Polar Vortex……..Where Is Al Gore Now??

Everyone is still feeling the wrath of the now infamous Polar Vortex and I am not hearing anymore global warming theories lately……although it appears that Mother Nature is going through a menopausal period since we have had pouring rain sandwiched by minus 20 degree days…….the good news is the rain did little damage to snowmobile and ski trails up north.   Albeit, there are lots of wet holes…..which halted grooming for a few days much to the chagrin of some visitors.

Unfortunately what most folks don’t understand is that when you get an inch or more of rain when the ground is frozen….well…… water has to go somewhere so it runs downhill. Moving water is warm so it doesn’t freeze until it stops moving so despite significantly cold temps recently, those water holes don’t miraculously freeze up…….so if it looks like a water hole then it probably is and you should just try to avoid it.   A couple of folks found out the hard way…..and being wet in extreme cold can create some major safety concerns.

The other thing about water is that a 600 pound sled can cross some water areas a bit cleaner than a 22000 pound groomer.  And when the groomer goes through the end result can create even more of a safety hazard.

For lake riders and ice fisherman, water has been pouring on to most lakes so you will find slush…..more in some areas than others so you should be aware.  If you are a lake rider stick to the main routes…..drifting off if you are not familiar with the area can produce life threatening results so ride smart.

While we are on the subject of ice and water I still want to push ice picks…..a simple gadget that you can pick up almost anywhere they sell fishing supplies……you wear them kind of like we use to wear mittens with a string attached to both so we wouldn’t lose them……and if you take an unexpected dunk you put the pick on the ice while you push the handle and a little pick grabs the ice.  So a simple item under $10 like the one pictured below could end up saving your life.



Now for the good news.   Most all projects were out grooming Thursday night and Friday and surprisingly the trails are in good shape with reports coming in as I am typing this blog……so here is the rest of the story…….

  • Water from recent rains has been collecting on rivers and lakes so you will find a lot of slush please use extreme caution
  • Pretty near everyone noted some water holes in low lying areas that are not freezing to quickly despite cold temps so be alert and try to avoid them wherever possible
  • Deer and moose have been sited everywhere so please use extreme caution especially riding at night especially on 83 and 83 B in Caribou where there are significant deer
  • Keep in mind that there are some long distances between gas stations so look at the reroutes and plan accordingly
  • There is an active logging operation on ITS 81 the border trail on the Limestone section so please proceed slowly and with caution
  • There will be plowed sections on ITS 85 near Ox Bow, north of Ashland on the reroute and north of Wallagrass most of which will be remedied with snow

Trail Info

 ITS 85   Now open from Shin Pond north to Ft Kent and Madawaska.   There is active logging still on the Ox Bow end with 3 sections about 1 mile each.   Ashland was able to complete their reroute but they need snow so you will find plowed road for a bit.   Also the section north of Wallagrass is now open but needs a bit more snow.    71D is not open in Ox Bow

 ITS  83    All the reroutes on the southern end have been completed  but remember to watch for signs.  Also there are three active logging ops between Linneus and Dyer Brook so follow signs, keep right and slow down.  Sledders will have to use caution.   Also there is a considerable reroute between Bridgewater and Mars Hill that is well marked but you will leave the railbed.   From there on it is clear sailing but you will come into logging as you approach Madawaska

 ITS 81   This trail has not been groomed from Squa Pan to the ITS 85 intersection but Mars Hill has come to Squa Pan.  Heading north from Mars Hill everyone has been out but there  is a logging operation on the Limestone section of the border trail section of 81 that is very active so  USE EXTREME CAUTION.   

 ITS 92    This trail is in good shape with all projects out.  Just a remind that  92A out of St Francis to Carter Brook is closed until the end of January or mid February due to logging.  Also Allagash is grooming a trail to Glazier Lake and that does connect of ITS 92 even though it doesn’t show up on the Northern Maine map.

 ITS 90     Everyone groomed early this week and will be out by Friday.   Watch for deer !!

 ITS 88 Ashland was out on this week to open their section so this trail is now open through to Ft Fairfield.   Remember there is a reroute on the section in Ft Fairfield so watch for signage.    

 ITS 86    This route is open east and west with good conditions but again there may be plowed sections on the Ox Bow end so use caution.   And remember sadly the Ox Bow Lodge burned down earlier this winter and the Masardis Trading Post also burned down……both represent a huge loss to the area.   71D is not open yet on the Ox Bow end.

ITS 105   Is open to the 81 intersection but may have limited grooming on the Squa Pan end.

 ITS 120   Now open  all the way through from Eagle Lake to the 92 connection south of Allagash 

Rt 100     Now rerouted back to the old route between Caswell and Rt 89.

Rt 89  Now open between ITS 83/90 in Caribou north to the Rt 100 intersection only.   It is NOT open to the 94 intersection.

Rt 94 Van Buren is closed now due to logging.

Daigle and Soldier Pond  both have been out.

Connector 61 is groomed from the ITS- 83 intersection on Sam Drew Mt in Oakfield to the Railroad crossing near the Oakfield- Smyrna town line. 

From the Oakfield/Smyrna line north to the intersection with Trail 81, Trail 61 has been packed but not groomed.

The 1/2 mile section of Trail 61 that uses the Brown Rd in Oakfield has been plowed and is currently being used by logging trucks.

This is a very narrowly plowed road and extreme caution is necessary.

Trail 64 on the Smoki Haulers end has been groomed

On The Social Side

 Meduxneakeag Ramblers Breakfast Saturdays 6-9 a.m. at the clubhouse

Washburn Trailrunners Breakfast /Lunch Saturdays 7 a.m.-3p.m.  Sunday 7 a.m.-noon at the clubhouse

Presque Isle Snowmobile Club Stew Nights   Fridays  5-7 p.m. at the clubhouse

St Francis Sno Angels Saturday Meals  Starting January 11th…homecooked meals starting at 11 a.m.….stop by off ITS 92

January 12     Fort Fairfield Club Breakfast   7-10 a.m. on the Strickland Rd $7 adults/ $4 kids under 12

January 19     Portage Lakers Radar Runs  Registration 9 a.m.

January 25 & 26        Long Lake Fishing Derby…..7 lakes and $12500 in prizes

January 26     Pleasant Ridge Riders Breakfast at Caswell Clubhouse  7-11 a.m.

  February 8      10th Annual Andy Santarre Sno-Run  call 207-498-6431 for more info

February 8-9  Caribou Downtown Ski Festival

February 15    Caribou Snowmobile Club Hot Dog Roast   ITS 105 Stockholm  starting 10 a.m.

February 15    Portage Lakers Pie Auction   7 p.m. at Deans

February 28-March 7            Youth/Junior World Championship Biathalon Nordic Heritage Ctr., Presque Isle




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Kathy Mazzuchelli

About Kathy Mazzuchelli

Kathy Mazzuchelli is superintendant of the Caribou Parks and Recreation Department where she has worked for 38 years. An avid snowmobiler, Mazzuchelli’s first sled was a 1968 Polaris Mustang back in the days when groomed trails were done with snowmobiles, bedsprings and some pretty feisty folks.