After 4 days skiing around the Gorman-Chairback lodge, it was time to head home. We had skied all the groomed trails. To explore more of Chairback Mountain, we would need telemark skis.
We enjoyed a last breakfast at the lodge. Then we packed up the cabin and placed our luggage in the shed labeled “winter parking.” We offered Isaac the short way back across Long Pond or the longer way with some ups and downs on Long Pond trail. Isaac picked an even longer route up Chairback Mountain Road and back down to Long Pond Trail on a fun cross over.
Off we skied up the now familiar mountain road. Today was another hot day with sloppy snow. At the beginning of the week, there was over 6 feet of snow on the ground. Now, it had melted down to 3 feet. The snow was so sloppy that not one of us picked up speed on the steep cross over.
The second part of the Long Pond Trail was new to us. This section was narrower and more trail like. It wasn’t a summertime access road or logging road. We skied through sections of recent logging, thick with birch tree bushes as tall as I could reach. In other places the forests were older. My Dad pointed out one pine tree “Isaac, look. There’s a Christmas tree way up there!” All the bottom branches had died off leaving a perfect cone of green needles 70 feet up. Mom, Tyson, and I each tried to distinguish the gray birch from paper birch. Yellow birches we had figured out.
We stopped for lunch at the outflow from Long Pond. Looking back across the pond, we saw the now familiar profile of Gulf Hagas Mountain, West Peak, and Hay Mountain.
From the outflow to the car, the trail is mostly uphill. Isaac kept asking why the car was above the lodge. I think he was hoping for a different answer. Once we rejoined the over-lake route, we saw other skiers. There was a steady trickle of people heading out. Farther along we met people heading in. Up, up, up we plodded. This was now Isaac’s longest cross country ski day. His legs were getting tired. Dad and I watched the sky cloud over. I wondered when the forecast afternoon rain would come. Yes rain, it was that warm.
Back on the KI road, we met the family of skijorers that we had encountered on Wednesday. They had covered many miles camping in Gulf Hagas. Their young kids still looked happy.
The Little Lyford luggage snowmobile passed us, and then it started to rain. Not a little drizzle you can ignore, but a steady soaking that sent us scrambling to don our rain gear. Isaac’s speed didn’t change. The mother from the skijoring family came back with a spare dog, but Tyson wasn’t sure if Isaac towed at dog speed would be a disaster, so he declined. After another half hour of plodding, we arrived back at the parking lot pond. 11 miles of skiing.
A wet and dreary end to a fun week. The AMC Maine woods is definitely a place worth skiing. Gorman lodge area has plenty of beginner trails, and some backcountry glades on Chairback Mountain. Little Lyford has more intermediate options. And both lodges have excellent hospitality.
Previous day‘s report.