Snowshoe to Stratton Brook by Pam G. Wheeler

I had a wonderful snowshoe hike to Stratton Brook Hut this weekend with my guest, Heather Dunbar. We did have to confer in the morning, both adding a wind layer, after assessing the bitter forecast. What I love about winter in Maine though, no matter how reluctant I may feel looking out the window, is the tonic that awaits outdoors.

And so it was for the 19 of us, similarly bundled and shivering, who met at the trailhead Saturday. We snowshoed four brisk miles up the ice-glazed Oakbrook trail, which switch backed through birch forest, to Stratton Brook Hut. The sun on the trail warmed us as we crunched along in our snow shoes – who knew these were so loud – chatting and shedding layers to take photos of the pristine woods.

What was funny was that it was hard to tell, after being all bundled on the trail, who-was-actually-who once we got to the hut. We played a name game with Alicia (hint: everyone has a dog) and then sat by the fire in the post and beam room that is the center of the hut, sharing stories and getting to know each other. The Maine Huts & Trails Stratton Brook team had tea, snacks and wine available, capping all with a substantial and yummy meal. I love MH&T!

I was off to bed early in my bunk where I kicked my sleeping bag liner on my neighbor below, contributed to the snoring and took photos of Heather in hers, reading by headlamp. Zzzz.

After lots of coffee and a huge breakfast we re-bundled, posed with the LAC flag and set out again, striking a new snowy trail down, crunch, crunch, crunch. It was a great weekend to be out, to be away and to be a woman among women. For me, the pleasure lay in the mix of exertion and socialization. Being in the hut was a great mini-get away. Thanks LAC!

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