The Portland Phoenix

Letter from Aroostook: Come play in the snow

We are emerging from four days of punishing cold, when temperatures reached as low as minus-22, according to our home weather station.

Local weather forecasters predicted temperatures hovering around 30 below zero – weather fit for neither man nor beast – and it came close in several locations.

But in The County playing in the snow is a part of life, celebrated with outdoor events throughout the winter.

It takes a hardy soul and great snow gear to be out and about in such temperatures. The frigid weather has not stopped folks from getting out on the ice, although cautiously, and the past few days of bitter cold have made everyone happy as the snow piled up and the lakes froze solid. 

If you are hardy and adventurous, you may want to consider signing up for two days of climbing Mount Katahdin. While not technically part of Aroostook, the state’s tallest mountain is visible from most of the southern half of The County and earns consideration simply based on that. Acadia Mountain Guides hosts climbing dates Feb. 19 and 20, and March 12 and 13. It is not an easy climb, but likely to be a great memory for years. For additional information contact Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School

If you are a downhill skier, you might want to consider a trip to Big Rock Mountain in Mars Hill. Big Rock offers the highest vertical drop in northern Maine, surely to prove a good run for any advanced skier, but with additional trails for the novice and intermediate skier. This ski area has collaborated with L.L. Bean on a Thrifty Thursday special with reduced-price lift tickets and ski rentals from 1-7 p.m. every Thursday. 

Winter in Aroostook County may be challenging, but that doesn’t stop enthusiasts from enjoying snowmobiling and other outdoor activities. (Courtesy Cheap Snow Gear Ltd.)

Head a bit farther north to Presque Isle for The County Snow Fest. This three-day celebration of winter begins at 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 28, and runs through Sunday, Jan. 30 at 4 p.m. It’s perfect for snowmobile enthusiasts, with a poker run, activities for the kids, breakfast, dinner, ice harvesting, fat-wheel biking, and much more for those who just love winter.

If you love fishing, do not miss the Long Lake Ice Fishing Derby in St. Agatha, Jan. 29-30, now in its 17th year. It is known as Maine’s largest ice fishing derby and last year more than 1,800 participants registered. Although the event began at Long Lake, which continues to be a popular site, there are 10 bodies of water for fishing, giving winter anglers plenty of time and space to try to land more than $45,000 in cash and prizes.

So if you are looking for a snow adventure, head to The County for outdoor fun, plenty of great lodging and restaurants, and friendly folks (I might even bundle up and be out there too).

Jan Grieco is a retired college instructor and former newspaper reporter. She lives in Perham, where she farms and lives off the land.

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