Greetings from Aroostook County………
Last weekend the warm temps made for some awesome sledding……couldn’t find a bad trail in the system. The downside was that grooming slowed down due to warm temps……. but our Canadian neighbors are now sending some cold air south and with trails hardening up and a bit of new snow groomers are out attempting to renovate trails for the weekend. Due to the good job groomers did prior to the warm spell, trails remained good and the forecast is for some good sledding this weekend.
CAUTIONARY NOTES: Snowmobiling can be great fun but remember you never know what might be around the corner or over the hill so here are some notes to help you be safe:
- The warm weather dropped hundreds of field stakes so clubs need to make haste to resurrect them before it snows. Sledders need to keep that in mind and don’t be shy….if you see them down….well just stand them back up!
- IRVING WOODLAND 100 AND MADBOMBMER 30 SLED DOG RACES WILL BE GOING ON SATURDAY JAN 19 AND SUNDAY JAN 20 BETWEEN EAGLE LAKE AND PORTAGE WITH SLED DOG TRAFFIC ON PORTIONS OF ITS 85 BEGINNING AT 10 A.M. SATURDAY AND CONTINUING THROUGHOUT THE DAY AND EVEN THE WEE HOURS OF SUNDAY MORNING. PLEASE USE EXTREME CAUTION!!!
- Fort Kent and the Maine Dept of Transportation have been working to reroute traffic off the dike near the construction work on the international bridge. Sledders are cautioned to follow signs that will lead them to Main St. Keep right and reduce speed.
- There is lots of logging throughout The County remember it is their land, we are invited guests so please heed signs and proceed with caution.
- Remember that new ops may surface any time so please stay alert.
- MOOSE !!!!! They are out there and we have already had moose/sled accidents so please expect to see them, reduce speed, especially on corners and during evening hours
- Ice can be deceiving so stay on marked trails and do not digress.
- I am going to leave this one on for another week because they do save lives!! Life savers: With ice conditions very uncertain in many areas sledders would be well served to purchase ice picks . About $8 a pair you can wear them under your jacket and they would be ready in the event you broke through ice. Metal picks come out when you place them down on the hard surface. A worthwhile investment for sure!!
ITS 81 From the St John Valley south to Houlton and points south the surfacing is good with a few spots with limited cover due to wind and warm temps but nothing major. Remember that entering into Madawaska you will hit logging near the ITS 81/83 intersection. The #9 Lake trail remains closed due to logging south of Mars Hill. Rt 75 Squa Pan area off ITS 81 has logging…about 7 miles of plowed road so keep right and use caution.
ITS 83 This route is in good shape but you will probably find some boney areas in fields around the central Aroostook area. Houlton and into the Katahdin region is reporting good conditions. Rt 87 off ITS 83 from Linneus to Hodgdon has been open and groomed a couple of times. Trail 64 from Linneus to Oakfield is open now as well as Trail #9 creating some loops in the area. Trail 61 in that area is still closed but pretty darn close to being open due to some hard work from some tough volunteers.
ITS 85 You will find good conditions from the St John Valley south to the Katahdin region but keep in mind there is intermittent logging in areas along the way. Around Masardis, you will find 1.5 miles of plowed road near Ashland and between Portage and Eagle Lake there are active ops by the Red River Bridge and Birch River Bridge. There are logging trucks and it will be around until the latter part of February so make a note to yourself! Be advised that there have been several reroutes so follow signs and watch for the logging ops mentioned above. Everyone has been out this week. Rt 71D is open as a side route to Grand Lake Sebois however remember there is a water crossing…..pass at your own risk. 71A is closed and probably won’t be open this season.
ITS 86 is now open and groomed all the way through however you will find 2 miles of plowed road and a pass through logging operation. Connector Rt 62A through to ITS 114 is not open and may not be this winter.
ITS 88 is open, groomed with a couple of boney areas but for the most part the surface has been great.
ITS 90 is groomed but you will find some boney conditions as you move east in some fields but most are in good shape. Portage Lake is marked but sledders should stay on the marked trail.
ITS 92 from Ft Kent to Allagash is groomed but remember it ends in Allagash and DOES NOT CONTINUE TO ESCOURT STATION. Allagash does have a loop open to Glazier Lake……nice side trail. Remember the last gas is in St Francis for trip planning.
ITS 105 is groomed from Van Buren through to Squa Pan but further south is fragmented due to club work on trail sections hit hard with downed trees. Linnues is still working on the pipeline section so bear with them for maybe another week. . Also in the southern region East Grand is reporting that their section of ITS 105 and Trail #7 will remain open for the winter but all other club trails will not be open this season. Rt 94 is open however Rt 89 between Caribou and Rt 94 is still not open all the way through at this time due to open water on the Madawaska River. And here is why the portion in Linneus is still a work in progress
ITS 110 is groomed and in good shape. Also in that area Trails # 1, #2 and #3 are all open and groomed.
ITS 112 has been groomed a couple of times but remember it has been rerouted through many pasture areas so please stay on the marked trail. Also the section of 112 from ITS 83 in Island Falls to ITS 81 in Patten is still being brushed so be patient and check locally.
ITS 114 is open and groomed excepting the section from ITS 83 in Dyer Brook to the ITS 81/85 connection…..this piece is a work in progress……feel like cutting brush…..give them a call!!
ITS 120 (Debouille) Allagash and Eagle Lake have been out and this trail has been in good shape. Nice trail and you are really in the willy wags here so think about your gas………
Soldier Pond has been and is reporting trails in good shape for all folks heading to their steak feed this Saturday.
Twin Lakes (Daigle) has groomed and the fields are in good shape.
St. Agatha has out and the good news is that Long Lake is marked from Rt 79 to the eateries plus across to 98B but watch out for drifts and some slight pressure ridges……..
Frenchville’s system has been groomed and their fields are in good shape.
Culinary Delights and Special Events
January – March. The Washburn Clubhouse and the Meduxneakeag Ramblers clubhouse are open for breakfasts for the season. Meduxneakeag is open for breakfast Saturdays from 6-9 a.m. and Washburn is open Saturdays for breakfast and lunch from 7-2 and Sundays from 7-12.
Remember the Carter Brook Snowbirds…..well they are back and hosting a spaghetti feed Saturday, Jan 26 at the clubhouse off ITS 85 so stop by, help them up and bulk up on some carbs to help you stay warm!
SUPPER ON THE RUN/TWILIGHT POKER RUN, held by the Portage Lakers SC, in Portage. Begins 6p.m. FMI: Beth Hummel, 207-435-2327. www.portagelakerssnowmobileclub.org.
February 9th will mark the 9th annual Andy Santerre run which begins at Griffeth Ford in Caribou. Log on to www.amhc.org for more info
Madawaska will be hosting the USCC East X Country Snowmobile 100 Race log onto www.madawaskasnowmobileclub.com for more info.
Caribou Snowmobile Annual Hot Dog Roast at Axel Siding at the intersection of Rt 105 and ITS 83 in Stockholm off vehicular Rt 161
PIE AUCTION, DANCE, Held by the Portage Lakers SC. Begins 7p.m., Dean’s Motor Lodge. FMI: Betty Benson 207-435-6872. www.portagelakerssnowmobileclub.org.
And don’t forget……if some of the folks prefer non motorized activities we have some of the best Nordic ski trail in Maine, two world class venues, one in Presque Isle and one in Ft. Kent and then nearly every small town in The County has local Nordic trails. Snowshoeing is popular as well as some great downhill skiing and snowboarding at Big Rock in Mars Hill……so if you are coming to one of the top rated areas in North America to snowmobile……bring the family for lots of outdoor fun!