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THE MOUNTAIN

Fall/Winter 2018

CHALLENGE

COLLECTING MOUNTAIN HIKES AROUND MOOSEHEAD LAKE

BUILDING A BETTER

BACKPACK

AT MAINE’S HYPERLITE

START YOUR

ENGINES

SNOWMOBILING INSIGHTS

NEW FEATURES IN REVISED

‘MAINE MOUNTAIN GUIDE’


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Fall/Winter 2018

Stay fit when temperatures drop M

any animals hibernate throughout the

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

winter. Humans are afforded no such

says exercise can help boost your immune system,

luxury. In fact, living a sedentary

which can help you fight colds and flu symptoms. Just

lifestyle during the colder months of the

a few minutes of exercise each day can help prevent

year can actually prove detrimental to human health. Exercise is beneficial any time of the year, but it

Working out in the winter may help you burn

can be especially so during the winter months when

more calories than in warmer seasons. Research

colder temperatures force many people inside, where

published in Medicine & Science in Sports &

they live more sedentary lifestyles than they do

Exercise found that race times are faster in cold

during the rest of the year. Adapting your exercise

weather than in warmer temperatures. Quicker

habits in the winter can help you make it through the

runs or walks can burn more calories.

colder months in great shape.

C

simple viral and bacterial infections as well.

If exercising outdoors is too uncomfortable, break up

There is no reason to stop exercising when the

your routine into smaller, more manageable sessions. Aim

temperature drops. The American Heart Association

for 10 minute sessions several times per day. This quickly

says working out in the cold weather has distinct

can add up to the 30 minutes of daily recommended

advantages over working out in hot and humid

exercise. Dress in layers so you can feel comfortable,

conditions. When the weather is cold, you may be

adjusting your clothing as necessary. You don’t want to be

able to work out longer and harder because the heat

freezing, but you don’t want to wear so many clothes that

won’t zap your energy levels, and exercising outdoors

you start sweating and risk hypothermia.

in the winter is a great way to get small doses of

Consider less-traditional exercises when winter

sunlight that can improve mood and help your body

sets in. These include shoveling snow, sledding,

produce more vitamin D.

skating, skiing, and snowshoeing.

Practice pet safety this winter aring for pets is sometimes

less likely to venture outdoors. Dogs that

freeze and suffer permanent damage. Dogs

compared to raising children:

use the yard to relieve themselves often

and cats are safer and warmer indoors.

though the two are not exactly

cannot avoid the ice and snow. These

the same, there are similarities

conditions can put pets at risk.

Provide more water during the winter when the effort it takes for pets to keep

Salt and other chemicals used to melt

their bodies warm can quickly deplete their

snow and ice can irritate pet paws. When

energy stores. Compensate by giving pets a

between raising a child and caring for a

As with humans, animals are susceptible

the animal then licks irritated paws, the

little more food and water in the winter.

pet. Like curious kids, fearless pets may

to hypothermia and frostbite. When the

chemicals can be transferred to the tongue

Pets may be attracted to automotive

not understand the potential hazards

weather is cold, pets should not remain

and mouth. Rinse paws after dogs come

antifreeze due to its sweet smell and taste.

around them, and some of these dangers

outdoors without shelter for extended

in from walks, or use protective booties

But antifreeze can be toxic. Coolants and

differ depending on the season.

periods of time. The Humane Society of

to keep feet covered. Limit the amount of

antifreeze made with propylene glycol

During the winter season, cold weather

the United States advises that exposed skin

products you use to melt snow, opting for

are less toxic to pets, wildlife and even

and snow may make both pets and people

on noses, ears and paw pads can quickly

sand or cat litter for traction.

human beings.

PHOTO: ©BLAS/ADOBE STOCK


Fall/Winter 2018

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Fall/Winter 2018

THIS PUBLICATION WAS PRODUCED BY Bangor Daily News

PUBLISHER Richard Warren

SENIOR EDITOR, SPECIAL SECTIONS Matt Chabe

PRINT SALES MANAGER Todd McLeod

TO ADVERTISE IN MAINE OUTDOORS & ADVENTURE Contact Jeff Orcutt | jorcutt@bangordailynews.com 207-990-8036

CREATIVE SERVICES MANAGER Coralie Cross

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ABOUT THE COVER

Tktkt. PHOTO BY ROBIN CLIFFORD WOOD © 2018 Bangor Daily News. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without express written consent. Requests for permission to copy, reprint, or duplicate any content should be directed to advertising@bangordailynews.com

The trail around Mt. Kineo in Moosehead Lake.


Fall/Winter 2018

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The Road

less travelled At Moosehead Lake, the mountains issue a challenge STORY & PHOTOS BY ROBIN CLIFFORD WOOD

O

n a sparkling blue mid-July day,

time to spare before the return ferry. We bought

the great hulking whale of Mount

ice cream sandwiches at the golf clubhouse and

Kineo loomed steadily larger as

ate them on the dock in the afternoon sun, bare

we neared the island on the ferry

feet dangling deliciously in the lake.

shuttle, just launched from Rockwood, Maine on the western shore of Moosehead Lake.

Fantasy Island, indeed, I thought. Why in the world did it take me nearly forty years of

“Listen up, hikers,” said the captain over his

life in Maine, sixteen as a full-time resident,

PA system. The golfers on board had already

to make my first visit to Moosehead Lake and

received their instructions. Now he explained

Mount Kineo? Maybe it’s because the allure

the best way to enjoy a Mt. Kineo hike. Go up

of Maine’s coast, Acadia National Park, and

by way of the steep and picturesque Indian

the Baxter Park region have so dominated

Trail, climb the fire tower, then descend via

my attention. The state of Maine has an

the gentler Bridle Trail—easier on the knees.

abundance of

“It should take about two and a half hours,

but one of them seems to elude the biggest

round trip,” he said. As we pulled up to the

crowds. The Moosehead Lake region is the

dock, he concluded his patter:

road less traveled.

glorious outdoor settings,

“Okay, folks — welcome to Fantasy Island!”

It was Jean, a peak-bagging friend of mine,

It was no exaggeration. My hiking group—

who finally got me to Moosehead last summer.

four humans and one golden retriever—

She’d heard about an intriguing challenge

exceeded the predicted two and half hours,

called the Moosehead Pinnacle Pursuit, a

but only because every few yards of our ascent

six-mountain series around Moosehead Lake.

presented another jaw-dropping, postcard-like

Trying for all 67 New England 4000-footers—as

photo op. We clambered up the fire tower at the

Jean has done—feels daunting, but this was an

top for the 180-degree views and sweet breezes.

accessible goal. Plus, I looked forward to my

Back at the bottom, satisfyingly spent, we had

first introduction to the Moosehead region.


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Mt. Kineo looms in the distance as travelers ride the Rockwood ferry.

Fall/Winter 2018 The Moosehead Pinnacle Pursuit (MPP)

that seek greater intensity, there are sub-

was launched in 2016 by Angela Arno, a

categories: the MPP Ultra, for hikers who

former director of the Moosehead Lake Region

complete all six peaks in a 48-hour period;

Chamber of Commerce. The six-peak hiking

the MPP Winter challenge for all six ascents

challenge was inspired by a similar initiative in

in winter; and the MPP Winter Ultra, six

New York State’s Adirondacks. There is no time

peaks in winter in 48 hours. So far there are

restriction for completing the six ascents, but

118 standard challenge winners listed on the

your hikes must have taken place after the MPP

website, but I suspect there are many more

Challenge began in May of 2016. Once you have

who have finished the challenge but not the

completed the hikes, you send an application

paperwork. I met one of them leaving Mt.

form with your summit dates and times to the

Kineo as I was beginning. Carolyn Eaton and

Moosehead Chamber of Commerce. For a ten-

her hiking buddy were heading to Big Moose,

dollar fee, you are rewarded with a certificate

a two-peak day. They finished their sixth and

and patch, your name on the MPP website

final peak in mid-August. Eaton had hiked in

(mooseheadpinnaclepursuit.com),

Acadia and Baxter, she said, but hadn’t hiked

bragging

rights, and the satisfaction of supporting Maine’s

beautiful

and

underappreciated

Moosehead region. The Audubon Nature Center at Sunrise Pond sits partway up Borestone Mountain.

The six mountain hikes include Borestone, Big Moose, Eagle Rock, Whitecap, Number Four,

around Moosehead. “I was ready for a new area. There’s low crowds and low traffic. Also, for me, I like views of the water. Moosehead has that,” said Eaton. Another positive outcome of the MPP

and Kineo. The hikes range from 3.3 to 6.8 miles

initiative

and were chosen largely for their rewarding

trail work in the region. Erica Kaufman, a

is

collaborative

attention

to

views of Moosehead Lake and the surrounding

forestland steward for The Forest Society

area. They also cover a wide swath of territory

of Maine (FSM), said FSM has contributed

that will introduce participants to both the east

to efforts to identify and facilitate trail

and west sides of Moosehead Lake.

easements in the Moosehead area. Kaufman

Skye Lavigne, a Greenville native and

has also served as coordinator for a volunteer

employee at the Visitor Center, told me that

group called Moosehead Trails. They have

the idea of the program was to promote both

made improvements on several of the MPP

the Moosehead region and the hikes. It seems

trails and brought more attention to the hikes.

to be succeeding. There is something about

So far there are twenty-one names listed

a challenge that draws people in. For those

on the MPP website for “Ultra” completions

The Moosehead Lake Region Chamber of Commerce visitors center today hosts the fire tower that formerly sat atop Big Moose Mountain.


Fall/Winter 2018

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and four “Winters.” Some rugged hiker may well become the first “Winter Ultra” hiker in a few months. As for me, I had added Borestone and Big Moose to my list at the writing of this article, with hopes to finish the last three before the snow flies. Each mountain seems to have its own inner circle of fans. My personal favorite so far is Borestone. I loved the natural and human history on display at the Audubon Nature Center a mile up the trail. The summit views from both West and East peaks were stunning, including a bird’s eye view of the charming Sunrise, Midday, and Sunset Ponds. Nature Center guide, Eric Johnsen, calls them, “the string of pearls.” On the trail I met locals and summer folks with loyalty to a particular mountain. Each peak has its champions. In several cases, hikers were making their annual, ritual hike up their favorite peak. Big Moose has lake views and the foundations of an early fire tower. Kineo is a lot of reward for modest effort. White Cap and Eagle Rock are rugged and take time, but have the best payoff. Then there’s the elusive Number Four. What discoveries are in store for me there? Next time you want to get on the trail in Maine, consider the Moosehead Lake region—a road less traveled, but equally worth the trip.

Many of the peaks in the Moosehead Pinnacle Pursuit boast incredible views of Moosehead Lake.

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Fall/Winter 2018

Start your T

engines

Snowmobile insights from the MSA BY MATT CHABE

he winter season is almost upon us, and regardless of your feelings on the matter, there’s one segment of the population that’s assuredly excited: snowmobilers. According to Bob Meyers, the executive director of the Maine Snowmobile Association, the unofficial prognosis for the 2018/19 winter season is that it’s going to be a good one. “I think we’re on quite a roll right now,” he said. “We’ve had a couple of good years in a row. It’s been a nice, hot, dry summer, and so we hope that means we’ll have a cold, snowy winter. We’re ready to have at it again.” The Maine Snowmobile Association represents 289 snowmobile clubs across the state “from Sanford up to Allagash,” said Meyers. “And those clubs are the folks that maintain 14,500 miles of the finest snowmobile trails on Earth.” The Association itself has a trail committee that oversees Maine’s ITS trails. Meyers said the average snowmobiler can do his or her part to keep trails maintained by exercising common sense. Litter is a no-no, as is ripping up the trails or damaging them.

However, he said one of the biggest ways people can help maintain trails is to simply get involved: “We encourage everybody to get involved, to help on the trails if you can. At the very least, support your local clubs or the clubs where you ride because those are the people that make it all happen.” He also stressed the importance of respecting landowner rights: “Ninety-five percent of our trails are on private land. Landowner relations is a huge job. Everybody should be treating that land like it's their own when they're out there. Pick up after yourself, stay on the marked trail, and just respect their property.” Meyers also stressed the importance of safety when on the trail, especially in this age of powerful and technologically-advanced machines. “Absolutely never drink and ride,” he said. “That is very important. And keep to the right hand side of the trail at all times. Always be aware of your surroundings— you never know what’s going to be around the next corner, like a sled or a moose. Don’t ride alone.”


Fall/Winter 2018

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record of providing clean, renewable, and reliable energy to the people of Maine and New England. We are constantly working to be a responsible partner, committed to enhancing the recreational, cultural, and historic resources in the communities we operate. This includes working to highlight the natural beauty and recreational benefits of this great state.

Did you know Brookfield Renewable provides whitewater releases on the Penobscot, Androscoggin, Kennebec, and Dead River? We provide daily releases from May through Columbus Day on Class 2, 3, and 4 whitewater. Each year thousands of private and commercial paddlers enjoy Maine’s pristine waterways as a result of these scheduled releases. In addition, we provide recreational access to some of the New England’s best fly fishing

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An experienced developer, owner, and operator of renewable power facilities

locations including the Rangeley Lakes region renowned for their native Brook Trout. As owner and operator on the Penobscot, Kennebec, Androscoggin, and Saco River, Brookfield Renewable invites you to share the rivers safely. We provide real-time flows for our facilities via our waterflow website at h2oline.com. We will soon be launching a new and improved waterflow tool to provide you with real-time flows and elevations at your favorite facilities. Keep an eye out for more information!

Please remember, river systems are wonderful resources, but they can also be dangerous. Conditions can change quickly and without notice. Take precautions! While the waters above and below a dam may look safe, conditions below the surface can present serious risks. Be aware of your surroundings and observe all signage, warning signals, sirens, and barriers.


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Fall/Winter 2018


Fall/Winter 2018

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Fall/Winter 2018

Maine

Sporting camps For high adventure (with little sacrifice), check out Maine sporting camps

P

eople head to the Maine woods to “get away from it all” for lots of

are as varied as they are similar. Whether your interest is hunting,

reasons. Some want a private, remote experience. Others seek a

fishing, or just plain relaxing, there’s a camp for you. Some have

fun family vacation. Some want to rough it. And others desire a

power, running water, meals and guide services, while others tend to

wilderness experience with modern comforts.

be more rustic—but the core experience is similar.

No matter what the intent, the Maine woods is full of sporting camps

to meet every need. The experiences to be had at Maine sporting camps

Maine’s sporting camps and wilderness lodges are a historic tradition reaching back to the mid-1800s, when wealthy businessmen rode the then-new train from Boston to the remote Maine woods to hunt and fish. Today, Maine’s lodges offer rustic accommodations to sportsmen of all walks of life: fishermen and hunters; paddlers and hikers; friends, couples, and families. Most Maine sporting camps are family owned and are renowned for their warm hospitality. Some are rustic, without electricity or running water, while others offer modern conveniences. Some are nestled on lake fronts or rivers, some are tucked in the woods, and some are close to town. Many offer the traditional American plan, where sports are treated to three home-cooked meals per day, while others offer self-catering accommodations, known as the housekeeping plan.

Check out some of these fine camps, and start planning your next Maine woods adventure!

What will you do on your sporting camp vacation? Fishing Ice fishing Hiking Paddling Swimming Boating

Cross-country skiing Snowmobiling Bird hunting Bear hunting Moose hunting Deer hunting

Bird watching Wildlife watching Biking Photography

Learn more at mainesportingcamps.com.


Fall/Winter 2018

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Lodges cater to runners, yogis, and foodies Make memories with the family all year long at at edge of Katahdin Woods and Waters Matagamon Wilderness

A

Maine sporting camp typically conjures images of plaid flannel, guided hunts, and anglers. Interestingly enough, a new trend is emerging in the outdoor landscape, and it is changing the way visitors engage with the Maine woods. Ever wanted to do yoga next to a waterfall after a local guide makes bygone timbering history come to life on a hiking trail? If so, you are not alone. Even experienced outdoorspeople are increasingly likely to seek out a knowledgeable guide or search the internet for unique experiences off the beaten path. And they want to eat well, too! Places like Mt. Chase Lodge on Upper Shin Pond are poised to offer exactly the type of outdoor experiences these adventurers are looking for. Near the Katahdin Woods and Waters National

Monument, Mt. Chase Lodge has seen lots of interest in programs like their Endless Trails Runner’s Weekend, Wilderness Plein Air Retreats, and Women’s Skills Weekends. “Guests want to experience the area’s hidden gems that aren’t in a guidebook, and we think it takes the stress out of getaway planning if we provide that,” says Michelle Martin, one of the lodge’s Registered Maine Guides and yoga instructor. “Being able to enrich someone’sexperience of a place—that’s key.” Outdoorspeople these days tend to agree. Guided offerings, pre-planned programs, and excellent prix fixe gourmet dining set lodges like Mt. Chase Lodge apart. This willingness to adapt and change keeps the Maine sporting camp tradition alive, vibrant, and relevant to today’s outdoor enthusiasts.

M

atagamon Wilderness in T6-R8 is a family owned and operated business, nestled along the East Branch of the Penobscot River and at the outlet of Grand Lake Matagamon. We are a four-season business, with six cozy cabins, wilderness campsites, and Momma Bears’ Kitchen to fulfill all your needs. During the cold months, enjoy snowmobiling with ITS85 right outside our door. Ice fishing on Grand Lake Matagamon is great for all ages (if you get too cold, we have heated ice fishing shacks for rent). Enjoy skiing? Come try some of our local ski trails. Shuttle service is available upon request. In the spring and fall, the river is excellent for fishing native brook trout and landlock salmon, and in the lake you can

also fish for lake trout. We provide guided fishing trips and boat, canoe, and kayak rentals and pontoon boat tours. Interested in fly fishing but haven’t yet learned? We offer fly fishing school, as well as a spring bear hunt on Penobscot Indian territory. Our area is great for hiking as we are surrounded by many hiking trails. If you get too hot, jump on a tube and float down the river. In the fall we provide a variety of guided hunts including black bear, whitetailed deer, moose, partridge, and coyote. At Matagamon, we strive to make your stay with us an unforgettable experience. When you leave us, we hope you feel like you’re “part of our family.” Come make memories with us!


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Fall/Winter 2018

A

re you seeking a new kind of adventure in Maine? Visit Shin Pond Village and 201 Powersports for the ride of a lifetime. As certified Polaris Adventures Outfitters, these premium locations offer an exciting way to explore each season as you discover The Pine Tree State off the beaten path. Hop in the driver’s seat

of a brand-new, state-of-the-art Polaris RZR or snowmobile and get ready to soak in the fall and winter views like never before.

Shin Pond Village

201 Powersports

Shin Pond Village, a 100-acre, family owned

Head south to 201 Powersports where epic

and operated resort is nestled in the heart of

adventures await! Located in the historic

Katahdin Region. Offering an array of lodging

town of Bingham, Maine for over 15 years, 201

and recreational activities for adventure

Powersports has provided outdoor experiences

enthusiasts, this exclusive destination is fully

with Polaris RZRs in the warmer seasons, to

equipped with a fleet of state-of-the-art Polaris

snowmobile tours in the winter. Choose your

RZRs so you are free to explore the beautiful

vehicle and route and 201 Powersports will

fall colors. Elevate your off-road experience to

take care of the rest! Guided and unguided

a whole new level and settle in for a few days.

tours are offered whether you want to day trip

shinpond.com

201powersports.com

on your own or venture out on a multi-day trip for a firsthand experience of the different terrains and vehicles. With over 6,500 miles of connected ATV trails and 13,000 miles of snowmobile trails, you will be surrounded by breathtaking views year-round. As the snow begins to fall, 201 Powersports offers snowy explorations sure to impress everyone from new riders to the most skilled snowmobilers. With campsites located on the brook, electric

Add more to your visit with other close-by

RV sites, cottages, guest suites and waterfront

options such as hiking, kayaking, fishing,

homes, you and your group will have everything

rock climbing, pontoon cruises, white water

you need at this countryside escape. When the

rafting, and more.

seasons change, and the snow begins to fall, Shin Pond Village revs up the engines on their top-notch Polaris snowmobiles. With access to hundreds of miles of trails, snowmobilers are ready to shred some powder and reach the untouched snow of Mt. Chase, Maine. Located just fifteen miles from the Northern entrance to Baxter State Park, Shin Pond Village offers four seasons of fun with great fishing, uncrowded hiking, and plenty of wildlife. Buckle up and get ready to discover the mountains, lakes and wildlife in northern Maine! Both destinations encompass some of the most spectacular scenery that is a must see in Maine this year. Adventures offered by Shin Pond Village and 201 Powersports cater to all skilllevels—from novice riders to the most experienced off-roaders—all you need is a passion for exploration of the great outdoors. Get ready for memories that will last a lifetime!


Fall/Winter 2018

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Fall/Winter 2018

New ‘Maine Mountain Guide’ features more than ever before

A

BY AISLINN SARNACKI

“Why have a guidebook if you can’t give people

Crocker Mountain to the top of Mount Reddington.

n essential tool for hiking enthusiasts,

some perspective on where they’re going and why

Though it’s not an official trail, Kish felt it was

the newest edition of the “AMC Maine

they’re doing it?” Kish said.

important to include in the guide because so many

Mountain Guide” features more trails

A registered Maine guide, Kish grew up exploring

hikers use the path each year to bag Redington,

than ever before. Compiled and edited

the Maine woods and has completed some two-dozen

which is one of Maine’s 4,000-footers (mountains that

by avid hiker Carey Kish of Mount Desert, the 11th

long-distance trails in the United States, Canada and

reach 4,000 feet above sea level or higher) and top 100

edition of the guidebook describes more than 625

Europe, including the 2,189-mile Appalachian Trail—

tallest mountains.

trails on 300 Maine mountains.

twice. In addition to two editions of “AMC Maine

The new Rainbow Loop Trail, which officially

Mountain Guide,” Kish is the author of “AMC’s

opened last July in Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness

“The thing is just beefy,” Kish said. “It really surprises even me.”

Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast,” and he’s a

Area, is another addition to the guide, as are the

Appalachian Mountain Club published its first

longtime columnist for the Portland Press Herald

trails in the new Katahdin Woods and Waters

edition of the guide in 1961, and the resource has

and writes the outdoor adventure blog “Maineiac

National Monument and the little-known Number

been updated and expanded periodically ever since.

Outdoors” at MaineToday.com.

Five Mountain in Somerset County.

The new edition was released Aug. 7. “Everyone’s going to ask, ‘What’s new? Why buy this one?’ At least, I would ask that,” Kish said.

“I’m a longtime detective—a trail detective,” Kish

“It’s an extraordinary hike,” Kish said of Number

said. “Seriously. I just keep looking. I take notes. I

Five Mountain. “It has an old fire tower trail, and it

follow Facebook and search the internet. I’m always

was on private land before so it was never in the book.”

For starters, the new edition features more than

looking to see if there’s something new, and this

The mountain and trail are now located on The

175 “new” trails on 50 mountains that were not

time around [in writing the 11th edition of the “AMC

Nature Conservancy’s 16,934-acre Leuthold Forest

included in the previous edition of the guidebook,

Maine Mountain Guide”], I just couldn’t believe it.”

Preserve, where public recreation is free.

published in 2012 and also edited by Kish. Old trail

When asked to give a few examples of the new

In addition to exploring dozens of new trails for

descriptions have been improved, Kish said, and

content in the 590-page guide, Kish instantly thought

the guidebook, Kish revisited trails described in past

some sections of the book have been completely

of Deboullie Public Reserved Land in Aroostook

editions of the guide to update and improve descriptions.

overhauled with new information.

County, where the Maine Conservation Corps has

For example, he spent three days documenting the

been hard at work creating trails in recent years.

extensive trail network on Mount Agamenticus in

The new edition also features updated fold-out trail maps for Baxter State Park, the Maine North

“The Maine Conservation Corps got in there and

southern Maine, and he spent another two days

Woods, the Bigelow Range, Camden Hills, Mount

now there’s 30 miles of trails, just like that,” Kish

wandering Bradbury Mountain State Park, which

Desert Island and the Mahoosuc Range. And for the

said. “I spent three days hiking all 30 miles of trail two

features a small but popular mountain, surrounded by a

first time, the guidebook features 17 in-text trail maps

Septembers ago, and I was the only person up there. It’s

network of trails that see heavy use year round.

of other areas that have a high density of trails.

like a little Baxter State Park with no people. It’s out

The guide is sold at many bookstores and outfitters

of this world. There’s backpacking and car camping

throughout Maine, and it’s available for purchase

and no people. It was kind of creepy actually.”

through the AMC online store at amcstore.outdoors.org.

Kish also rewrote the introductory section of the book, which includes informative, succinct essays on a wide variety of hiking-related topics

Another trail added to the new edition of the

from fire towers and poison ivy to the state’s

guide is the unofficial herd path (not marked or

geology, climate and vegetation.

maintained) that runs from the summit of South

This story originally appeared in the Bangor Daily News July 30, 2018.


Fall/Winter 2018

(Below) Carey Kish stands atop Number Five Mountain in Somerset County while doing research for the 11th edition of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide. (Right) The 11th edition of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide. COURTESY OF APPALACHIAN MOUNTAIN CLUB

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Fall/Winter 2018

Building a

better backpack

Maine’s Hyperlite makes light gear for the outdoor crowd BY ALAN CROWELL

L

ong distance hikers know that to travel far, it helps to travel light.

It means creating a leaner kind of manufacturing company, one driven by a bottom-up ap-

When Mike St. Pierre started

proach in which empowered workers need little

Hyperlite Mountain Gear in 2009

management because they see their own inter-

with his brother Dan, the goal was to make

ests and those of the company as intertwined.

the strongest, lightest gear for long distance

It is an ambitious goal, but for St. Pierre,

hikers using American-made high-tech fabric.

life has always been about following passions.

Eight years later, Hyperlite has grown

Before Hyperlite, Mike worked for many years

from one employee to more than 60 and

as an audio engineer, including several years

during a recent visit to the manufacturer in

mixing sound for the Eagles. When he tired of

Biddeford’s historic Pepperell Mill campus,

living on buses, he followed a life-long love of

the whine of power equipment testified to its

food into restaurants, working as a chef for some

continuing expansion.

of Maine and New York’s most famous eateries.

Mike believes Hyperlite has the potential to

But when the popularity of fine dining nose-

be the next Patagonia (a sustainable clothing

dived along with the Dow Jones in 2008, Mike

manufacturer with estimated revenues of

found himself spending more time outdoors

over $200 million in 2017) but achieving

and he began looking for lighter equipment

that kind of growth will take more than

that would allow him to move faster on the trail.

renovations to the factory floor.

Unable to find what he was looking for, he began experimenting with creating his own gear.

Mike St. Pierre, founder of Hyperlite Mountain Gear, on the company’s manufacturing floor in Biddeford’s Pepperell Campus. Mike is holding a sheet of the high-strength, waterproof composite fabric used to make his company’s packs. PHOTO BY ALAN CROWELL

During one of those first trips, he ran into a park ranger who was walking out of a trail

world’s tallest mountains and across some of the world’s most rugged terrain.

One day he discovered a composite fabric made

just as he was walking in. She asked him

While the supporting cast has expanded,

by Cuben Fiber Hybrids (now Dyneema) which

where he was going. When he outlined an

at its core Hyperlite is still Mike as the chief

made a waterproof textile that was incredibly

ambitious hike that included several far-off

visionary and product developer, Dan the

strong, but light enough to float on water.

peaks, she told him he could not possibly be

Chief Financial Officer, and Provencal as the

carrying enough to safely make that trip.

fastest sewer and trainer.

He called the manufacturer and bought nine meters and began putting together ultralight,

Before she allowed him to continue, she

The ultimate goal is to create a system that is

waterproof equipment. When he developed a

made him prove his case by showing her his

so light and well-designed that after a few days

system, including a pack and a shelter, he hit

home-made gear.

on the trail the pack begins to disappear as a

the trail to test it.

After creating a financial plan for the new

burden or impediment to enjoying the outdoors.

company with his brother Dan, a graduate of the

“We refine it, get it back out in the field.

Wharton School of Business, they started creat-

Refine it, get it back out in the field. Refine it,

ing their first product line in 800 square feet of

get it back out in the field,” said Mike. “To me,

leased space in the Pepperell Campus in 2010.

it is all about function. It has got to work. A lot

They had one employee, Francine Provencal,

of the industry is driven by cost. We say, ‘How

who had worked in Maine’s now defunct textile

do we build the best possible product, and the

industry putting together men’s suits.

price is what the price is.’”

Together, Mike and Francine put together

He knows a product is ready for the market

the first prototypes. Mike trail-tested them, and

when he is out in the field and forgets it’s there.

when they were ready, sent them to other hikers

“Once we get there with these products, when

who put tens of thousands of miles on those

you are out using them, you don’t think about

first prototypes before they went to production.

them anymore – kind of like that Zen moment.”

Today,

Hyperlite

has

more

than

60

Being outdoors is an antidote for a world

employees and growing. The product line has

that has become overly fixated on technology

expanded to include tents, a range of packs,

and social media.

tarps, stuff sacks, and even outerwear. Hikers

“We are all kind of head down and glued

and climbers carry Hyperlite packs up the

to our phones,” said Mike. “Getting out


Fall/Winter 2018

bangordailynews.com

BDN OUTDOORS

19

there and doing this stuff takes you away

There are meetings every Tuesday at

quality issue, all I have to do is whistle,” said

“We have lost a generation of machine

from that. It removes you from the hectic

7:30 a.m. that include updates from every

Schafer. “We all get together and we discuss it

operators. It is not just in the cut and sew trade.

lifestyle that we have and puts you in a

department followed by a question and

right then and there.”

It is in all manufacturing trades,” said Schafer.

more simplified environment. That benefits

answer period. All employees are also

At 67, Schafer has been in manufacturing

“Not only do we have to build manufacturing

almost everybody.”

surveyed twice a year to help spotlight

for 45 years, with most of that time working

systems from the ground up, we have to build a

areas that need improvement, and employee

for the Norton Company (now Norton

workforce that goes along with it.”

feedback is used to come up with solutions.

Abrasives), the world’s largest manufacturer

Making products in the United States allows the company to stay closer to its customers and employees.

Eventually, St Pierre said his goal is for the

of commercial and household abrasives.

Confronting that challenge has meant creating a new playbook, and finding new

Mike and his operations manager John

company to run with a minimum of managers

As an engineer for the Norton Company,

partners, like Dory Waxman, owner of Old

Schaefer are considering installing automation

and with a philosophy that rewards workers

Schafer worked in South Africa, France, Brazil,

Port Wool and Textile Co., who is facilitating

equipment, but what they aren’t considering is

and empowers them.

and Mexico as well as in the United States.

a program that trains immigrants to work in

offshoring jobs to overseas.

In an age when reviews make or break prod-

After retiring twice, including once from

“I want to prove that we can be an

uct lines, having your manufacturing floor,

the Hussey Seating Company in North

Schafer said Hyperlite has hired workers

American manufacturer,” said Mike. “We

customer service department, development

Berwick, Schafer came to work for Mike and

from Iraq, Zaire, Angola, and other countries.

want to do this here. My stance is that this

department, and marketing department in

Dan at Hyperlite.

country became great because we knew how

one building is a real advantage.

to manufacture things.”

the textile industry.

All employees are hired by the team that

“I saw the opportunity that Hyperlite

they will be working with, said Schafer. He

Mike said that if customer service receives

offered and I can tell you that this is going to

Despite the benefits, however, manufacturing

complaints that the belt pocket on a pack is too

be the crown jewel of my career,” said Schafer.

They have to be kind and respectful of one

in Maine has been a challenge from the begin-

small, that change can be made quickly, with

The new company offers the veteran

another. And they have to be as excited to work

ning. When Dan and Mike St. Pierre moved

the new improved packs shipping out in days.

engineer a chance to use four decades of

into their space in Biddeford, they hoped there

If there is a quality issue, that too can be

experience to build Hyperlite’s manufacturing

would be a pool of former textile mill workers available for hire.

fixed in a matter of hours.

systems from the ground up, he said.

John Schafer, director of operations at

After watching for much of his career as

What they soon discovered, however, was

Hyperlite Mountain Gear, said that if there

manufacturers chased cheaper labor overseas,

that those workers had mostly retired or

is a problem, he can bring production to a

Schafer said he is excited to be a part of a

moved on.

standstill in seconds.

resurgence

Today, they are trying to recreate that industry

“I don’t have an office. My table is right

by enlisting the help of experienced people like

down here on this floor. If I have to resolve a

Francine to teach younger employees. The workforce has changed, however, as has the work ethic. Mike’s goal is to address those changes by creating a new company culture in which employees are motivated to help Hyperlite achieve its goals because they see their own wellbeing as linked to the success of the company. It is a long-term goal, but Mike said the company is committed to building that company by paying workers a livable wage, giving them more freedom to determine when they work, and offering them transparency.

in

American

tells them he has just two criteria:

for Hyperlite as Schafer is himself, he says. When it comes to that last criteria, Schafer has set a very high bar. After having retired twice already at the age of 67, he has no plans to leave Hyperlite. “I want to keep this place going,” he said.

manufacturing,

“I have never been in a position that has

although he admitted that finding the skilled and

been more exciting or rewarding to me in

motivated employees he needs is a challenge.

my career.


20

BDN OUTDOORS

bangordailynews.com

Fall/Winter 2018

The mountains are calling —and you must go!

R

COURTESY ACADIA MOUNTAIN GUIDES CLIMBING SCHOOL

each the summit of Maine—in winter! At 5,268 feet, Mount Katahdin is the state’s highest peak. The remote and wild beauty of the mountain provide some of the most challenging backcountry skiing and climbing terrain in New England. Reaching the summit at any time of year is an accomplishment, but in the winter it holds a little more magic—and a lot less people. The remote location, arctic environment, and rugged terrain make climbing Katahdin one of the most rewarding winter alpine ascents around. Fortunately for brave souls everywhere, the Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School (AMGCS) offers open enrollment weekend summit climbs throughout the winter. Trips are also available by private arrangement and are led by experienced winter mountaineering guides. Hiring a guide can make a winter trip significantly more relaxing and rewarding—and will increase your odds of reaching the summit. Climbing Katahdin in winter is a physically demanding trip, but requires no previous winter climbing or camping ex-

perience when accompanied by a professionally-trained guide. AMGCS provides all technical equipment on their climbs including mountaineering boots, snowshoes, crampons and ice axe. They also have -20 degree sleeping bags available to rent. The weekend trip includes two hot backcountry meals. A typical weekend begins at Acadia Mountain Guides’ Orono gear shop, where a guide ensures you’re equipped with the appropriate personal and group gear prior to heading north. Upon arrival at the mountain, you’ll begin the approach with a half-day ski or snowshoe to a winter camp at the base. Your guide prepares a meal to fuel the next day’s summit attempt. After dinner, the guide teaches winter travel, camping, and climbing skills and helps you settle into camp in anticipation of an early morning start. The following morning, your guide leads the way toward the summit, teaching mountaineering skills as needed. Route conditions can vary greatly. From icy rock, to deep snow, to icy, semi-technical snow, your guide will ensure you’re outfitted with the appropriate equipment. After

climbing to the summit and descending back to camp, the party makes the final push back to the trailhead by early evening to complete a challenging day. Jon Tierney, AMGCS’s owner and a LifeFlight paramedic, has taught wilderness medicine for over three decades. He guides international climbing and skiing trips, provides mentorship for guides across the nation, and serves as the educational director for the Professional Climbing Instructors Association. AMGCS has been continually accredited and peer reviewed by the American Mountain Guides Association since 1993. For more information, visit AlpenglowGear.com or contact AMG at climb@acadiamountainguides.com or 207-866-7562.

Profile for Bangor Daily News

Maine Outdoors & Adventure - Fall/Winter 2018  

Maine Outdoors & Adventure - Fall/Winter 2018  

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