One of my best friends during high school called me a few weeks ago and wondered if he and I could get together outdoors for a little winter adventure. I didn’t even have to think about it. Don Littlefield, from Orrington, was always a good friend and I hadn’t seen him in years. I’m always up for getting outdoors. So, last weekend he and I were joined by his wife, Denise, for a half day in the cold and snow on a cross country ski trip in Acadia National Park.
We met last Saturday at the Eagle Lake parking lot on Route 233, about three miles outside of Bar Harbor. Our choice of Acadia as a destination was easy. I live in Ellsworth, only 18 miles away from the park, and Don and Denise only had a short distance further to drive from Orrington. Besides, the carriage paths in Acadia are groomed for cross country skis and the scenery is always outstanding and varied.
We started off under ideal winter conditions. The air was cold, about 15 degrees, but that was above zero, so it didn’t seem too cold. Only a slight breeze stirred up the air when we left around 10:30. We struck off down the west side of Eagle Lake. We turned right at the first intersection to head in the direction of Aunt Betty Pond. We skied together gradually uphill for the first half-mile or so around a small hill. We gained elevation quickly and were soon looking down on the frozen lake.
The snow under our skis hissed with every stride and we kept our pace slow enough so we could talk and catch up on our doings since the last time we’d seen each other. It must have been 30 years ago. I didn’t know that Don was and still is an accomplished road biker. He goes on 100-mile rides, he says, and I’m just amazed.
Soon we came to a long downhill run, which seems like a reward for the short uphill pull. We coasted and rode the snow for probably close to a mile before leveling off at Aunt Betty Pond. The sun was shining brightly on the snow on the pond and Sargent Mountain rose from the landscape in the background. There were only a few people on the carriage path, one guy was skate skiing and he passed us twice.
After another half-mile of level skiing around the pond we started uphill again toward the mountain to a place called Seven Bridges. It’s named for the seven wooden bridges that crisscross a small brook. The path winds its way up the drainage and we stopped at one of the bridges for a snack break. While we were breaking we could look up and see the snow-covered slope of Sargent Mountain, which by now was closer. More reminiscing ensued and we had lots of laughs as we remembered this incident or that from our youth.
After the snack we skied gradually uphill a short ways through a beautiful hemlock stand and soon were at the top of the hill and another intersection where we turned left to head back toward Eagle Lake. We saw a lot more people on this side of the lake and chatted with most everyone about what a great day this was to be outdoors.
We had another downhill run of about a mile and somehow I got in front of Denise and Don. The glide downhill was refreshing and, of course, effortless. I just let the skis go and actually got in an aerodynamic tuck, although I’m sure I wasn’t going fast enough for it to make a difference.
After Don and Denise caught up with me at the bottom of the hill, we only had another mile or so to get back to the vehicles. At this point we slowed down to wring the last bit out of our day. We felt pretty good about our efforts. We had skied a total of about seven miles, I figured, in around four hours.
The laughs and jokes made the time pass way too quickly and before we knew it we were back at the parking lot. If you really want to make the winter go by fast, just head outdoors and play. It’s really special if you are joined by a couple of friends, like Don and Denise.
Winter is really not all that long, when you think about it. My dad used to say, “If you can’t take winter, then you don’t deserve summer.” I believe that. I also believe that if you want to ensure for yourself that you deserve summer, then the more that you embrace winter, the better.