that anyone who likes being outside in winter and has a reasonable degree of fitness can be successful climbing ice.

“The learning curve for ice climbing is easier than rock climbing because you can put your crampons and ice axes almost anywhere,” says Tierney, who has been guiding and teaching ice climbing since the 1980s. He has even taken clients to western China to tackle first ascents of difficult ice climbs and mountain peaks. Tierney is one of 80 fully-certified international mountain guides working in the US (IFMGA) and the only one residing in Maine.

If you are interested in learning to ice climb, instruction is essential. Hiring a professional guide is the surest and fastest way of learning to ice climb safely. Tierney’s school, Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School, offers daily instruction in Acadia National Park, Camden Hills, and the Sugarloaf and Sunday River regions as well as over the border in the White Mountains. The school is fully accredited by the AMGA to provide rock, ice, mountaineering or backcountry skiing instruction or guiding. Start swinging those ice tools today!

 

 

 


Art nights at Valerie Wallace Fine Arts in Orono, Maine

Low-Octane Winter Fun

Fierce winters and rugged landscapes are some of the hallmarks of Maine’s cultural identity, which is all well and good if you’re the skiing or ice-climbing type. But what about those who prefer to raise their heart rate with a gripping novel or a round of sudden-death trivia? Explore creative and competitive outlets for indoor fun across the state this winter.

Discover a packed winter schedule of trivia nights. Photo courtesy Androscoggin Trivia Co.

Discover a packed winter schedule of trivia nights. Photo courtesy Androscoggin Trivia Co.

Craft Nights

In the depths of winter, Fiber & Vine on Main Street in Norway casts a warm glow that summons a creative crowd. The store offers a combination of fiber arts supplies and carefully curated wines — each selection filling an opposing wall of shelves in the store’s attractive open-plan interior. But there’s more to do than just fill your cart with yarn and bottles. Fiber & Vine hosts a calendar of events throughout the winter, a mix of recurring favorites that includes a weekly knitting circle; Make & Mend nights; and “Sip and Stitch-alongs” that combine crafts and community, and perhaps a cabernet or two. The lineup includes one-off classes in fiber arts or niche crafts, such as nesting bowl-making or festive felting. Each class and event caters to different skill levels and students are provided with crafting materials. Let the wine and creativity flow!

Photo courtesy Valerie Wallace.

Trivia

Sharpen your pencil and your wit: Maine’s trivia nights reach new heights during the winter months. It’s time to assemble your team of general knowledge heroes and flex your skills with the Androscoggin Trivia Co. based in Lewiston. The quiz collective hosts brain-teasing trivia nights throughout the week at taprooms across Maine, ranging from traditional to themed trivia nights that cover everything from Stephen King to U.S. History to Seinfeld. So even if you paid more attention to sitcoms than schoolwork, you’ll still have your time to shine. The competitive portion of the night runs from 6 to 8 p.m., leaving time to sample Maine’s best brews before, after, and even between trivia rounds. This winter, you’ll find the Androscoggin Trivia Co. in residence at Burano’s in Hallowell on Mondays; Sea Dog in Topsham, Mast Landing in Freeport, and Side By Each every Wednesday; and The Pub at Baxter Brewing in Lewiston and Flight Deck Brewing in Brunswick every Thursday.

Photo courtesy Valerie Wallace.

Book Clubs

Reading may seem like a solitary sport, but it doesn’t have to be. In Portland, a wealth of book clubs offer the opportunity to share titles and hot-takes with fellow readers, no matter your preferred genre — from horror to non-fiction. The local favorite is Print: A Bookstore, which hosts no fewer than four book clubs, including two generalist groups that meet at local breweries on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the month. Special-interest groups include Horror at Hardshore, which convenes on the second Sunday of each month at the atmospheric Hardshore Distilling taproom to discuss spine-tingling stories for those who favor Halloween over any other holiday, as well as Reading the Rainbow, a queer-focused community book club that meets at Urban Farm Fermentory every second Tuesday.

That’s not all. Introverted readers can still build a community, thanks to the recently launched Maine chapters of the Silent Book Club found in Biddeford, Thomaston, and Portland. The Portland chapter is hosted at the Blind Tiger Guest House, where bookworms can enjoy plush surroundings and snacks. Biddeford chapter members meet at Elements, a favorite local bookstore that also operates as a cafe and bar. In the Midcoast, readers flock to Thomaston Public Library each month to soak up the comfort of quiet company and the rustle of turning pages.

Photo courtesy Valerie Wallace.

Paint ‘n Sips

No matter your skill level, Valerie Wallace welcomes you to work up an appetite at the canvas during the monthly Paint, Sip & Eat, hosted at the Governor’s Restaurant in Old Town. “I started this monthly event in the fall of 2016, and it’s been ongoing since then, aside from a pandemic pause,” said Wallace. Classes cost $35 per session and are limited to 20-25 guests. “This includes everything you need to paint along at beginner level with step-by-step instructions. There are lots of tips for experienced people as well!” she said. Each event features a new image for interpretation. And no matter how successful your artistic expression, you can still enjoy drinks and a delicious dinner to round out your evening.

Further south, the Portland chapter of Muse Paint Bar bills itself as the state’s “premier paint and sip,” offering daily classes for public and private events, running from happy hour gatherings to “Paint Your Pet” nights and Taylor Swift-themed nights, where guests can convene with drink and paintbrush in hand.

Forget the ski pass and skip the frostbite, there are plenty of ways to occupy creative minds and build community across Maine this winter. The shift in seasons is the perfect time to pick up a new pursuit—or rediscover a long-forgotten creative passion—alongside like-minded individuals.


— Story by Saisie Moore. Saisie is freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Maine.


Maine Adaptive Sports and Recreation

Maine Leads the Way in Adaptive Winter Sports

Adaptive sports are growing in popularity as awareness and technology evolve, but the United States only has a handful of facilities that are fully dedicated to making adaptive winter sports accessible to everyone. With two of the three comprehensive winter programs in the northeast, Maine is equipped to be a premier winter playground for athletes of all abilities – often at little or no cost to the participants.

Photo courtesy of Maine Adaptive Sports and Recreation

While individual challenges can vary widely from person to person, some common barriers prevent many people from taking part in adaptive sports. Access is the number one challenge, which encompasses both awareness and availability of facilities that can accommodate the unique needs of athletes with disabilities.

While many people are able to pursue their goals and enjoy the use of adaptive equipment at the venue of their choice, it can be very difficult to find locations that are specifically set up to routinely accommodate those with non-typical physical and social needs. The programs and support offered by Maine Adaptive Sports & Recreation (MASR) provides an ideal starting point for anyone interested in trying adaptive sports for the first time.

Photo courtesy of Maine Adaptive
Sports and Recreation

In addition to access, the cost of equipment can be a major hurdle for winter sports, which typically require not only specialized sport-specific equipment but also adequate outdoor gear. Maine Adaptive’s programs at Sunday River bridge this barrier by providing free programs for all participants. In addition to the lessons, which are provided by hundreds of trained volunteers, this program includes the use of standard adaptive equipment as well as winter clothing. The adaptive programs at Sunday River are available for ages four and up, with each session tailored specifically to the individual’s needs.

Adaptive alpine skiing and snowboarding are popular programs at Sunday River, and the team there is ready to accommodate a wide range of needs with both specialized equipment and experienced support personnel. One-on-one lessons aren’t limited to beginners and entry-level skills, rather, they are matched to each student’s abilities and personal goals.

Photo courtesy of Adaptive
Outdoor Education Center

An astounding array of adaptive ski equipment is available at Sunday River, accommodating skiers who have visual impairments, balance and strength challenges, motor deficits, and nearly any other type of physical limitation. For those who can stand on one or two limbs, Two-Track, Three-Track, and Four-Track skis, as well as Sliders, provide increasing levels of support with or without tethers as well as other supportive equipment such as tip retention devices.

There are also several options for those who need to be in a seated position, with the Mono-Ski the most widely known. Dual-Skis and Bi-Skis provide additional support for seated skiers using hand-held or fixed outriggers, and the Ski Bike is an excellent option for those who are suited to a hybrid use of seating and lower extremity use.

Photo courtesy of Maine Adaptive
Sports and Recreation

Skiers ages 10 and up can even participate in MASR’s Alpine Race team, which practices and competes throughout the winter across the state. For those who prefer a slower pace, Nordic skiing and snowshoeing are available at Sunday River and several other locations including Bethel Village Trails.

Maine Adaptive’s Veterans No Boundaries program also offers an annual winter event at Sunday River for veterans with disabilities and their families. This retreat is provided at no cost to participants and includes their lineup of outdoor winter sports as well as inclusive indoor recreation that all family members can enjoy together.

Pineland Farms in New Gloucester also offers the Veterans Adaptive Sports & Training (VAST) program. VAST provides both equipment and lessons year-round, with winter activities including snowshoeing, Nordic pole walking, and cross-country skiing.

While the main operations of MASR are headquartered at Sunday River, they also work with a network of partners throughout Maine to ensure even greater access to the programs. Held annually, the Mono-Ski Training Camp is split into two weekends in late February and early March, with one at Saddleback Mountain in Rangeley and the other at Sunday River. Tickets and lessons are provided by Maine Adaptive, and they can also help with equipment needs if they are contacted ahead of time. Other MASR partners include Mount Abram Ski Area in Greenwood and Black Mountain of Maine in Rumford.

Each year in February, Sugarloaf Resort hosts the New England Blind & Visually Impaired Festival. This multi-day event offers lessons for blind and visually impaired alpine skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels, from beginner to advanced. As part of an effort to expand accessibility, programming also includes lessons for anyone interested in becoming a guide for visually impaired skiers and boarders.

If you are looking for a program that specializes in working with individuals with autism spectrum disorders or other developmental disabilities, the Adaptive Outdoor Education Center at Sugarloaf Mountain is a great resource. Each participant is matched up with a “ski buddy” who supports the skier as they take part in Sugarloaf Ski School, allowing the participant to gain physical confidence and experience as well as engage in meaningful social interaction.

Photo courtesy of Adaptive Outdoor Education Center

We all know that winter in Maine can get a tad chilly at times, so if you’re looking for a warmer adaptive activity, Salt Pump Climbing Company is the place to go. Salt Pump has partnered with MASR to provide adaptive climbing lessons at their indoor facility in Scarborough. Over six weeks, staff guides each student and their “climbing buddy” in a progressive skill-building program designed for newcomers to the sport.

The commitment made by Maine communities to provide access to adaptive resources throughout the state ensures that individuals of all abilities can experience the thrill of winter sports.


Story by Lura Rogers Seavey. Lura is a New England native who explores Maine year-round with her family. She is also a disability rights advocate and a former investigator for the New Hampshire Human Rights Commission.


Learn to Capture Snowy Images Successfully

Wintertime can present some interesting challenges for a photographer.  The colder weather will reduce the battery run time in your camera, moving from cold to warm environments can cause condensation [fog] to form on your lenses, and trying to stay warm and keep your gear protected from the elements takes extra attention.

Once you solve all of those challenges the next one is capturing a scene with a proper exposure.  Snow has a natural high reflectance value and if you shoot the pristine white snow in Auto mode it can come out looking a battleship gray shade since that is what the auto iris is actually programmed to do when shooting in Auto. The problem is not with your camera – it’s just that a bright snow scene is not an ‘average’ scene.  The key is to over expose but not so much that you lose details.  Think about light being like water and you are pouring some into a glass.  Under fill the glass and you will have a dark image, over fill the glass and you will lose some of the water, or in camera terms the highlight details will be lost in the image, which is not good.  Capturing in Raw Mode can significantly help with this because after making your capture you will have the latitude to change the exposure as much as plus or minus 5 f/stops.  But it is still favorable to get the exposure correct in the camera.

The key is to capture all of the tonality of the slightly different shades without ‘clipping’ the highlighted details in the scene.

Remember the overfilling the glass scenario above?  We want to keep all the water.  A Histogram display is a great way to instantly see if you are making the proper exposure.  The ‘mountain’ wants to favor the right side of the display but not so far that it is slammed against the edge. Finding that proper exposure is important to preserving the details in the scene and thankfully when using a digital camera we can see the exposure value and resulting image instantly.

Photo comparison, before and after. Mike Leonard.

Histograms of snowman. Mike Leonard.

White subjects on a white background have a minimal amount of contrast – it’s not like a dark object in front of something white.  Auto Focus may not see enough contrast to operate correctly so you may need to choose manual focus mode.  Details in the image can be brought out out by affecting the contrast in the scene.  Some cameras allow you to set a scene file or Picture Style right in the camera menu where you can adjust the contrast.  Choosing a high contrast setting will let you accentuate the subtle shades in the scene to bring out more details in the picture.

For even more control of the image consider using an editing application like Adobe Photoshop to further expand the tonality and bring out even more details.  Again this requires a properly exposed image to start with.  Some Photoshop Plug-ins can be very useful for digging out even more details in a scene – Topaz Adjust is just one that is very good for bringing out details in what may be a flat looking image.

Processing from camera Raw files is really a great idea since you will get the quality you were seeking when you bought the camera.  JPG files can throw away as much as 80% of the image detail and to only have 20% of the image to edit your abilities will be very limited.  Lots of modern cell phone cameras have the option to capture in a raw mode called DNG – Digital Negative Format – which gives you a lot of opportunities for editing your images after you capture.

If you are not interested in doing your own post processing there are services where you may send your camera raw files to be ‘developed’ and you will receive back optimized files that you can print, post to social media, e-mail … etc.

And if you make your best capture of snow now you’ll have something to look back at on those hot summer days.

— Text & Photos: Michael Leonard. Mike is a master at capturing the extremes with his camera. His favorite subjects to shoot are nighttime scenes including Lightning and Aurora (See How to Take Photos After Dark) and during the day he likes shooting landscapes, seascapes, lighthouses and more.  Learn more about improving your photography at phototourismbymike.com


Play Outdoors on Maine’s Southern Coast

Surfboards, kayaks, and SUPs may be stored away until spring, but that doesn’t mean an end to outdoor sports on Maine’s southern coast. Snow and ice? Bring ‘em on, we’re ready!

Ice skaters will find plenty of choices in Portland. Opposite The Castle, the pond at Deering Oaks is flooded, plowed, and groomed for skating, a magical picture on a frosty winter night with the twinkling lights reflected on the ice.

In the Deering Center neighborhood, across from Memorial Stadium, Ludlow Pond is also maintained for skating by the city, as is the half-acre pond at Payson Park. Off Baxer Blvd. overlooking Back Cove, Payson Park also has a sledding hill, making it a popular place for families on snow-covered weekends.

XC-Ski trails at Baxter Woods in Portland, Maine. Photo courtesy Portland Parks, Recreation and Facilities

XC-Ski trails at Baxter Woods in Portland, Maine.
Photo courtesy Portland Parks, Recreation and Facilities

After closing last winter for renovations, The Rink at Thompson’s Point will reopen for the current season, with more than 10,000 square feet of groomed ice in a covered pavilion. Enhanced by new ice chilling and resurfacing equipment, The Rink offers rental skates, skate sharpening, skating lessons (including adaptive), and training aids, as well as warming stations. It’s a community-gathering place, aided by the adjacent beer garden.    

In addition to its two skating rinks, Portland’s Riverside Golf Course is a multi-sport facility in the winter with two groomed cross-country ski trails, sledding hills, and bike trails. The golf course is a popular place for snowshoeing, and one of the ice rinks is lighted for night skating.

Seacoast Adventure’s Snow Park in Windham is the go-to place for snow tubing. Open on weekends, holidays, and school vacation weeks, the tubing hill is equipped with a carpet lift and child-sized tubes. Children must be at least 40 inches tall.

Snow Tubing at Seacoast Fun Park in Windham, Maine. Photo courtesy Seacoast Fun Park

Snow Tubing at Seacoast Fun Park in Windham, Maine. Photo courtesy Seacoast Fun Park

Cross-country skiers will find 25 kilometers of groomed trails at Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook. The 500-acre farm has been active since the 1600s and the ski trails traverse the farm’s rolling hayfields and dense forests.

Groomed for classical tracked skiing, the trails cover a wide variety of terrain, from gentle logging roads that wind through the forest to the steep and challenging drops at Holstein Hill. The fully equipped rental station includes Rossignol ski packages and lightweight snowshoes for exploring the farm off-trail. On weekdays, leashed dogs are allowed on the trails. Take a break at the Smiling Hill Farm Ice Cream Barn for lunch or a hot drink.

The trails at Wells National Estuarine Reserve at Laudholm Farm in Wells are open for winter walking, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing. The natural snow is ungroomed and trails form a network over easy to moderate terrain.

Payson Park, Portland, Maine. Photo courtesy Portland Parks, Recreation and Facilities

Payson Park, Portland, Maine. Photo courtesy Portland Parks, Recreation and Facilities

A popular route for skiers and snowshoers follows the Saw-Whet Trail to the Farley Trail and the Cart Path, traversing hardwood forests and open fields and highlighted by two scenic overlooks across the estuary. Guided outdoor programs in the past have included winter walks to identify trees without their leaves.

Harris Farm Cross County Ski Center in Dayton is predicting a snowy winter for their 40 kilometers of groomed ski and snowshoe trails.  With 30 kilometers groomed with wide skating lanes and 35 kilometers of track set, the trails wind across the 600-acre farm, which has been in the same family for four generations. Meandering through woodlands and across fields, the trails include terrain for everyone from beginners to expert Nordic skiers.

Fat biking is allowed on the groomed trails, but only when the snow is solid and packed enough that the tires don’t sink. On weekdays, dogs are welcome, but again, not if the snowpack is too soft. The lodge includes a full-service rental shop, where the Harrises also sell new and used ski equipment and snowshoes year-round. The large sunroom is a good place to warm up by the woodstove and eat a BYO lunch or snack.

Although ice climbers have to travel to Camden, Grafton Notch, Acadia, or elsewhere for winter thrills, they can stay in shape for the big climb at two indoor gyms: Evo Rock & Fitness in Portland or Salt Pump Climbing in Scarborough.

Skiers, skaters, and fans of other winter outdoor activities have plenty of options for gear and equipment. Along with ski and snowshoe rentals at Harris Farm and Smiling Hill Farm, and rental skates at Thompson Point, the area is well supplied with retail shops. Enjoy your options this winter!

Resources

The Rink at Thompson’s Point
www.thompsonspoint.com/therink

Riverside Golf Course
www.riversidegolfcourseme.com/golf/winter-activities

Seacoast Adventure’s Snow Park
www.seacoastadventure.com/winter

Smiling Hill Farm
www.smilinghill.com/xcski.html

Wells National Estuarine Reserve at Laudholm Farm
www.wellsreserve.org

Harris Farm Cross County Ski Center
www.harrisfarm.com

Evo Rock
www.evorock.com/portland-me

Salt Pump Climbing
www.saltpumpclimbing.com

 

Sport Shops

Arlberg Ski and Surf Shops
Marginal Way, Portland
www.arlbergski.com

Boulder Nordic Sport East
Olympia Street, Portland
www.bouldernordic.com

Gorham Bike and Ski
Congress Street, Portland
www.gorhambike.com/contact/portland-pg1204.htm

Play it Again Sports
Marginal Way, Portland
www.playitagainsports.com/locations/portland-me

Rodgers Ski & Sport
US 1, Scarborough
www.rodgersskiandsportmaine.com

Gorham Bike and Ski
Post Road, Wells
www.gorhambike.com/contact/kennebunk-pg1243.htm

 


— Story by Bobbie Randolph. Bobbie is a native New Englander who writes about outdoor activities in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.


WInter in Machias, Maine

Winter Arrives Way Down East

Skiff and lobster buoys-Mikchael Leonard Photography

Photo by Michael Leonard

When November’s freezing nights arrive in the Machias region, folks crank up their woodstoves, and the smell of burning seasoned wood wafts along with the fragrance of freshly-tipped balsam branches. Seasonal work is a major economic factor in Washington County, and the crafting of hundreds of thousands of beautiful Christmas wreaths and holiday decorations for shipment across America, provides job opportunities for many people. 

Wreath making can be found across all of Down East in the Machias area, home to major players such as Whitney Wreaths in Machias, and Maine Coast Wreath Co. in Millbridge. In addition to these companies, there are a host of small, independent providers of beautiful and fragrant wreaths.

Skating in Machias. Photo by Carol Savage Photography

Photo by Carol Savage

By mid-December Mother Nature has usually graced the area with a blanket of snow, which launches a variety of fun winter activities on the Down East Sunrise Trail. This 96-mile multi-use trail is dedicated to snowmobiling, snow shoeing, cross-country skiing and hiking after the trail is snow covered. The trail traverses some of Maine’s most pristine landscapes of blueberry barrens, forests and breathtaking coastal scenes. There are access points along the entire trail. In Machias one can get on the trail just before the causeway/dike.

Great accommodations and dining opportunities make Machias a perfect winter destination. Mason’s Brewing Co., Helen’s Restaurant, and Pat’s Pizza are several of Down East’s excellent options.

Superior amenities for your winter get away will be found at both The Bluebird Motel and the Machias River Inn.

The town of Machias and the Machias Bay Area Chamber of Commerce provide public ice skating at the South Side Ball Field, to provide folks with another great way to enjoy winter fun. For more information, contact the Machias Bay Area Chamber of Commerce – (207) 255-4402.


Jim Harnedy

Jim Harnedy (1932-2020)

— Story by Jim Harnedy. In his third professional career, Jim was the author of a number of books and magazine articles, as well as being an editor and co-publisher of several Maine magazines. Jim passed away in the spring of 2020, and it is with great fondness that we celebrate his many contributions to the Activities Guide of Maine.

 

 

 

 

 

 


North and South Bubbles as seen from Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park.

Capturing Aurora: Coming to a Sky Near You!

Northern lights are on the bucket list of many people to see and experience. Traveling to Alaska, Norway, Iceland, and other northern points are certainly one way to fulfill this, but if you do a little homework to prepare yourself you may be rewarded and get to see the show without the need for a passport or expense of an airplane ticket. Capturing the display will make for a wonderful visual memory to always have.  Here are some pointers to get you on your way to making your best shot of nature’s very unique light show in the sky.

The key to getting the perfect photo is understanding exposure. You need a camera capable of making long exposures in order to collect the dim light. Just as you would use a cup to collect water from a faucet, think of your camera as being a collector of light when you “make” a picture. (I always say “make” rather than “take” a photograph, because you’re creating visual content by doing more than pushing a button.) We usually capture an image in a fraction of a second under bright daylight – it’s like filling a cup under a high-pressure fire hose. Light from Aurora is like a dripping faucet and just as you would need to hold the cup under the faucet for a long time to fill the cup, the same is true with your camera to collect enough of the dim light to make a favorable exposure.

For DSLR camera settings – I start around ISO 1000, Daylight White Balance, try 10 seconds at f/4 as a working starting point and adjust from there. Capturing in Camera Raw mode will give you the maximum editing capabilities after you make your image. Auto focus will likely not work and may actually prevent the camera from shooting, so disable that function – usually it is a switch found on the lens. Use the Live View function and manually adjust the focus to make some bright star sharp in the electronic viewfinder. Alternately, adjust your lens to the infinity mark but not beyond or your stars will look like blurry snowballs. A good tripod is a must to keep the camera steady for the anticipated longer exposures. If you don’t have a shutter release cable, consider using the timer function in the camera and Live View mode together to mitigate any camera motion when pressing the shutter button. A fast f/2.8 or better wide-angle lens is preferred but a fast 50MM will work too.

There are apps for smart phones that will allow for long exposures and it is worth looking and installing one of those before going out to capture an Aurora. Most Android cell phones have the ability already installed. If you have an Apple phone you may need to download a free app such as Adobe Lightroom that restores many camera functions that were not included. Also, there are adaptors that will let you mount your phone to a tripod and it’s worth investing in one of these handy mounts if you only plan to use your phone. Most cell phones have an option to trigger the shutter with a simple Voice Command that will leave the phone motionless. Capturing in Raw mode or Digital Negative [DNG] is important to be able to make more adjustments later when editing your image.

Planning where to take the picture is very important. In general, any place with a good look angle to the northern horizon and with low light pollution is where I would begin. It’s worth scouting out places on a map and visiting those places in the daylight. Grab a compass or use the one in your vehicle or GPS to help you locate a place with the northerly exposure.

The sky needs to be free of cloud cover – if you cannot see stars, then you will not see the Aurora. Also, the moon phase is important as a partial or full moon can wash out the ability to see the dim lights of an Aurora.

Aurora is NOT a seasonal event – it comes in about a 21-year cycle and can be visible any month of the year. The year 2025 is the predicted coming peak for Aurora activity, and like an incoming tide, there are always some rogue waves, so to speak, that are a little higher than the rest. We are experiencing this now as the cycle continues to peak.

The Kp index is an indicator of the Aurora activity. You can find the current state anytime and sign up for alerts by going to this website:

Sometimes, this will spike during the day, and were it not for the sunlight, we could actually see the Aurora more often. The higher the Kp index, the lower in latitude the Aurora display may be visible. When the index goes to 5, the Aurora can be visible in northern Maine – primarily Aroostook County and into Canada. An index of 6 puts the visible Aurora on the horizon in the Midcoast area and to the west through the lakes regions. When the Kp index approaches 7, you could expect to see a possible Aurora in Southern Maine. With an index of 8 and above, it’s possible to see Aurora overhead in southern Maine and possibly further south into southern New England. The Kp index is only updated in three-hour intervals and if you see a rising trend it’s worth going out to look as there can be momentary spikes where you may catch a view of the lights.

The three optimal conditions of having a cloud-free sky, a new or setting moon, and a higher Kp index does actually happen more often that you think. If seeing Aurora is on your bucket list, it is best to keep an eye on all three factors and know with the coming peak that the odds of seeing Aurora in your sky is looking pretty good.

Even if you are not successful capturing the Aurora, there still are other elements that are worth trying for, such as the Milky Way. You can create some wonderful nighttime images just using a cell phone as well and that’s just one more bucket list item to forward to this summer.


Story by Michael Leonard, a certified night owl who feels right at home shooting pictures after the sun sets and before it rises. His course, AfterDark, details all you need to make pictures at night. See more of his course offerings under the Events Tab at his website www.phototourismbymike.com.


Rangeley: A Summer Paradise

Maine’s Rangeley Lakes Region includes more than the 10-square-mile lake itself, extending to five other large lakes and hundreds of smaller lakes and ponds. Add rivers and streams, two mountains – Saddleback and The Horn — just east of the lake, and mile after mile of forests and what do you get? A paradise for those who love the great outdoors and all the activities it invites. Fishing, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, climbing, camping, cycling, wildlife watching, or just lazing beside the lake – whatever your summer bliss, you’ll find it here.

Biking in Rangeley

Photo: Chris Riley

Take your bike to the extensive network of trails at the Rangeley Lakes Trail Center. Golfers will appreciate the scenic Mingo Springs Golf Course, a favorite of both beginners and scratch players. Although the course is relatively short, it’s challenging, and birders love it for the variety of species that nest alongside the course. All the lakes and ponds surrounded by forest make a prime wildlife habitat, and moose-watching and photography is one of the region’s most popular activities.

Mingo Springs Golf Course

Nice views from Mingo Springs Golf Course

To explore the lakes and ponds and enjoy the wildlife that make their homes on the shore, rent a canoe or kayak at Ecopelagicon the Rangeley Adventure Co. on Pond Street in Rangeley. Single and double kayaks, canoes, and standup paddleboards can be rented by the hour, day, or week. You can also find hiking, camping and paddling gear for all your other outdoor activities.

The Rangeley Inn is located in the center of Rangeley, and has renovated accommodations in the historic inn or at the Haley Pond Lodge on the waterfront. All rooms feature a private bathroom, satellite TV, WiFi, and a coffee maker. Choose from rooms with one king bed or two queen beds, or suites with one or two bedrooms. Some rooms offer a mini-fridge and microwave. Sit down to a relaxed breakfast in the elegant historic dining room or enjoy dinner in the rustic Tavern. Take a stroll down Main Street to a number of local shops, galleries, and eateries. Caryn Dreyfuss at Morton and Furbish Real Estate can help you find your own little spot of heaven in the Rangeley region, whether it’s a cozy cabin in the woods or a family-sized lakeside retreat.


A backpacker on the AT on White Cap Mountain heads north for Katahdin.

Hiking Opportunities Abound in Maine’s 100-Mile Wilderness

A hiker enjoys the views of Katahdin from the Rainbow Loop Trail, Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area.

The 100-Mile Wilderness is the name given to the next-to-last section of the Appalachian Trail on its 2,192-mile route from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Mount Katahdin in Maine. A vast, 750,000-acre expanse of forests and mountains, lakes and ponds, and rivers and streams, this iconic region ranges roughly from the town of Monson to the West Branch of the Penobscot River.

While not formally a wilderness area by any legal definition, the 100-Mile Wilderness is nonetheless very primitive and wild.

Hikers on Monument Cliff on Third Mountain enjoy views of the high summits of the White Cap summits.

Stephen Clark, editor of the Appalachian Trail Guide to Maine from 1964 to 1982, coined the name to alert AT thru-hikers to the fact that no resupply points existed along this remote and rugged 100-mile stretch of trail, still largely the case today.

Conservation lands abound in the 100-Mile Wilderness thanks to the dedicated work of many public and private organizations, and there are recreational opportunities aplenty. For hikers and backpackers, there are many miles of foot trails to explore. Here are a few fun ways for foot travelers to enjoy the best of Maine’s incredible 100-Mile Wilderness.

The summit of Borestone Mountain rewards hikers
with far-reaching views north into
the 100-Mile Wilderness.

Borestone Mountain Audubon Sanctuary

Revel in 360-degree views from this craggy 1,981-foot peak in the namesake 1,693-acre wildlife preserve. Hike the Base Trail to the lovely Sunset Pond tucked into the upper mountain’s base. Then scamper up the Summit Trail to the top, taking advantage of helpful iron rungs and a handrail along the way. It’s 3.5 miles round-trip.

Morning sun at Antler’s Campsite on the AT.

AMC Maine Woods Initiative Conservation and Recreation Area

The Appalachian Mountain Club has protected 100,000 acres in the 100-Mile Wilderness and built an extensive trail network. Climb Third Mountain (2,082 feet) via the Gorman Loop Trail, Third Mountain Trail, and the AT for a good look around at the club’s remarkable preservation efforts. About a seven-mile loop.

Gulf Hagas

Popularly known as the Grand Canyon of Maine, this deep, narrow slate canyon on the West Branch of the Pleasant River drops an impressive 400 feet over four miles. The National Park Service owns this nearly 2,000-acre scenic jewel, while the Maine Appalachian Trail Club maintains an eight-mile loop trail system. Hike it all, or opt for a briefer segment.

Nahmakanta Public Land

Remote ponds and scenic ridges dominate this 43,000-acre property, the largest in Maine’s public lands system. A quarter of the land is designated as an ecological reserve, and within that, there’s the roadless Debsconeag Backcountry. Ramble around the 13-mile figure-eight loop trail at will to discover the wonders of this special place.

Enjoying a view of Clifford Pond in the Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area.

 

Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area

Home to undisturbed stands of mature trees and the highest concentration of remote ponds in New England, the entire 46,271 acres of this amazing place is an ecological reserve. The Rainbow Loop visits several ponds while offering panoramic views ranging from majestic Katahdin south across the 100-Mile Wilderness. Hike the six-mile circuit.

Appalachian Trail

Sunrise over Wadleigh Pond.

Hikers have countless ways to savor time on the AT, from the ponds and ridges north of Monson and the Barren-Chairback Range summits to the peaks of the White Cap Range and the lakes, rivers, and ponds to its north. Grab a map and guidebook, develop a plan, and go. Ambitious hikers could, of course, spend 7-to-10 days hiking the entire 100-mile section.

Access to many 100-Mile Wilderness trailheads is through the KI Jo-Mary Forest, a consortium of landowners that manages gates, roads, campsites, and related facilities. There are fees for day use and camping. Please consult their website for info on rules and regulations.


Story & Photos by Carey Kish of Mount Desert Island. Carey is an avid hiker and beer drinker and author of the new book, “Beer Hiking New England.


Summer Fun on Maine’s South Coast

Miles of white sand, saltwater taffy, long estuaries to explore by kayak, and several iconic lighthouses – what’s not to love about this stretch of Maine’s picturesque shoreline?

Wells and York are all about families kicking back, and their beautiful beaches are open to all. Each offers a wide range of lodging and dining choices. Visit the local Chamber of Commerce offices or the Maine Tourism Information Center for more information about various businesses and events throughout the region.

Sea Viper roller coaster at Palace Playland, Old Orchard Beach

Photo courtesy of Palace Playland, Old Orchard Beach

Maine’s longest stretch of sand beach makes Old Orchard Beach a magnet for summer vacationers. 7 miles of soft white sand that’s meticulously cleaned each night by volunteers. Smaller beaches spread north along Scarborough’s coast. Some – such as the beautiful Western and Ferry beaches – are protected by the long peninsula of Prouts Neck.

With all this coastline, you can expect a variety of water sports – surfing, paddle-boarding, sailing, fishing and kayaking. Scarborough Marsh has miles of meandering channels alive with birds, to explore on foot or in a kayak or canoe. The Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center runs guided nature walks and canoe trips through the 3100-acre estuary. Birders flock to Prouts Neck Bird Sanctuary. The Wells Reserve at Laudholm offers seven miles of walking trails in a protected estuarine environment.

This flat coastline is great to explore on two wheels, and you can follow the Eastern Trail, a greenway of backroads and trails for bicycles. Also an easy walk away from the Old Orchard Beach Pier and amusement park, the Beachfront Condotel has two-bedroom and studio units with kitchens and Jacuzzis. For RV enthusiasts, Seacoast RV is Maine’s premier RV dealer for recreational vehicles, camper sales, service, parts and accessories. They carry an extensive line of new and used recreational vehicles and campers for sale from leading manufacturers as well as motorhome rentals.

If all the saltwater makes you hungry for seafood, you won’t find it fresher than at Ken’s Place (207-883-6611) on Pine Point Road in Scarborough. Nothing fancy, but Maine’s best ocean-fresh fried clams, lobster rolls, chowders and a raw bar. A must visit!

Old Orchard Beach


Freshwater fun on Maine Lakes, Photo by Stillman Rogers Photography

Freshwater Fun on Maine Lakes

Maine’s 228 miles of Atlantic shoreline, which expands to 3,500 miles if you count all of the bays, coves, and inlets, make it a paradise for water sports enthusiasts. But not all Maine’s water sports are in the sea: lakes offer boating, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, sailing, swimming, and other ways to play in the water.

Cobbosseecontee Lake. © Stillman Rogers Photography

The largest is Moosehead Lake. With more than 75,000 acres of water in northwestern Maine, its shoreline is marked with bays and islands that make it a favorite for kayakers and canoeists. Northwoods Outfitters rent canoes and kayaks or you can rent a boat from Wild One Rentals to fish for smallmouth bass, land-locked salmon, and lake trout. Northwoods also offers guided canoe and kayak trips, family fishing adventures, and moose safaris.

If you want to see Moosehead from a different vantage point, take a floatplane ride with Currier’s Flying Service or a scenic cruise on the century-old Steamboat Katahdin, both in Greenville.

Closer to Portland and easier to reach, Sebago Lake is perhaps Maine’s most popular body of water. Surrounded by resorts, campgrounds, and rental cottages, Sebago has sandy beaches, including Songo Beach, whose half-mile of sandy shore is backed by giant pines and hardwoods. Nason’s Beach & Campground  has its own beach and lakeside campsites. To enjoy the lake’s more than 30,000 acres of water, stop at Sebago Lake Boat Rentals for kayaks, pontoons, motorboats, paddle boards, water trampolines, slides, canoes, fishing boats, floats, tubes, and water skis.

At nearby Long Lake, in Naples, you can rent pontoon boats and deck boats with waterslides at Long Lake Marine  or tour the lake onboard the Songo River Queen II, a replica of a Mississippi paddle wheeler. For aerial views of both Long and Sebago lakes and the Songo Locks that connect them, take a seaplane ride with Naples Seaplane Adventures in Naples.

Rangeley Lake, in western Maine, is renowned for fishing, well known for its 12- to-18-inch brook trout and four-to-six-pound landlocked salmon. Rangeley Region Sports Shop  is a good place to find fishing gear and flies and Green Farm Guide Service  can provide guided fishing trips to the best spots.

Damariscotta Lake State Park. © Stillman Rogers Photography

Both Rangeley Lake State Park, on the southern lakeshore and the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust have waterfront campgrounds.

Rivers Edge Sports Shop in Oquossoc maintains a large rental fleet of canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards, which you can launch right from their dock or have delivered and picked up at your favorite put-in. The lake’s three public boat launches are located at the Rangeley town park, at the state park, and at the outlet in Oquossoc.

South of Baxter State Park, Millinocket Lake is blissfully remote, entirely surrounded by forest, and with very limited access. The minimal roads to its shore have preserved a pristine lake that’s perfect for exploring by canoe or by kayak. A boat is the only way to get to the sandy beaches of the north shore. Lakeside lodging is at Twin Pines Cabins, a series of log cabins and campsites owned by the New England Outdoor Center, and at Big Moose Inn, Cabins & Campground.

Book a three-hour moose cruise on Katahdin Princess from the inn to visit moose-feeding areas around the lake and watch for eagles, loons, and other wildlife. A public boat launch is on the southwestern shore, just off the Golden Road.

Don’t confuse Millinocket Lake with the even more remote Lake Millinocket, north of Baxter State Park. It, too, has very limited access and only one place to stay. For more than 130 years, Libby Camps have offered fly-fishing packages at Millinocket Lake with accommodations in cabins.

Well-known to locals for its sandy beaches and exceptional fishing, Damariscotta Lake is close to the busy seacoast routes, but little used by tourists. Damariscotta Lake State Park, at the northern end in Jefferson, attracts families to its long sandy beach. The water is shallow for quite a distance into the lake, making safe wading and play space for young children; lifeguards are on duty during busy seasons.

At the lake’s southern end, Spectacle Islands are locally popular for swimming and have a few campsites managed by the Midcoast Conservancy. Reservations are required. The islands are easy to reach by kayak, canoe, or small boat from the nearby public boat launch on Bunker Hill Road in Damariscotta.

Great Pond, Belgrade. © Stillman Rogers Photography

Near Augusta, Cobbosseecontee Lake is known to fishing enthusiasts as one of Maine’s best places to catch smallmouth and largemouth bass. Hopeful anglers can launch at either of two public ramps, one off Route 202 near Manchester at the north end of the lake, and the other on the west side near Camp Cobbossee Boy’s Camp.

Lakeside Lodge & Marina has an extensive selection of tackle and also rents pontoon and fishing boats. Maine Premier Boat Rentals will deliver rental pontoon boats, fishing boats, pontoon boats, or canoes to a camp or public launch on this or any other lake of your choice.

Just north of Cobbosseecontee Lake, Great Pond is one of the seven Belgrade Lakes. On its western shore, Great Pond Marina rents boats for fishing and waterskiing, as well as paddleboards, and the marina store carries everything from wakeboards and water skis to sunglasses.

This is only a sampling of the more than 6,000 lakes and ponds in Maine. Those traveling with a kayak, canoe, or small boat will have no trouble finding ramps and put-ins all over the state where they can chart their adventures.


Story by Bobbie Randolph. Bobbie is a New England native who writes about camping and outdoor adventures on the water, on the snow, and on the trails.


Tips on Ticks and Prevention

Like so many people who live for the outdoors, I’ve spent much of my time in the woods and waters of Maine until, at age 26, an unexpected rash brought my life to a screeching halt.

Tick habitat

Photo: Jaclyn Sanipass

As a trained wilderness guide and a Maine native, I was well aware that Lyme disease existed here in the Northeast. Yet, I didn’t know its devastating effects when I developed the familiar bull’s eye rash in 2006. I wished I’d known more before becoming bed-bound for more than two years and succumbing to a desperate search for my health. Luckily after seven years, I fully recovered with the help of a team of doctors, neurological rehabilitation, and support through adaptive sports programs. Now I am back running trails, backpacking, and practicing martial arts in the elements again.

The cool, fresh mornings of spring in Maine open up so many opportunities to go outside and focus on healthy activities. As green begins to return in the forests, it seems to draw people from their homes and call them back to the great outdoors.

Staying healthy outdoors is on the mind of many fresh-air seekers hitting the trails this summer season. Whether you are hiking, backpacking, camping, trail running, , or gardening—there is potential for tick exposure. Children are most susceptible because they tend to play outdoors the most, and people who spend time outdoors are at a higher risk. Pets let outdoors can also pose a risk, as they are likely to carry ticks back into the home.

Avoid Bushwacking; Stay on Trails

Try to stay out of the long grass as many ticks stand on the end of the blades of grass reaching up with their legs, ready to attach to whatever happens to walk by. They will attach to a pant leg, shoe, or sock and then migrate upwards, looking for warmth.

Tick habitat

Photo: Jaclyn Sanipass

Tick Checks are Extremely Important 

I do quick tick checks along the trail, especially if I travel through low brush, leaf litter, or tall grasses. I do another check once I return to my car. Then once back at home, I do a thorough tick check. Use your hand to rub along your skin as it may be easy to mistake a tiny deer tick for a freckle. A tick will be raised slightly so you might be able to feel one more easily than being able to see it. Use a mirror to check your back. Then, throw your clothes in the washer and dryer. Be sure to check thoroughly. Favorite places for ticks are behind the knees, armpits, waistline, groin, and scalp.

What if you find an attached tick?

Remove ticks as soon as you see them. There are tick scoops that you can find at most outdoor stores or use regular tweezers. Grasp it as close to your skin as possible and pull with a gentle tug. Try to avoid breaking the tick. If broken, the head of the tick will be left inside the skin and may cause irritation. If you suspect infection, consult your physician right away.

Take a picture of the embedded tick. Write down the day and time that it was found embedded in case you need to have it examined or keep records for a doctor. Watch the area for any signs of rash and note any developments of other symptoms such as headaches, nausea, malaise, diarrhea, fever, etc.

In short, always be mindful of where you walk this summer. Not all ticks carry infectious diseases and not every bite will lead to disease. But better to be careful, educated, and aware. Consult your physician if you suspect you may have a tick-borne illness.

Jaclyn Sanipass is a survivor in complete recovery of neurological Lyme disease and Babesiosis. After a seven-year battle, she returned to the wilderness and led women’s retreats for more than 10 years. Her newly released book It’s In Your Dreams is a novel about her life as a wilderness guide and her journey of healing from Lyme disease.

Like so many people who live for the outdoors, I’ve spent much of my time in the woods and waters of Maine until, at age 26, an unexpected rash brought my life to a screeching halt.

As a trained wilderness guide and a Maine native, I was well aware that Lyme disease existed here in the Northeast. Yet, I didn’t know its devastating effects when I developed the familiar bull’s eye rash in 2006. I wished I’d known more before becoming bed-bound for more than two years and succumbing to a desperate search for my health. Luckily after seven years, I fully recovered with the help of a team of doctors, neurological rehabilitation, and support through adaptive sports programs. Now I am back running trails, backpacking, and practicing martial arts in the elements again.

The cool, fresh mornings of spring in Maine open up so many opportunities to go outside and focus on healthy activities. As green begins to return in the forests, it seems to draw people from their homes and call them back to the great outdoors. 

Staying healthy outdoors while maintaining the proper social distance is still on the minds of many fresh-air seekers hitting the trails this summer season. Yet, there is more to think about beyond the current pandemic when heading out on that next adventure.

Whether you are hiking, backpacking, camping, trail running, participating in one of the new virtual trail races, or gardening—there is potential for tick exposure. Children are most susceptible because they tend to play outdoors the most, and people who spend time outdoors are at a higher risk. Pets let outdoors can also pose a risk, as they are likely to carry ticks back into the home.

Avoid Bushwacking; Stay on Trails

Try to stay out of the long grass as many ticks stand on the end of the blades of grass reaching up with their legs, ready to attach to whatever happens to walk by. They will attach to a pant leg, shoe, or sock and then migrate upwards, looking for warmth.

Tick Checks are Extremely Important 

I do quick tick checks along the trail, especially if I travel through low brush, leaf litter, or tall grasses. I do another check once I return to my car. Then once back at home, I do a thorough tick check. Use your hand to rub along your skin as it may be easy to mistake a tiny deer tick for a freckle. A tick will be raised slightly so you might be able to feel one more easily than being able to see it. Use a mirror to check your back. Then, throw your clothes in the washer and dryer. Be sure to check thoroughly. Favorite places for ticks are behind the knees, armpits, waistline, groin, and scalp.

What if you find an attached tick?Hungry deer tick

Remove ticks as soon as you see them. There are tick scoops that you can find at most outdoor stores or use regular tweezers. Grasp it as close to your skin as possible and pull with a gentle tug. Try to avoid breaking the tick. If broken, the head of the tick will be left inside the skin and may cause irritation. If you suspect infection, consult your physician right away.

Take a picture of the embedded tick. Write down the day and time that it was found embedded in case you need to have it examined or keep records for a doctor. Watch the area for any signs of rash and note any developments of other symptoms such as headaches, nausea, malaise, diarrhea, fever, etc.

In short, always be mindful of where you walk this summer. Not all ticks carry infectious diseases and not every bite will lead to disease. But better to be careful, educated, and aware. Consult your physician if you suspect you may have a tick-borne illness.

BE TICK AWARE

The Global Lyme Alliance, a research and education organization based in Connecticut, gives suggestions on their website to help people to “Be Tick AWARE,” which is an acronym for the following:

AVOID areas where ticks live. Ticks thrive in woodpiles, leaf litter, long grass, beach grass, bushy areas, stone walls, and perimeters where the lawn meets the woods.

WEAR light-colored clothing to spot ticks more easily, long-sleeved shirts tucked in at the waist, long pants tucked into high socks, closed-toe shoes, and a hat with your hair tucked in, if possible. Do not walk in the grass barefoot or in open sandals, even if it’s cut short.

APPLY EPS-approved tick repellent (such as DEET or picaridin) and insecticide (such as permethrin) to skin, clothing, and shoes as directed.

REMOVE clothing upon entering the home; toss into the dryer at high temperature for 10-15 minutes to kill live ticks. Putting them in the washer, however, will not.

EXAMINE yourself and your pets for ticks daily. Feel for bumps paying close attention to the back of knees, groin, armpits, in and behind ears, belly button, and scalp. Check everywhere – ticks love to hide where the sun don’t shine.

ABOUT SIZE
Tick larvae are less than 1 millimeter long (the size of a poppy seed) while nymphs are 1-2 millimeters long, about the size of a pinhead. Adult ticks can range from about 2 – 6 millimeters long when unfed and can grow up to 10 millimeters long after feeding. Source: www.domyown.com

TICK TESTING
The University of Maine offers tick-testing services and provides surveillance information on ticks and tick-borne disease in Maine. To learn more visit: www.extension.umaine.edu/ticks/submit

TICKS & PETS
Monitor your pets every time they come back inside for ticks, so that they don’t carry them inside your home. Look thoroughly around the eyes and ears, between front and back legs, between toes, around the tail, and around the neck and shoulders. Consult a veterinarian about effective options for controlling ticks on dogs and cats. Source: www.domyown.com


"It's In Your Dreams" by Jaclyn Sanipass

Story by Jaclyn Sanipass, a survivor in complete recovery of neurological Lyme disease and Babesiosis. After a seven-year battle, she returned to the wilderness and led women’s retreats for more than 10 years. Her newly released book It’s In Your Dreams is a story about her life as a wilderness guide and her journey of healing from Lyme disease.


Why winter is the Superior Hiking Season

Why Winter is the Superior Hiking Season

A gregarious "gray jay" perches on the hand of a hiker. Photo: Garrick Hoffman

A gregarious “gray jay” perches on the hand of a hiker. Photo: Garrick Hoffman

According to conventional wisdom, the best hiking season runs from May through the end of October. It’s warmer, visually spectacular, and attracts the most amount of in-state and out-of-state visitors, so it’s got to be better, right?

From this hiker’s perspective, not quite.

I have reached the point where I don’t even hike anymore in spring or summer. Fall is an exception (how could one not love autumn hikes, with crisp conditions, bedazzling foliage, and no humidity?) Instead, I have completely fallen in love with winter hiking, for a number of reasons.

Snowshoes are essential when "breaking trail" after a snowstorm. Photo: Garrick Hoffman

Snowshoes are essential when “breaking trail” after a snowstorm. Photo: Garrick Hoffman

Picture going out on a trail walk in the winter the day after a fresh coating of snow to see the way the sun illuminates the snow on the tree branches in such a way that it practically glows. That’s what winter hiking will offer you as you ascend a mountain.

Now, envision rolling your ankle from all the rocks, crevices and divots in the trails. Hiking in the winter is actually easier for this reason, as the snow fills in all the gaps and makes finding purchase easier on your feet, particularly with sturdy winter boots or snowshoes.

Perhaps the best reason to hike in the winter is that there’s something so serene and peaceful about it. It’s quieter, less crowded. While everyone heads to the ski mountains on the weekends, often you’ll have the trails to yourself. True, many a hiker still ventures to the mountains in the winter, but it simply does not compare to the scale of people during the typical hiking season from spring to fall. With a solo hike through the hushed woods, you’re guaranteed tranquility and solitude.

Descending a mountain comes with stellar views in the winter. Photo: Garrick Hoffman

Descending a mountain comes with
stellar views in the winter.
Photo: Garrick Hoffman

But, hiking in the winter can actually provide a bit of thrill as well, especially when you’re traversing an ice-capped ridgeline or racing against the very limited daylight hours. This is why greater caution must be taken while hiking in this season.

The beauty of winter hiking is that you find yourself walking through a transformed landscape. I truly love hiking on a snowy path and feeling as though I’m immersed in a bonafide winter wonderland, with fresh snow all around me. Or seeing the breath of my hiking companions illuminated by the sun as we make our way to the summit. Reaching the summit and marveling at all the snow-capped trees and surrounding mountains – it’s always something to behold.

And if none that entices you, maybe this will: no bugs!

So gear up with all your best winter outdoor wear, slap on a pair of microspikes, and go hit those snowy trails! 


Story by Garrick Hoffman. Garrick is a freelance writer, photographer and actor based in Auburn. Visit his website at GarrickHoffman.com, and follow him on Instagram at @garrickhoffmanphotography, and on Facebook at @ Garrick Hoffman Photography.


The University of Maine at Farmington: Dominating the Slopes

The University of Maine at Farmington

Thanks to its perfect location at the gateway to the best alpine skiing, snowboarding, and Nordic skiing in Maine, it’s not surprising the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) boasts several successful intercollegiate Snow Sports programs: Alpine Skiing (Giant Slalom and Slalom), Freeskiing (Rail, Slopestyle, Skiercross), Nordic Skiing, and Snowboarding (Rail, Slopestyle, Snowboardcross). During the summer and fall months, UMF Snow Sports team members were putting in their dry-land training and are now out on the snow across the Northeast doing what they love.

Photo courtesy of UMaine at Farmington

Over the past several years, the University of Maine at Farmington varsity Snowsports programs have quietly become a national powerhouse. The teams are based at both Sugarloaf and at Farmington’s Titcomb Mountain.

For his efforts, Andrew Willihan, UMF Director of Snowsports and head men’s and women’s Alpine coach, was named the 2022 U.S. Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) National Coach of the Year. He also received the Eastern Region Coach of the Year award in 2018.

Willihan, a 2006 UMF graduate, completed his sixth season at the helm of the men’s and women’s Alpine teams. He oversees all UMF ski and snowsports programs: Men’s and Women’s Alpine, Nordic, and Snowboard / Freeski. His efforts in recent years to improve the caliber of UMF’s training and competition opportunities at Sugarloaf has positioned UMF’s teams for great achievements – now and into the future.

Last season, Farmington sent four competitors to the USCSA National Championships at Lake Placid, New York. Ryan Brueninghaus, Samuel Scheff and Carson Theriault, combined to finish sixth in the men’s Freeski team combined — UMF’s best showing in men’s Freeski at the USCSA national championships. And Women’s Nordic skier Mullein Francis finished 27th among individual competitors at the Nationals.

On the Alpine slopes, four UMF skiers Simon Spear, Abbey Landry, Zach Berliner and Jacob Roy took All-Reynolds Division honors, with Berliner finishing seventh in the Giant Slalom at the USCSA Eastern Championships at Sugarloaf.

With 1,600 students, UMF is a small college, but it has long been a powerhouse in the collegiate ski and snowboard scene, providing its student-athletes the opportunity to compete on a local, regional, and national level. For ski and snowboard minded students who want to compete at a collegiate level, the University of Maine at Farmington provides a nationally recognized college education at a competitive price, while training and racing at the best resorts in the Northeast.

~ ~ ~

The 2023 U.S. Collegiate Ski & Snowboard National Championships will be held March 6-11 at Mammoth Mountain, California. (https://www.uscsa.org/2023nationals.html)


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