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Far North Offers Super Sledding for Snowmobilers

April 07, 2009 - MILLINOCKET -- The season has ended in most parts of the state, but in the far northern and western areas, there is still some good sledding.

"Just about anything north of Millinocket is still spectacular, not to say there aren't some bare places. It is great spring snowmobiling," said Dave Weatherbee, a registered Maine Guide who leads snowmobile trips for the New England Outdoor Center in Millinocket and Caratunk. "The snowmobiling has been spectacular all season.

"The great thing about spring sledding," Weatherbee added, "is that if you step off the trail, you won't sink up to your neck in powder and it is very unlikely that you will get your sled stuck. The disadvantage is that you can run into some bare spots. I shudder as I do that. It doesn't hurt the machine, but it bothers me."

Other advantages of spring sledding include warmer temperatures, fewer people on the trails and longer days, with the sun not setting until after 6 p.m.

Weatherbee's favorite trip takes snowmobilers on the Wild Kingdom and Logan Pond Trails that feature incredible views of Mount Katahdin. The trails connect to ITS-86 and are located about eight miles from Millinocket.

"It is warmer that is for sure. You can stop along the trailside to have hot chocolate, and it is so much more enjoyable. You can take off your helmet and feel the sun on your face and see views of Mount Katahdin," Weatherbee said. "On a warm sunny day recently we had a snow squall. It darkened up all of a sudden and great big snowflakes fell. Then the sun came out and there was Katahdin in all its glory."

Retired game warden and registered Maine Guide Gary Pelletier specializes in off-trail trips in the backcountry, in the Allagash area. He grew up in the area and enjoys showing people around.

"Right now it is awesome there will still be great snowmobiling. The back woods roads don't get plowed, and the scenery is awesome in places above the Allagash where from the top of hills you can look out over Canada," Pelletier said.

"The other morning it was 2 below here. The crust in the morning will take you places that are just out of this world. There are no leaves to obstruct your view. It is relaxing and something that I've spent most of my whole life doing. It is a unique time of the year to be out there riding. I suggest that if you are going to be doing some back country riding, go along with someone who knows the area and go during the daylight hours."

Last year, Pelletier was snowmobiling in the Falls Brook area until April 19. If conditions remain cold and the rain holds off up north, there could be that kind of sledding this season as well. However, before going out on any trip, check in with local clubs to find out if trails are passable and weather conditions are favorable.

For more information about late season trail riding, visit the New England Outdoor Center's Web site at www.neoc.com or e-mail Gary Pelletier at woodsedge@fairpoint.net.

For more information about upcoming snowmobiling events, visit the Maine Snowmobile Association Web site at www.mesnow.com.

CATHY GENTHNER, Portland Press Herald, April 2, 2009


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