Saturday, February 28, 2009

Winter's Finale... get out and see it!

The days are getting longer, the sun stronger, and the snow softer. You are probably one of two types of people by this time of year.

Type 1 - You hate winter and have been embedded in your couch watching all 500 digital channels for the last 4 months. You complain about every storm and you seriously think maybe buying one of those bankrupcy houses in Florida would be a good move about now.

Type 2 - You race to get outside any chance you get to strap on some skiis or snowshoes so you can get some fresh air and see what is happening amongst all this white stuff.

Here is the scarry part, you can move from Type 1 to Type 2 by getting out on a sunny afternoon in March and realizing how great is to get outside in Winter in Maine! By the same token if you have had a busy month and had no time to get outside you can revert from a Type 2 to a Type 1 as well. So, get a jump on spring and spend a couple hours on the 'hill'. Winter conditions are the best they will be all season for the next 4 weeks. Live in the moment and appreciate the good things in life are truly free! Now is the time......
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Monday, February 16, 2009

Are You an Inconsiderate Trail User?

This past weekend, a horse rider decided it would be a good idea to ride their horse down the middle of our groomed ski trails. This left behind a trail of 6 inch holes for 1/2 mile. The damage can't be repaired until another significant snow storm arrives, impacting hundreds of trail users.

I guess I have a hard time understanding of why a trail user thinks leaving deep marks in the trails anytime of year is 'okay'. Did they think about the 6 hours volunteer groomers spent making the trail ready for skiiers or the 2-3 hours they will spend attempting to fix the holes left behind?

You really need to only obey three rules on any trail:

1 - don't damage the trails or cause others to have to clean up your damage

2- don't remove or harm the flora and wildlife

3- don't ruin the trail experience of others

Regrettably this trail user violated all three of these.

So, the GCE and Friend of Libby Hill are in the process for updating usage rules for pets on the trails. The first step is as follows:

Horseback Riders - Please stay off all ski and hiking trails. You may ride on Old Libby Hill Road or the snowmobile/ATV trails. The following trails are no longer available for use by horses:

Turkey Trot
Moose Odyssey
Deer Run
Holmquist Hollow
Harold Libbey
Ghost Trail
Winter Trail
School Ball Fields

These rules will stay in place year round because of damage to trails done by horses over the past 6 months. This includes:

1- erosion of Harold Libbey Trail at meadow crossing
2- trail damage in November after rains on Moose Odyssey and Turkey Trot
3- winter riding on groomed ski trails

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Approaching Zero, Rising Moon, and a New World

Its 6:30pm on a Thursday evening. Current temperature is 9 degrees and falling with a 5-10 mile an hour 'breeze'. I leave the nice comfortable cocoon of my car and strap on my snowshoes to make a test run of our upcoming full moon snowshoe hike. First thing, suddenly its not cold! It's amazing that with a little layering of polypropylene and polar fleece, you are never cold snowshoeing!

I then turn on my headlamp at first to see if it works; it does. The moon is 4 days from full and is high in the sky and about to the 3/4 stage. Venus shines very brightly to the south and as I look overhead I can see the milky way in crystalline condition. I alternate snowshoeing with my light on and off and decide to keep it on only to make sure I don't walk into a dead branch at eye level. In the distance though you see the ghostly glow of pure white snow against the moonlight.

Every 15 minutes or so I stop and listen. The woods seem almost dead quiet except for the whispering of the pines in the arctic breeze. I see tracks everywhere but no eyes peering back. Its funny for the first half hour or so, you feel a little on edge being alone in the dark. I look at the large shadows cast by the 100 year old pines and initially it seems a bit spoky to me. Then I feel comforted by their shadows.

I think about the history of this place, 250 years of wood lots, farms, saw mills, a quarry, pastures, and even Indian Wars. Yet here it sits on a cold winter night much the same as it always has, waiting for someone else to discover it. Despite the fact I've been on this hill several hundred times in the past 10 years, when I come here this night, it looks oh so alien to me. So some night, maybe soon, maybe 100 years from now, when someone else takes this trek they'll get to experience the glory of a cold winter night just like all those who have gone before these last few hundred years!