Thursday, February 26, 2009

Dog Sledding in Harmony, Maine

Maine: The way life should be!

This past Thursday, Eric and I along with the Maryland Sled Dog Adventures sled dogs set off for the long drive north to Maine for over two weeks of dog sledding and other winter adventures. Arriving in Maine late Thursday night we spent three “harmonious” days at the Lumberjack Lodges in Harmony, Maine skijoring and dog sledding.

The Lodge at Lumberjack Lodges Harmony, Maine

While in Harmony we stayed in the Spruce Cottage, a cozy one bedroom log cabin. The Spruce Cottage has a small kitchen, a first floor bedroom, a loft bedroom, and is well heated with a wood stove and propane monitor heater. Charlie, Kim, Riley, and the kids are quite dog friendly and Lodge has roughly two miles of groomed cross country trails that join into the local Harmony snowmobile trails. We had stayed at the Lumberjack Lodge earlier in the season without the dogs and the dogs fit in well at the cabin. The cabin was cozy with the five dogs and two adults, but is suitable for smaller skijor or dog sledding teams.

The Spruce Cabin

By Friday evening, it was clear after two long days in the dog truck that the dogs needed a bit of exercise so Eric set off for an after dark skijor with our two youngest sled dogs, Okemo and Acadia, while I remained at the cabin to prepare a yummy hot dinner. Okemo, in particular, had a blast racing through the windy cross country trails at the lodge. Every time he would hit a downhill, Okemo would start to gallop with maniacal glee. Eric’s light only penetrated a little ahead of the dogs, so he had to trust in his lead dogs Okemo and Acadia. Eric’s report on the trails was quite positive so on Saturday I decided to try out the trails with the whole team.

Waking early on Saturday morning, we harnessed all five of the Maryland Sled Dog Adventures dogs and I headed out for approximately four miles of dog sledding and lots of gee/haw training on the lodge’s trails and then onto the Maine ITS (snow mobile) trails. In lead, were Zoe and Sobo, with T-Bone in team, and Acadia and Okemo in wheel. While out dog sledding, we enjoyed gorgeous tree lined trails and pristine snow conditions. The only slight “bump” on the trail was when the sled dogs dumped me within the first 100 feet while trying to make a hard haw onto the cabin loop trail. Holding on, my handler and Maryland Sled Dog Adventures’ chief poop scooper (aka Eric, my husband) came to my rescue as the raring to go sled dogs attempted to drag me through the lodge parking lot. After several go arounds on the Lodge trails, we caught the connector trail to the Maine ITS system and headed out towards the town of Harmony. Along the way we passed through dense forests and open fields. All told, we ran approximately 4 miles and did quite a bit gee haw training on the looping trails surrounding the Lumberjack Lodges.

Coming down the trail with Sobo and Zoe in lead

On by the photographer

A "gee" turn onto the cabin loop trail

Another shot of the same "gee" turn. The dogs cut this one a bit close

Wheel dogs, Acadia (l) and Okemo (r) pulling hard

Sunday morning, we planned an early departure north to Canada in an effort to outrun the oncoming nor’easter predicted to strike Maine. Arising early, we once again we harnessed the sled dogs this time placing “Rookie of the Year” 9 month old Siberian, Acadia, and established MVP, Zoe in lead, followed by T-Bone in team, with Lombardi trophy winners, aka the “Big Boys” Okemo and Sobo in wheel. After several gees and haws, we once again caught the connector trail to the Maine ITS this time heading in the opposite direction towards Cambridge, Maine. At about 3 miles out, we were beginning to run short of time and I decided to turn the team around and head back towards the lodges. This trail took us on a winding, twisty, turning ride through pine forests.

After our successful run, Eric and I packed up the whole Maryland Sled Dog Adventures crew and headed north towards Baisley Lodges in St. Jacques, New Brunswick where we will spend the next two weeks skijoring, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and, of course, dog sledding. Stay tuned for details on our Canadian adventures.

The long drive north (ok, not really)