You don’t want to miss it…..one of the premier winter events in The County ….it’s the 21st Annual Can Am Crown International Sled Dog Race. If you have never been, well think of this. Main St is closed down and covered with snow…..you roll into downtown early in the morning and you smell freshly brewed coffee and hear the sounds of anxious sled dogs ready to run. At 8:00 a.m. you will hear the announcement and then a loud wave of cheer makes its way west down Main St as the first team embarks on the 60 mile course. One by one the teams cruise down Main St cheered on by literally hundreds of spectators. At 9:20 the 30 mile racers get their turn down the royal snow carpet and then at 10:20 a.m. the tough 250 mile teams head out.
Once the teams are gone and the crews clean the snow off Main St most folks shop or hit a culinary hotspot and then head over to Lonesome Pine ski area and await the arrival of the 30 and 60 mile finishers. Don’t forget Lonesome Pine offers some great downhill skiing and access to miles of Nordic ski trails so you can burn off some of those calories from the coffee and donuts while you wait for the mushers. And of course there are some who travel to Portage to await the arrival of the 250 crew which pull into town usually late in the afternoon for their first checkpoint.
Sled dog racing is not for the feint of heart…..it is a lot of work and let me tell you that those folks are in shape. If you never tried the sport, there are several dog sled owners that offer mushing adventures….you really should put that on your bucket list or if you are part of the younger generation…your YOLO list (you only live once!)
And you know as fun as it is to watch those dogs, which I believe are smiling as they work their way through the starting gauntlet, it is even more fun to share that front porch connection. As you mingle around in the crowd you hear some hearty hellos and see the hugs and handshakes. Up here in The County we call that a sense of community…….and that is why The County is a great place to be!
But let’s move on to snowmobiling !! Wow….February raced past! This week if you weren’t here sledding…….well let’s just say you missed a great week…..but not to worry….winter storming warning today with 10 new inches of fresh, great moisture laden snow to pack and the prognosis of great riding so make your reservations today!!! This has to be the best time of year to ride……it is not 50 below, the winds have subsided and the days are longer…….the only problem I had this week was I had to keep checking signs because there were so many people here from Pennslyvania…..I wanted to make sure I was still in Maine !!!
- IT IS CAN AM WEEKEND……Mushers will be using ITS 92 and ITS 85 out of Ft Kent and in Wallagrass and Eagle Lake as well as ITS 120 on the Eagle Lake end and ITS 90 , the Buffalo Trail and the Carr Pond trail in the Portage area. Sledders PLEASE USE CAUTION IN THESE AREAS…..the mushers are spread out all day and evening Saturday and then again throughout Sunday and possibly early Monday morning on the Ft Kent end. We have a great safety record this year so let’s work on keeping it that way
- Due to this storm groomers will be on the trails 24/7 so please use caution
- Groomers will roll but sledders need to remember when storms hit on Fridays it takes some projects two days to hit all their system so check locally.
- Still some active logging on Rt 75 east of Squa Pan, on 81A in the Mapleton/Chapman area, on ITS 86 on the Ox Bow end
- REMEMBER…..moose and deer roaming even more so use extreme caution.
- Please read and pay attention to signs !!!!
ITS 81 This route has been in pretty good shape considering the winter we have had especially in the eastern sections where all the projects have done a great job grooming…..today no reported problem areas. Looking south Benedicta is reporting their section in excellent condition and it just stays that way!!
ITS 83 This trail was well used last week but all projects have done a great job keeping up. Groomers will roll by Friday again after the snowfall with no reports of problem areas.
ITS 85 Couldn’t find a bad spot on this one but remember up north the Can Am will be using portions of the trail. It is well marked and there will be course workers…..please adhere to the signs and their requests and reduce speed in these areas. Please note that Ashland has indicated they have groomed 71A to the river however we are trying to confirm that Ox Bow has also groomed their section. As soon as we receive word we will let you know so keep that in mind before you venture out.
ITS 86 Both projects have been out. Connector Rt 62A through to ITS 114 is not open this winter.
ITS 88 This week we have had lots of good comments on this trail and groomers will be rolling again as soon as the snow let’s up a bit.
ITS 90 Groomed a couple of times this week so the base will be in good shape and groomers will roll between Friday and Saturday. Remember the Can Am Race will be crossing ITS 90 in downtown Portage so reduce speed and follow the signs. Also they will be running the Buffalo and Carr Pond Trails later in the afternoon so use caution.
ITS 92 Good shape this week with lots of traffic…..groomers will be rolling again late tonight and Friday as well as Saturday.
ITS 105 Good shape on the northern and the southern end…no problems. Rt 94 off 105 in the northern area is groomed and in excellent shape as well as Rt 89 south to Caribou. This provides a great loop off ITS 83.
ITS 110 groomed and in excellent shape from ITS 81 in Mattawamkeag to Drew Plantation
ITS 112 Good reports on this connector trail….no problems
ITS 114 Rockabema has this connector in great shape.
ITS 120 (Debouille) Groomed Tuesday and will be again the end of this week. Good shape, great views. The Can Am race will be using a portion of this trail on the Eagle Lake end so please watch for signs, reduce speed and proceed with caution.
Soldier Pond Great loop trail system……wonderful windy, wooded trails…….
Twin Lakes (Daigle) Good job…..the fields are in great shape no problems here
St. Agatha Wow, these folks get lots of traffic but do a great job keeping trails in good condition……no problems.
Frenchville Great views, great trails, well marked and in great shape
Caswell They have their 100 east/west in great shape which provides some great loops off ITS 81
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.
Stew Nights at the Presque Isle Clubhouse on Fridays !!
Homed cook meals at the St Francis Clubhouse on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Can Am Crown Weekend with the Irving 250; the Willard Jalbert 60 and Allen’s /Pepsi 30 dog sled races. Fun for the entire family !
St Francis Snowmobile Club will offer cabbage rolls at their clubhouse from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Pleasant Ridge Runners Club Ride to the Blue Moose. Leave the clubhouse at 9 a.m.
Pleasant Ridge Runners Breakfast at the clubhouse 7-11 a.m. (so close to St Patty’s day maybe they will have green eggs and corned beef hash…..but we are not sure !)