TOWNSHIP 11 RANGE 10, Maine — Three men attempting a nearly 300-mile snowmobile trip from Piscataquis County to Aroostook on Monday were rescued by the Maine Warden Service after their machines became bogged down in deep snow on unplowed logging roads.
Cpl. John MacDonald of the warden service said Tuesday that the incident took place after the trio set out to ride from Guilford to Fort Kent.
According to MacDonald, Craig Lemieux, 41, of Parkman, Chad Jones, 31, of North Yarmouth and 22-year-old Tobey Cleaves of Sangerville experienced mechanical trouble with one of the sleds near Farrar Pond in remote northern Maine.
They attempted to break a trail out to American Realty Road but failed when the two working machines became stuck in approximately four feet of snow.
The group used a satellite phone to tell a friend that they needed assistance, according to MacDonald.
Warden Sgt. Durward Humphrey and wardens Preston Pomerleau, David Milligan and Andrew Smart located the group.
MacDonald said Tuesday that the men became separated, with Jones and Cleaves traveling together. The pair had some supplies but did not have snowshoes, he said, making trekking through the deep snow difficult. It took Jones and Cleaves five hours to travel approximately half a mile out to American Realty Road, where they were picked up.
Lemieux was found with his disabled snowmobile, according to MacDonald, and was able to start a fire for warmth.
Lt. Tom Ward of the Warden Service said that wardens are seeing more and more people engaging in what he called “extreme types of snowmobiling” in northern Maine.
“Folks make annual treks through the deepest, most remote part of the county and it’s not uncommon to get a couple of these rescue calls each winter,” he said in a written statement. “These men would have definitely had an uncomfortable night as temperatures plunged into the single digits and we received another three inches of snow.
“I want to remind extreme-type snowmobilers to be prepared and demonstrate good, sound judgment before attempting a trip like this as four wardens and a lot of resources were tied up making sure these men were brought out to safety,” he said, “Every time I send wardens out for these calls, there is a risk factor involved due to the harsh conditions.”
He urged sledders to watch the weather forecast, prepare for emergencies and tell someone where they will be sledding.