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CC's Outdoor Journal; Enjoying the adventure
I’m so excited to share with you that two of my friends recently joined me and we finally made it to the Grand Falls Hut! An adventure that began in 2011, is now complete, as I’ve had the pleasure of visiting all four of the huts in the Maine Huts & Trails’ system.
I have met some amazing people, seen spectacular views of our great state and pushed myself further than I ever have before. I’ve had some fabulous adventures.
This time around I have to give a shout out to Darren and Laurie Boivin and their family. You see, my friend MJ had hurt her knee in a sledding accident the weekend before this trip and we didn’t want to see her have to stay home.
This being our hut-to-hut from Grand Falls to Flagstaff, I called the Boivins, who also work for MH&T, and told them our dilemma. They didn’t bat an eyelash at the thought of shuttling MJ between trailheads and huts. What great friends we have made with this family.
On the morning of our arrival at the Big Eddy trailhead, we were all counting our blessings that the rain we had the day before had come to an end and the next couple days promised cooler temperatures that would make for some great cross country skiing.
This time around we decided to ski instead of snowshoe. With the warmer temperatures we were dreading the 12-mile, hut-to-hut distance on snowshoes, with snow clumping to the bottoms, that wasn’t real appealing.
My other friend, Sue, would go the distance with me, while MJ took up the shotgun seat of the snowmobile, with our gear being towed behind for the three-day adventure.
The Big Eddy trailhead was easy to find, we just had to keep traveling the Long Falls Dam Road, for what seemed like forever, until we came to a bridge crossing the Dead River, with a snowmobile trail on the other side. We had just enough time to take some great shots of the rushing water before Darren showed up on his snowmobile.
You see, Darren and Laurie, originally of Rumford, moved their family out to the woods for a simpler life after they volunteered their time down south in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
If there was one thing MJ, Sue and I learned during this trip, it’s this, Darren and Laurie Boivin may have moved their family from Rumford to the middle of the woods to take up a simpler way of life, but they have, by no means, lost their sense of community or family. They, along with their daughters, Dawn and Amy, and son, Mark, are absolute angels.
Darren offered to give us a tour of his home and their life, so Sue jumped on the machine with MJ and our chauffeur, and I took up a very comfy seat in the dog sled with the gear. As far as I was concerned, I had the best seat in the house. And, we wouldn’t have to ski the eight miles in, and we would cut off two miles the next day on the way to Flagstaff.
As we made our way through the woods a few miles to the Boivin residence, I could only think of how absolutely blessed we all were to have friends who would go out of their way like this to help us. Did I mention that it was Darren’s day off? But, it was no big deal to him.
Their home, in the middle of the woods, open to snowmobilers looking for a light meal before venturing further on their journey, one old camper for their goat, and another for their turkey and chickens, the family couldn’t have been more welcoming and content with their surroundings.
We were so humbled by their graciousness to show us around, show us their electrical system, their beautiful fireplace built by Darren’s dad, Arthur, with rocks and stones collected from all over the world. What a blessed space they have created for themselves.
Following our tour, we all piled onto two snowmobiles for our journey into Grand Falls Hut. With great tour guides in Darren and Laurie, we were able to get a little history on the area, stopped at Grand Falls for a gander and photo opps, and then on to the hut.
Overlooking a beautiful range of mountains with an eagle soaring above, listening to the falls from the covered porch connecting the bunk rooms to the main hut, Grand Falls felt majestic. We had arrived.
Sue and I were excited to get on our skis and go explore, while MJ spent some time getting to know Amy, who was volunteering at the hut for the afternoon. It turns out, they both have a love of horses.
Being out on the trails, Sue and I laughed, talked, I fell a time or two getting used to my skis, after not using them all winter, and we enjoyed our time. It was such a blessing to have Sue with me, especially, since MJ was not able to ski. On our way back from our four-mile tour, we met up with MJ and Amy out for a walk. We were all enjoying ourselves.
As is customary at all the huts, we enjoyed an absolutely delicious, family-style meal prepared by Dawn, Amy and our hut master, Ellen. As the other two guests, the Boivins, MJ, Sue and I savored the scrumptious soup, corn bread, pasta with veggies and blueberry cobbler for dessert, we got to know one another. It was a great evening.
We were all ready to retire early, as our full bellies were allowing the day to catch up with us. As far as I was concerned, our Grand Falls bunk room was, by far, the most comfortable of all the huts. It was a wonderful nights sleep.
As the sun peeked up over the mountain, we all gathered our things and prepared for our day’s journey to Flagstaff Hut. MJ on the snowmobile with the Boivins, and Sue and I on our skis for the eight-mile journey back to the Big Eddy.
We followed the beautifully-groomed trails through the woods, over several bridges, along the river, all the while talking, laughing, stopping for our mouth-watering lunch prepared by Ellen; we knew how blessed we were.
Meeting at the Big Eddy afforded us a break from eight miles of skiing as we drove to the Long Falls Dam Road trailhead to access the last 1.8-mile ski to Flagstaff Hut. And, on our way in, guess who we met up with, MJ. Yes, coming around a corner, there was our friend, all smiles, camera at the ready. She was excited to be able to get out on the trails and join us. Even though she had enjoyed her day visiting with the Boivin girls and her ride to Flagstaff, it was good to be together again.
After a long day of skiing, we enjoyed a glorious view of the Bigelows, another amazing meal with nine other guests and a relaxing evening by the fire. It was an amazing day.
Our adventure was winding down, it’s always a little sad to see them come to a close. We anticipate them for, well, sometimes months at a time, and then, in the blink of an eye, they fly by. This is why each of us is learning, more and more each time, to be mindful of where you are. Appreciate what you’re doing at this very moment. Take it in and make an emotional attachment to the adventure.
I couldn’t have picked two better friends to join me on this trip. It was exactly what it was supposed to be, with the exact people who were supposed to be with me. My life has been truly blessed by all my friends who enjoy adventuring with me.
I look forward to the next ones, but for now, I’m basking in the present.