« Previous  
 Next »

Lange: North Maine Woods

02/09/11 5:55PM By Willem Lange
 MP3   Download MP3 

(HOST)  For those who haven't already had enough of snow and sub-zero temperatures, commentator Willem Lange has the perfect mid-winter getaway.

(LANGE)  Northern Maine is huge.  Vermont and New Hampshire could almost fit inside Maine north of Portland.  Distances people drive up here are almost Texan.  The North Maine state vehicle is the logging truck, and the favorite toy the snowmobile.  I spent the night in a motel right on the shore of Moosehead Lake.  It was ten below and blowing hard, but snowmobiles roared past all night.

I was looking forward to seeing Stephen Madera of Abbot, Maine, again.  Stephen runs a dogsledding business called Song in the Woods, and I remembered his dogs' unrestrained affection for a total stranger they were about to haul for miles through the bushes.

I breakfasted at Auntie M's Restaurant in Greenville, surrounded by very large guys, and met the rest of our crew.  A few brief hellos, and off we went,.  Stephen said, "It's just up the road a little bit.  We turn right onto a logging road about twenty-seven miles up."  That's what I mean about Maine commutes.

The fabled Hundred-Mile Wilderness of the Appalachian Trail lies just east of here.  AT hikers headed north stock up in Monson, the last outpost before Baxter Park.  They get mail and packages held for them there, get a shower at a local hostel, and set off north again, hoping to complete the trail in seven to ten days.  It's a fitting finish to the two thousand-mile trek here from Georgia.

The Appalachian Mountain Club, whose huts and hostels are well-known in New Hampshire, has in recent years become a player in northern Maine.  The AMC's Maine Woods Initiative has raised millions for the acquisition of lumber company land.  The Club will manage the land for sustainable logging, as well as public access.

The AMC's first major purchase was the so-called Katahdin Iron Works property, 37,000 acres that include a museum of the long-defunct iron works, as well as a stand of virgin white pines that the old lumber barons preserved for their private retreat.  In 2009 the Club announced a further purchase, the 29,500-acre Roach Ponds tract.  This acquisition secures an unbroken swath - 650,000 acres - of conservation land from just north of Greenville all the way to Mount Katahdin.

Four old sporting camps have been renovated for visitors.  Travelers' gear is transported while they ski, snowshoe, hike, or bike, and is waiting when they arrive.  Hard to beat that.

I almost froze today, but had a great time riding behind Stephen's dogs.  Their tails and ears go down on the hard uphills; Stephen grabs a line to help out.  Everything flies high on the downhills, when he rides the brake to keep from running them over.  We finally reached green timber near Medawisla Camps.  Shortly after that we got a greeting from the hosts, John and Amy, and I wrapped my frozen hands around a heavy white mug of hot cocoa.  Ahh...!

This is Willem Lange in northern Maine, and I gotta get back to work.
comments powered by Disqus
Supported By
Become an Underwriter | Find an Underwiter