[March 10, 2019]
Participants in the 2019 Warm Winter Weekend, including Friends members and BSP staff, enjoying some social time before dinner
The twelfth annual Warm Winter Weekend occurred during St. Patrick’s Day weekend at New England Outdoor Center (NEOC) overlooking Millinocket Lake and Katahdin. Thirty Friends members took part in this event. Thursday was a beaut! Early arrivals very quickly donned their cross-country skis and snowshoes to enjoy the warm weather and the wonderful conditions on the groomed trails provided by Matt Polstein and his intrepid crew. Everyone worked up a great appetite to enjoy the evening’s offerings of chili – both vegetarian and carnivore – and fish chowder, with tasty hors d’oeuvres and green salad followed by a raft of desserts. After dinner conversations took the place of any planned activity as new and old friendships were made and enriched. Friday’s weather dictated a different type of activity as plans to enter the Park and the Debsconeag Wilderness were put on hold. Instead, short ski trips at NEOC between showers and drizzle were the order of the day. Enjoying Roger Zimmerman’s ages old sourdough starter for pancakes got everyone off to a great start. A few people ventured into Millinocket for a variety of reasons. Most of us just enjoyed a day of leisure that included reading and a maddeningly difficult jigsaw puzzle of the Appalachian Trail from start to finish.
Anne Huntington again treated us to a wonderful meal of turkey potpie with all the fixings. Members contributed the appetizers and desserts including fresh Cape Cod oysters gathered by Doug Payson, one of our new members. The evening program was an informal address by Matt DeLaney, librarian at the Millinocket Memorial Library. Matt is a very dynamic young man who has brought the library from the edge of extinction to renewed vitality. His message was a model for what many of us hope will be a rejuvenation of this great town. Saturday found a caravan of vehicles headed for the newly opened Penobscot River Trails on the Grindstone Road just south of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. The weather was cooperative.
The Butler Foundation has invested millions of dollars into creating a truly world-class outdoor education center on the banks of the East Branch of the Penobscot River. Children from all over northern Maine will now have the opportunity to learn outdoor skills and sports at no cost to them or their schools except transportation to the facility.This program has been ongoing for a number of years and now has its own home. The fifteen miles of trails are easy to ski and to enjoy the scenic nature of the winter river. Members watched three otters playing on the banks of the river. One or two deer were also spotted. The warming huts on this trail are worthy of any trail system in the world. The evening program after our buffet banquet at the River Driver’s Restaurant was our annual chance to meet and hear the Director of Baxter State Park, Eben Sypitkowski. He reminded us all that Baxter is our park and as such we need to share our love of it with the next generation.
Other guests at the banquet were Baxter Ranger Dave Loome and his wife Anna, and our Executive Director Aaron Megquier. Anne Huntington gave Eben a framed copy of a photo she had taken last fall that she had also presented to the members of the Baxter State Park Authority. Past president Barbara Bentley affectionately presented Howard Whitcomb with an empty wine bottle whose label was especially created for Warm Winter Weekend 2012 by Jim St. Pierre. Howard has attended eleven of the twelve Warm Winter Weekends to date, a record we hope he will continue to add to in coming years. Sunday found some of us headed into the Park for a last ski while others headed home. The skiing at NEOC was terrific all weekend despite some very warm temperatures. One never knows what the future will bring.
Reservations for next year’s event on March 12-15, 2020, should be kept in mind for anyone who enjoys Baxter Park in the winter as well as central heating and comfortable, warm beds!