25 February 2008

The Moulton Journal: Springtime in February?

Wow, it's been a hectic week. The return trip from Orono, Maine, class projects heating up & students needing help, faculty union-related business, participating in the Poetry Palooza at the Venus Rising Cafe (hosted by the Butte Silver Bow Arts Foundation, see http://www.bsbarts.org/)... It all makes me glad for cross country skiing, which provides a regular link to nature and an aerobic workout where the stress slides away like snow on a steep metal roof.

I packed my Fischer E99s (the SUV of cross country skis) to Orono, and had a few delightful mornings on the 25 km of trails that loop around the edges of the University of Maine campus. Here's one trailhead next to the athletic fields:

The trails are very flat compared with Montana skiing, and they are extremely well maintained. Lots of white-tailed deer and a few moose. Though a little wide for my tastes, what an asset to have in your college backyard! They get used a lot--cross country skiing is far more popular in Maine than in Montana. Most every town (Bangor, Old Town, etc) seems to have its own trail system, and there are connecting trails so that you can ski from point-to-point most anywhere in the state, it seems.

The weather was truly Maniacal: perfect snow and 25 deg F one morning, rain and slush the next morning, -5 deg F with fresh snow on ice the next... For an Allegheny Mountain boy like me, though, it was a joy to ski amid the mixed hemlock/white pine/hardwood forest. Few trees are more beautiful than the graceful hemlock with its gentle boughs:

Or the beech still clinging to its leaves in the middle of winter:

Back at The Moulton, weather was very spring-like last week. The snow on Big Flat (aka Moonlight Flat) set up firmly, making it possible to tour about anywhere you cared to go. So long as you were out in the open and not in the woods, the snow would hold you up. For skiers new to The Moulton, Big Flat can be reached from the south end of Neversweat or from where the meadow crosses Claim Jumper. The trails lie just to the east of Big Flat, and you're never more than a hundred yards or two away from the trails. Here's RTD, trying to catch up:

Our mid-elevation hills are often big open parks on the south and west slopes. The combination of wind and sun simply make these areas too dry for trees. I love the wide open space of Big Flat, and the panoramic views of the various mountain ranges that encircle Butte. Here's the view to the Butte Flats, airport, and Highland Mtns:

And the Pintler Range:

And Mt Powell, down the Clark Fork River valley near Deer Lodge:

Winter has returned, with six inches or so of snow overnight. It was icy and warm to begin with, but quickly settled into fluffy powder. Ski on!


The Moulton: Montana's Finest Cross Country Skiing Area

1 comment:

Editor said...

I do love the snow covered vistas that you show. thanks.