April 24, 2018
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Just another spring in Maine: Ice recedes as snow falls

By John Holyoke, BDN Staff

Golf courses are opening on a nearly daily basis around Bangor. Sleet and hail fell on the region Wednesday morning. Five to 10 inches of snow was forecast for Presque Isle and points north. Early flowers are starting to bloom. And snowmobile enthusiasts are still riding their sleds across Moosehead Lake.

Ah, springtime in Maine. Ain’t it grand?

We haven’t even had a full and proper mud season yet, and still, we’re sitting around wondering what other tricks Mother Nature has up her sleeve. How wacky is the weather? Well, it all depends on who you ask — and where you’re standing when you do so.

To celebrate the spring that is, or was, or may soon be (if we’re lucky), consider this list of goings-on in our great state.

First, let’s start with the positive: Sugarloaf’s still open for business. Want snow? They have plenty. In fact, officials at the Carrabassett Valley resort say they’ve received 3 inches of new snow over the past few days and visitors are still accessing more than 130 trails.

Sugarloaf plans to remain open seven days a week until May 1, and to continue weekend operations until May 15. If you love winter, this is good news.

And if you don’t, consider this: Spring will arrive. Even at Sugarloaf. And to celebrate that blessed (eventual) event the resort is planning (weather and snow permitting) a ski-and-tee weekend for May 14 and 15.

Ski Sugarloaf. Play nine holes at pristine Sugarloaf Golf Club. You’ll pay $39 to play golf, and the fee includes a cart. If you display a valid lift ticket or season pass, you’ll pay $25 to play. Just don’t try to tee off in your ski boots.

If you’re not a snow-lover and you’re looking for proof that warmer times are ahead, you may want to set course for Belfast on Thursday for a program that’s sure to entertain you.

The Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition is staging a PowerPoint presentation called “A Skydance Rendezvous … the Romantic Antics of the American Woodcock” at Belfast Free Library. The program will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will feature guide and naturalist Mike Shannon.

According to a press release, Shannon “will invite the audience to witness the mysterious and amazing romantic rituals of this normally reclusive bird.”

Sounds spring-y to me.

“One of the great opening acts of spring is the skydance of the American woodcock,” Shannon said in the release. “This migrant-resident of bogs and young woodlands is a most interesting wooing artist. His aerial technique, bizarre and mysterious, places him up front as a strange suitor.”

The program is free and light refreshments will be served.

On Tuesday evening I spoke with an acquaintance who told me that he’d had a fine time snowmobiling on Moosehead Lake over the weekend. Upon his departure a pal probed the snowmobile trail with a long metal pole and learned that the trail was still covered with 3½ feet of packed, groomed snow. Meanwhile, farther to the south, many lakes are shedding their winter coats and open-water anglers are taking advantage of the opportunities.

According to Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife regional fisheries biologist Gordon “Nels” Kramer, those looking to try their luck on Cold Stream Pond in Enfield can now do so: The ice went out on Tuesday.

The same can be said of Sebasticook Lake in Newport, where lakeside property owner Larry Ferrell reports that heavy rain and high winds provided the perfect ice-out recipe on Sunday.

As I reported in a previous column, finding out if your favorite lake is ice-free is a lot simpler now, thanks to an initiative of the Boating Facilities Division of the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands. All ice-out information that has been made available to the group is being posted at a special website that also includes ice-out records since 2003.

As of Wednesday morning, the site listed 50 lakes and ponds as ice-free.

Among those that might be of interest to local anglers and paddlers: Hermon Pond, where ice went out on Thursday; Branch Lake in Ellsworth and Phillips Lake (also known as Lucerne) in Dedham (Friday); and Green Lake in Ellsworth and Dedham (Sunday).

Likewise, a pond and a lake on Mount Desert Island are listed as ice-free. Those two, Echo Lake, Long Pond (also known as Great Pond), are likely not the only ice-free waters to be found near Bar Harbor.

And to avoid confusion, I’ll also mention that another Long Pond — as well as another Great Pond — this pair both in Belgrade, were still listed as iced-in as of Wednesday.

The message for today: Don’t fret. Spring is coming (eventually) to a place near you. Here’s hoping it gets here before our calendars say it’s officially summer.

Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

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