In preparation for my first tour of the year, I lugged my new skis and boots out into the backyard and practiced getting in an out of my new Dynafit Beast 16 Bindings in the patchy snow. The 16 is essentially a rare beast, given its niche market, and two years in production followed by discontinuation. Why I’ve elected to use such an unusual apparatus is a story for another post – my intent here is to establish their rarity and my lack of familiarity with them. Indeed, upon picking them up mounted to my new skis from the shop, I had to be shown how to use them.
It’s been a while since I’ve been hiking, nearly a year since I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Maine, and even longer since I’ve been kayaking, so with these things in mind, Tripp and I hashed out a plan for a multi-day, multi-mode excursion in the Flagstaff Lake region.
Another New England classic, Tripp and I decided to hike Mansfield last weekend. The weather turned out to be excellent with almost no clouds at all and temps in the mid 60s. We got up at the crack of dawn, drove up via I93 to I89 and hit the trail at 11 AM. There are numerous parking areas in Smugglers Notch, providing easy access to the trails.
The plan: drive to Stratton, ME the coolest way possible, set up camp some place chill, kick back for the night and hit the trail early for a traverse of the Bigelow Range. The Bigelow Range is due north of Sugarloaf and is in fact where Sugarloaf was originally slated to be cut, however some civil engineers dammed up a river and created Flagstaff Lake where the base village was supposed to be. This nixed the ski resort plans and they picked Sugarloaf instead, but I digress. My point: Sugarloaf is awesome, so if the Bigelows were Plan A of that whole endeavor, they really must have something going for them. I gotta check this out. Details…