Best in Snow: Backcountry Expeditions

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Maine Coast Semester students just returned from wintry backcountry expeditions – a highlight of the semester experience. Trips visited five locations throughout Maine and New Hampshire, and each brought back a camera full of images documenting their journey. Which is Best is Snow? We’ll let you be the judge.

1. Our first trip group traveled to New Hampshire to explore the Pemigewasset Wilderness via snowshoes.

They stayed in the American Camping Association’s Zealand Falls Hut and explored Lonesome Lake. Trip leader Julia Siegel says visibility was low when the group arrived, and the fog/clouds lingered until after nightfall. “ “When we woke up in the morning, the sun was shining, and we could see the gorgeous White Mountains around us! It was a great way to start our day.”

Semester Science Faculty Chloe Chen-Kraus, also on the trip, says, “the super snowy landscape with beautiful Franconia Ridge as a backdrop was stunning. We also saw fantastic animal tracks, including snowshoe hare, marten, and ermine! 

2. Our second group snowshoed a section of the Appalachian Trail near Monson, ME, and stayed in a Bowdoin College Outing Club cabin

Semester fellow and trip leader Tara Krantz says the group was fortunate to be surrounded by deep snow and identified moose tracks and nuthatch calls. “We had innumerable snowball fights crossing frozen ponds and even built a seven-foot-tall snowman!” Tara continues. The group kept each other motivated by singing favorite songs by Queen, the Killers, and Taylor Swift. 

3 & 4. Our third and fourth groups visited the Maine Huts & Trails system for cross-country skiing expeditions.

The huts are our off-the-grid eco lodges situated along an 80-mile trail system. One group started at Poplar Hut and the other at Stratton Brook. 

Katie Curtis, Semester math teacher, says, “a highlight of the Poplar trip was how encouraging students were of each other.” Students cheered each other on as they navigated tricky trail sections and helped each other when someone fell. “This was particularly true when we skied down a snowshoe trail to a frozen waterfall. There were many trees to avoid, sharp curves, and a deep power,” Katie continues. “Instead of getting stressed, students supported each other and celebrated their collective hard work in improving their outdoor skills.

5. Our fifth group explored Wood Cove near Jackman, ME, on skis and snowshoes.

This group voted to go on a nighttime snowshoe across Wood Pond with trip leader Kaylan Scott and teachers Liz Burroughs and Jonathan Larner-Lewis. “The moonlight was so bright we could see without our headlamps,” Kaylan says. “It had been snowing all day, and the trees were fully laden with fluffy snow. Everything was quiet and magical.”

Kaylan says her group also built a quinzee which three students slept in! A quinzee is a dug-out snow structure that captures heat and insulates inhabitants from the wind.

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