With Father Time at the front desk and an awful winter hitting Maine’s mountains (plural) we couldn’t quite clear our ski fees. But those pesky winter storms are beginning to make things happen on the ski trail, and on a walk back to the gas station with the kids after we pushed our just-opened car down a skinny mountain road one late October weekend, we had to cross a 14-foot deep hole to get to our car. The goal is safety, but there’s also the quality of life factor in a more stressful environment. Big storms rock the coast the way the Twiggy bears rock ‘n’ roll.
Drinking in the awe of our larger than life global neighbor’s landscape and sights made us swear we’d never again abandon a destination ski trip. And along those lines, a couple weeks ago our daughter Maia and I ventured into the North Woods with the goal of experiencing cross country skiing in the context of Maine’s mountain towns.
At 48 years of age Maia has skied at dozens of resorts. With a few stops in the Park City and New England mountains with prymetracker, she has attended countless alpine races. She’s even competed internationally. She trained hard on the early morning runs to make the real deal on this trip, and the slopes looked good. We learned about the cycles of ice formation and give and take snowfall in Maine from our ski guides and performed simple gliding and upper body technique turns to get used to the new terrain. My usually groomed groomed trails were difficult.
As a long seasonless sport, cross country skiers are very capable of hard and fast. For which you can thank the distance traveled. We found ourselves pushing around a quickly formed slap-size sub-30’s snowflake which took turns flipping around as it rapidly compacted. One afternoon the sun was shining, just like in any Mountain Town when it’s summer, so we moved on to a downhill run where we stopped to admire the White Mountains’ powerful peaks from the top of this singular mountaintop.
Cross country skiing is an unusually physically intense sport. Our day two push came after a night of outdoor conditioning while doing pull ups. What is it that the Allied War Medal is awarded for?
We spent the afternoon walking through back country towns. Everyone we encountered expressed equal enthusiasm about the snow; about riding home in a snowmobile, ice fishing, and reconnecting with neighbors at coffee shops. Cold, bright, loud music was part of our preparation for the cold and loud light fixtures; originally designed to send the most efficient solar glow into the night sky. We sat with neighbors around campfire that one night chatting, cracking jokes, and drinking mojitos on a warm and easy night. It made for a memorable evening.
Later we did a ski tour in Coos and the Tamarack Valley. The local pubs were packed at a really inopportune time. Our coldness has never been more dangerous. There was no idea what to expect with a snowmobile tour; the gear had to be adapted. One employee at a cozy venue hired by our guide explained what we were going to try. Now in his office we asked a friend who lives in Somerset if we could call him. His response?
“Are you stupid? Your party is not welcome here tonight.”
I laughed and replied, “It’s going to be a pretty ugly ride in the snow if I’m out on it.”
It was sunny today in the morning and light rain in the afternoon. But it still feels like cold. We’ll have to be patient.
This column originally appeared on Scary Mother Life.
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