Northeast Backcountry Ski Getaways
|Maine in early winter|
When Greg Drummond opened his Claybrook Mountain Lodge in Highland Plantation, Maine, he thought that his winter business would depend on snowmobilers. For a while, it did. Then the backcountry skiers discovered the Bigelow Mountains and the snowmobile trails that let them glide through miles of backcountry without the hard work of breaking trail. Today, he says, it's cross-country skiers who make up the bulk of his wintertime clientele. Drummond has skied all over the area as a local trip leader. He's also created miles of ski trails on his property, which adjoins Bigelow State Preserve.
The Bigelow Mountains offer a wide range of skiing experiences, from flat snowmobile trails in the lowlands to extremely difficult backcountry routes, including the steep descent down the south face of Poplar Mountain, which Drummond characterizes as"for experts only."
For non-experts, one of Drummond's favorite routes is a five-mile ski from Long Falls Dam Road to Bigelow Lodge. Outbound, the trail offers a gentle glide through northern forests; it's the return that can get interesting, if the wind is blowing just right.
What does the wind have to do with skiing in a sheltered forest?"If the prevailing wind is northwest, we come back across the lake, skiing with the wind at our backs," says Drummond. "Sometimes there's a thin crust on the top of the snow that accumulates on the lake, and the lighter-weight members of our party don't break through it; they just stay on the crust and put their arms out and the wind takes them. Those of us who aren't so lightweight sink in and have to ski, and we end up two miles behind."
It may be the invention of a new sport: Ski-sailing, anyone?
Location: Highland Plantation, Maine.
Contact: Greg Drummond, Claybrook Mountain Lodge, (207) 628-4681.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication