My friend Diane and her husband Wessel recently visited Flagstaff Lake Hut, one of the huts that is part of Maine Huts & Trails. As a cross country skier, I was intrigued by her account of the two of them walking into the woods with all their cross country ski gear for a little winter getaway.
I want to do this! Though it will have to wait until next year at least.
I first heard about hut-to-hut hiking and skiing in Norway, where they have a good system of backwoods huts. I didn't know they also have them in Maine.
It seems to me like a really cool thing to do, hiking or skiing to a destination, rather than just taking a random hike or skiing for an hour then returning home. I like the idea of pushing toward a goal. It's why I also like week-long bike trips.
The huts I saw in Norway were quite spare. Diane says the hut they stayed at in Maine was more like a lodge, (although the photos on the site don't convey that.) Diane does say the bedrooms are quite spare. All the more reason not to hang out in them but to join others in the common room.
Dinner and breakfast are provided and there is heat and warm light, making for major comforts, despite being in the woods, and "off the grid."
What's great about it for solo travelers is the communal aspect of the place, Diane says. Meals are family style at tables of eight, so no dining solo.
"Outdoor lovers tend to be very inclusive, in general," she says. "They like to trade info on what they did that day." I've definitely experienced this at hostels and ski lodges. At Flagstaff Lake Hut, that often led to guests peering at a map on the wall together, discussing skiing or hiking routes.
In fact, Diane says, it's hard NOT to be social here.
So introverts, take note. "If you're more a want-to-be-left-alone type, this is probably not a great place to go. But if you want to chat about your day and likely find someone to play outside with, I highly recommend it."It would take a burst of courage for me to get all my gear together, make my way to Maine and ski in to the lodge by myself but you do-or-die skiers who don't have pals or S.O.'s to ski with, but pine to ski each winter, here's an option.
Photo: Wessel Kok. Flagstaff Lake Hut, Maine Huts and Trails.