Two weeks ago I had an opportunity to ride with ten folks from Pennsylvania. There were avid sledders so I knew it would probably be a good day……When I went out for my morning walk (to loosen those old bones before a long ride !) the full moon was setting in the west……..in a clear sky….a good sign.
On the way back, the sun’s rays were breaking the eastern sky and the temps were just perfect….not too cold and not too warm……..it was definitely the Goldilocks syndrome!! I checked my sled and made sure it was ready to go, donned my bibs, jacket and other necessary garb and headed down to the trail. When I got to the trail it was like snowmobilers nirvana…….freshly groomed with not one track! Full moon set, sunshine, perfect temp and first track………it doesn’t get any better than that.
I gently pushed the throttle and moved out down a perfectly groomed trail. When I got to the first intersection I stopped to wait for another rider to join me. By now the blue azure sky was clear as a bell and while I waited and took in all the sights I noticed an eagle soaring above me and was mesmerized by its soaring talents. I thought of something someone said about using a map and navigating with gps and other electronic gadgets and I had to smile……….I just knew I didn’t need any fancy dancy navigational equipment because I was right where I wanted to be !!
Once the other rider came we headed north, gassed up at St Peter’s Store then headed up ITS 83 to meet the crew. After a little while ten sledders rounded the corner and we did the meet and greet and decided we would head out on what we refer to as the Debouille Loop.
With twelve of us in a group it is hard as you don’t know if you are going too fast or too slow but it wasn’t long until we settled into a pretty good pace and headed for our first stop, Eagle Lake. The trails over were a mix of windy wooded trails and more open logging roads…….the sun and the sky were spectacularly beautiful and the traffic was pretty decent with most sledders being very prudent and responsible riders; using hand signals and rolling at a reasonable speed.
In Eagle Lake we stopped for a potty break (ladies need that periodically !!!), some java and some petrol. Once we were all gassed and coffeed up we headed down ITS 85 to ITS 120 to begin our trek west. If you haven’t been to the Debouille Public Land Reserve you really should try to put that on your bucket or YOLO list…..spring, summer, fall or winter the Reserve offers great hiking, great kayaking or canoeing, great fishing, and of course great snowmobiling…….and you can explore ice caves….a real refreshing treat during the summer months!!
We stopped on Togue Pond for a Kodak moment and made sure we were all doing ok…….no complaints so we moved northwest hoping to make Ft Kent for a late lunch. Had to make a pit stop at Chamberlains….the last gas if you are coming from Ft Kent to do this loop………shared some small talk, some homemade venison sticks one of the gentlemen had made and brought for snacks then moved on.
By 2 p.m. we pulled along the dike trail on the St John River in Ft Kent and descended into the park lot for a well deserved lunch. Within an hour we were back at it and headed out towards Frenchville. We followed ITS 85 to an absolutely spectacular scenic overlook (of sorts) looking over the St John River. The rolling hills are fun to ride and take you through some beautiful country.
By 4 p.m. we all pulled into the Lakeview Restaurant where we left them to relax and then return to a house they had rented on Long Lake. As I made the trek back to the real world I was reminded of the importance of the economic impact of snowmobiling in Aroostook County and how much just a group of 10 non residents contribute to our local businesses. But they do it because we always tend to offer a great experience despite some challenges dealing with Mother Nature.
At this time of the season most grooming projects are running out of funding and energy after having to replace markings three times this winter !! But they all do it because afterall it is The County and we all know it is exactly where we want to be!
- Warm temps will meal up snow quickly so conditions will be better early then later
- Water definitely flows downhill so expect to find some along the bottom of fields and in low lying areas in wooded sections and yes on lakes there will be slush.
- Expect the unexpected and use caution
- 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 and warm temps have exposed bare ground here so you may wish to look at other options
- REMEMBER…..moose and deer roaming even more so use extreme caution we are currently installing caution signs in high deer traffic areas so be alert
ITS 81 Most projects rolled Wednesday evening but not all. For the most part the trail is in good shape however you will find some problem spots in the Limestone section. Also 81A in the Caswell system is a nice ride. Moving further south Mars Hill was going out Thursday on their section and Walker Siding’s machine is down but Aroostook River was going to pitch in and give them a hand.
ITS 83 Most projects have been out since Wednesday all the way through to the ITS 85 intersection in the southern Aroostook area.
ITS 85 Once again most projects have rolled but warm temps will meal up the base however this trail probably has the best base of all trails and should keep sledders happy for a couple of weeks…..weather permitting.
ITS 86 The trail is open but on the Ox Bow end plowed roads are now down to bare ground so you may want to consider and alternative route. Unfortunately connector Rt 62A through to ITS 114 is not open this winter.
ITS 88 Ashland was going to roll Wednesday night or Thursday night and the Aroostook River end is good. Remember though there is logging and plowed road on 81A
ITS 90 This trail has been groomed in its entirety this week.
ITS 92 Good shape again this week with lots of traffic…..groomers rolled Wednesday and will roll again this week.
ITS 105 Most all projects have groomed at least once this week and some have been able to get out twice. 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 this week and in good shape from ITS 81 in Mattawamkeag to Drew Plantation
ITS 112 groomed once so far this week
ITS 114 Rockabema rolling this week
ITS 120 (Debouille) groomed by the weekend at least once and maybe more weather permitting
Soldier Pond Pretty good just stay right on the corners please !
Twin Lakes (Daigle) Little lean on field markings and you will find a big water hole on 73 B…made it across early in the morning but you may get a little damp later in the day
St. Agatha Groomed this week but please use caution in fields…..83 along the “powerline” was in good shape
Frenchville They were out and their fields are in good shape but still use caution.
Caswell Was out through their section which is in pretty 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.
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.
Pleasant Ridge Runners Club Ride to the Blue Moose. Leave the clubhouse at 9 a.m.
Mars Hill Snowmobile Club Hot Dot Roast 11-2 at #9 Lake….watch for signs
Fort Fairfield Club Breakfast 7-10 a.m. at the clubhouse off the Strickland Rd.
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 !)