Aroostook Outdoor News: 12.15.16 edition

In this edition: 1) An annual #BirdCount in #CaribouME. 2) An #astronomy presentation about the #ChristmasStar in #EastonME. 3) Celebrations of the season in #MadawaskaME and #LimestoneME. Plus lots more! #offugo…

#AroostookThing of the week: The Fort Kent Outdoor Center Snowshoe Clinic in Fort Kent.

GAO ShoeWhen the ‘shoe fits…

Do you remember the first time you went snowshoeing?

I sure do. And the memory is not necessarily a positive one.

Outside of tromping around the yard as a child on drug store bought snowshoes, I had never really given the sport much credence until my second or third winter as an Aroostook college student from downstate.

My buddies liked to rabbit hunt, so I borrowed my father’s old traditional-style trapper’s snowshoes, complete with rawhide webbing and leather bindings, so that I could join them on a mid-March march for hares.

The jaunt started out great; the sun was shining, the snow was deep (the central Aroostook area averages over 100 inches of snow each winter), and the rabbit tracks were abundant.

To be honest, I don’t remember if we bagged any bunnies. I do remember taking a break at the edge of a cedar thicket to eat the lunches we had packed, and I remember how much better a bologna sandwich tasted after an honest hour or two of breaking trail in deep snow.

I also remember having a bit of a struggle removing a boot from a stubborn snowshoe binding. The all-leather binding on traditional ‘shoes wraps around the toe of your boot. There’s a strap that wraps around your heel and laces to secure the whole apparatus.

Did I mention that this whole thing was made of leather? And that though the sun was shining, the air temp was a bit crisp?

Well, put all of these story elements together and what you get is a device, worn by age and use (and non-use), that is susceptible to stress when the freeze/thaw continuum of a late winter day takes its toll on aged buckskin.

The darned binding broke.

First it was the laces. I managed to re-lace the ‘shoe with what was left, but then the heel strap let go. My buddies and I jerry-rigged the thing several times, but nothing worked for more than a few steps.

We could have been one mile or ten miles from our house, I really don’t remember. The remainder of the trek felt like a winter marathon.

Carrying a backpack and a small rifle on one snowshoe in deep snow, while lugging the now loathed left snowshoe seemed like a slog of Olympic proportions.

I must admit, frustration got the better of me and I ended up flinging the ‘shoe ahead discus style many, many, (many!) times. Along with post-holing (this occurs, usually mid-stride, when your leg sinks into deep snow, much like stepping into an existing hole made for a fence post) every third step, my adventure had become much more arduous than I had bargained for.

But, boy, did I get a heck of a work out!

Thankfully, snowshoes of today rely on more durable materials. Other advancements in size, shape, and style have helped make snowshoeing an easy sport to start and master, which is why it is one of the fastest growing sports in the country.

If you want to learn more about snowshoeing, you can get started on the right foot this weekend at the Fort Kent Outdoor Center’s Snowshoe Clinic this Saturday, December 17 from 9:00-11:00 a.m. at FKOC Lodge, 33 Paradis Cir.

All ability levels are welcome. The organizers recommend that you bring water, warm clothing, and perhaps a light snack (I’d go with a bologna sandwich).

If you don’t have snowshoes, don’t worry, they have you covered. There is no cost. Contact Joey Ouellette (207-834-9039) or FMI

I have been out snowshoeing many times since that unforgettable first foray. It’s a great way to get outside in the winter.

I still have my dad’s snowshoes, though I haven’t used them much after I fixed that confounding binding for good.

Why am I hanging on to something that was such a source of exasperation?

I had so much fun that day, I don’t ever want to forget it!

#AroostookNote: For more info about snowshoeing in Aroostook, visit and search the “Staycations with Sarah” and “FitSource” archives. You may see someone you recognize!



Saturday, December 17

Audubon Christmas Bird Count, Caribou. 6:30 a.m. at Tim Horton’s, Bennett Dr. We invite you to join us for all or part of this day-long count in the Caribou area; all welcomed for this long-standing holiday tradition! We need all hands on deck! Contact Bill Sheehan (207-227-7301) or FMI


*Saturday, December 17

Fort Kent Outdoor Center Snowshoe Clinic, Fort Kent. 9:00-11:00 a.m. at Fort Kent Outdoor Center Lodge, 33 Paradis Cir. Since we have tons of snow, now is a great time to go snowshoeing! All ability levels welcome. Bring water, warm clothing, light snack. If you don’t have snowshoes, don’t worry, we have you covered. Cost: Free! Contact Joey Ouellette (207-834-9039) or FMI


*Saturday, December 17

Francis Malcolm Science Center Presentation: The Christmas Star, Easton. 2:00 p.m. at FMSC, 776 Houlton Rd. Enjoy a festive investigation surrounding the mystery of the Biblical star as well as a traditional celebration of the holiday season from the warm comfort of the northernmost star theater in the continental United States. Cost: $5/adult, $3/student, $20/family. Contact FMSC (207-488-5451) FMI


*Saturday, December 17

Aroostook Mûsterds Banquet, Caribou. Celebrate Summer Series division winners, overall winners, runner of the year. Always an enjoyable event; connect with other runners and talk all things running. Meet & Greet: 5:00 p.m. at Par and Grill Restaurant, followed by dinner and presentation of awards. Contact The Bull FMI


Sunday, December 18

Four Seasons Trail Association Christmas at the Lodge, Madawaska. 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. at Four Seasons Lodge, 425 Spring St. Pasta lunch, sleigh rides, tubing, skiing, snowshoeing, and SANTA! Bring the kids! Visit FMI


*Sunday, December 18

Northern Maine Pagan Pride Association Winter Solstice Gathering, Limestone. 12:00-3:00 p.m. at 6 Vernon Ave. Join us for revelry as we celebrate the Solstice and coming of Winter with games, crafts, Yankee Swap, Potluck. A Ritual for Light and sing a long will also take place. Children welcome. Visit FMI


*Monday, December 26

Quoggy Jo Ski Center Opening Day, Presque Isle. 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Keep doing your snow dances! Contact Gene Cronin (207-540-1496) or or visit FMI


Monday, December 26-Tuesday, December 30

Fort Kent Outdoor Center Nordic Ski Festival, Fort Kent. Looking for great snow for Nordic skiing? Look no further than FKOC, host of World Cup Biathlon, national, regional ski events. Events include Try it Biathlon (equipment, instruction provided), Winter Wildlands Backcountry Film Festival, Freestyle 5km Time Trial, and lots of fun. Contact Carl Theriault or visit FMI


Saturday, December 31

Audubon Christmas Bird Count, Presque Isle. 6:30 a.m. at Tim Horton’s, Main St. We invite you to join us for all or part of this day-long count in the Presque Isle area; all welcomed for this long-standing holiday tradition! We need all hands on deck! Contact Bill Sheehan (207-227-7301) or FMI


*Saturday, January 14

Baxter State Park Summer Camping Reservations Opening Day, Millinocket. 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. in-person only at Baxter State Park Authority Headquarters, 64 Balsam Drive. Only 20% of each campground may be reserved; two reservation limit per person or camp group. Contact Baxter State Park (207-723-5140) or visit FMI


Ongoing Programs:


County Strides Running Group, Presque Isle. Sundays; 10:00 a.m. at various locations. Open to all abilities; be ready for an easy run of 30-45 minutes, and bring friends! Visit County Strides at FMI


Francis Malcolm Science Center Walk-in Tours, Easton. Weekdays; 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Experience our planetarium’s new, full-dome, digital projection system, featuring a 30-minute activity; 15 minutes in the star theater, 15 minutes to visit the facility at large. Cost: $5/visitor; reservations requested. Contact FMSC (207-488-5451) FMI


Sportsmen’s, Inc. Meeting, Stockholm. First Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at Axle Siding Clubhouse (intersection of Lake Street/Rt. 161). Outdoors men and women promoting the traditions of the outdoors. If you’re interested in joining, you’re welcome to attend as a guest. Kids are welcome too! Visit FMI


Friends of Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge Meeting, Limestone. Second Monday of each month; 6:00 p.m. at ANWR headquarters and Visitor’s Center, 97 Refuge Rd. Founded in 1998, Friends are involved in a number of volunteer projects on the ANWR in an effort to balance the enhancing of habitat with the public access privilege to enjoy wildlife in an unmolested environment. Contact Friends of ANWR (207-328-4634) or FMI


Nordic Heritage Sport Club Meeting, Presque Isle. First Tuesday of each month; 6:00 p.m. at Nordic Heritage Center, 450 Fort Fairfield Rd. The club promotes healthy outdoor recreation, economic vitality in Central Aroostook County by providing first-class facilities and programs to area residents, athletes, visitors. Visit FMI


Presque Isle Fish and Game Club Meeting, Presque Isle. Last Tuesday of each month; 5:30 p.m. at PIFG clubhouse, Parsons Road. Established in 1947 to help protect, conserve, maintain and restore our natural resources as well as to protect and promote our outdoor heritage. Meetings include a delicious supper, cash bar, short business meeting. Visit FMI


Four Seasons Trail Association Meeting, Madawaska. First Wednesday of each month; 6:30 p.m. at Four Seasons Lodge, 425 Spring St. Non-profit organization dedicated to promotion of healthier lifestyles for this community; participation open to anyone interested. Visit FMI


Fort Fairfield Frontier Fish and Game Club, Fort Fairfield. Second and fourth Wednesdays of each month (fourth Wednesdays during summer); 6:00 p.m. at FFFFG clubhouse on Monson Pond, 550 Dorsey Rd. Founded in 1958 to help conserve, protect, maintain, and restore our natural resources and to promote our outdoor heritage. Visit FMI


* = New or updated item(s).