Well we have all been in a deep freeze this week and probably suffering from the shack wackies by now but 7 lakes, 2 days and $10,000 in prize money should get everyone outside this weekend….yup it is the annual Long Lake Fishing Derby…….this is becoming one of the premier events in The County so you won’t want to miss it. Like we said it covers 7 water bodies but the main base of operation is located at the Long Lake Sporting Club in Sinclair….so by sled use ITS 105 to Rt 79 onto Long Lake and head north or 98B off ITS81 to Long Lake and head west…..or if you are a land lubber…..stick to ITS 83 north to Rt 96 and follow the signs to Long Lake. You don’t have to fish to enjoy the fun……it is all about that front porch connection……and, we might add….some of the ice shacks have some pretty fancy amenities and of course for the fashion folks……well cold weather isn’t all about drab outfits….no sir you can find lots of styles all weekend !! And of course some of the fishermen/women are pretty savvy chefs and periodically offer up some of their culinary delights to visitors…….so stop by Saturday and Sunday.
By the way, the cold weather and limited traffic have left trails in great shape……..of course the wind has scoured some of the fields, especially further east but all major trails in the system are open and groomed and ready for the 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:
- Cold temps can mean catastrophe if you don’t go out prepared. Make sure not to ride alone. Always tell someone where you are headed. If nothing else bring matches and flashlights and of course your cell phone. Even when you don’t get full bars, text messages usually go through and typically you can always reach emergency 911. Most important pay attention and know where you are….it could save your life !!
- 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.
- 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
- Despite cold temps, ice can still be deceiving so make sure you check locally and try not to go off marked sections no matter what part of The County you are in……there is still open water in places !!
ITS 81 Has really been good all the way through. A few boney spots in fields on the easterly sections but moving west from Mars Hill the trail is in good condition all the way to the ITS 85 intersection. Remember the #9 Lake Trail is closed due to logging but 70A is groomed and in fair condition. Heading south towards Masardis and Shin Pond there is plenty of snow and 81 is groomed and in excellent condition.
ITS 83 Once again you will find good conditions starting up north with boney spots in fields but nothing that would slow you down significantly. Heading southwest out of Houlton you are good all the way down into the Katahdin Region. Trail 64 from Linneus to Oakfield is open now as well as Trail #9 creating some loops in the area.
ITS 85 You will find good conditions throughout the region but remember 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, one just south of Red River Bridge and Birch River Bridge. This one is very active with logging trucks and will be active until mid February so make a note to yourself! Be advised that there have been several reroutes south of Ashland so follow signs and watch for the logging ops mentioned above. . Rt 71D is open as a side route to Grand Lake Sebois and the lake is marked. Remember 71A remains 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 for a logging operation. Connector Rt 62A through to ITS 114 is not open and may not be this winter.
ITS 88 is open, groomed with no problems outside of some lean cover in open areas due to wind. A note that there is logging on Rt 81A
ITS 90 is in good shape from Portage east although it get lean in fields heading towards ITS 81 but they are rideable.
ITS 92 from Ft Kent to Allagash is groomed but remember it ends in Allagash but Allagash does have a loop open to Glazier Lake……nice side trail. Remember the last gas is in St Francis for trip planning. And of course no…..it is not open to Escourt.
ITS 105 is open and groomed and in good condition all the way through including the pipeline section which Linneus has open…..it is narrow in sections and like most trails there are some face slappers still lingering. Up north Caribou has opened their Rt 89 to Rt 94 and Rt 105.
ITS 110 no problems here it is groomed along with trails # 1, #2 and #3
ITS 112 is open and groomed but if you rode it in the past please be advised that it has been rerouted through many pasture areas so please stay on the marked trail.
ITS 114 is open and groomed but the section from ITS 83 in Dyer Brook to the ITS 81/85 connection is narrow like other sections with some whips and face slappers.
ITS 120 (Debouille) No problems here. Groomed and in good shape. Keep gas in mind when you plan your routes. Eagle Lake has gas but you won’t find any more until St. Francis.
Soldier Pond They have been grooming and the trails are in good shape, again like others with some lean spots.
Twin Lakes (Daigle) has groomed and their sections are in good shape.
St. Agatha has their smaller trails groomed.
Frenchville is groomed….again……wind continues to cause drifting in open areas but the trails 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.
January 26 Remember the Carter Brook Snowbirds……well they are coming back and would like to invite you to a Spaghetti Feed Saturday starting at 11 a.m. at the clubhouse.
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.
9th annual Andy Santerre run which begins at Griffeth Ford in Caribou. Log on to www.amhc.org for more info
Ft Kent Steak Feed beginning at 5 p.m. at the Senior Center
Feb 15-17 It’s Moosestompers Weekend in Houlton. Lots of fun, food and more for the whole family. Log on to www.greaterhoulton.com
February 10th Fort Fairfield Club Breakfast at the clubhouse off the Strickland Rd. 7-10 a.m.
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.
February 17 Frontier Fish and Game Club in Fort Fairfield will host Radar Runs on Munson Pond. More info in a bit.
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 American to snowmobile……bring the family for lots of outdoor fun!