The first time I heard about the concept of fat biking the Maine Huts and Trails system I was sold! What a great combination of everything I like in life: part adventure, part fun with the perfect mix of biking, outdoor life, friends , good food and beers!
I was able to convince 15 people to take part on the first Edition of the FativAllezY. The name of the event is the winterized version of the FestivAllezY a mtb festival organized by my web site (AllezY.net) on the trails of Circuits Frontieres. We were a great mix of people, some of us from Québec, a group from Ontario and 2 guys from 2 differents states, NH and VT. The goal of the trip was to fat bike for 3 days on the Maine Huts and trail system and staying 2 nights in their luxurious Eco-huts.
Organizing group activities always bring a little bit of chaos and the first day of our trip was no different. We had 1 car that could not make it on time but without cell services we did not know if they were dead in a ditch or just very very late.
Small groups of people started riding, It’s a groomed system so how hard could it be to follow the trail?! It took about 300 m to get people confused. Right at the start there was a not very clear intersection with a snowmobile trail and this is where we lost our official photographer Aaron…. for 14 miles!
Isabelle and I started way after everyone else and we were very surprised to find singletrack options off the trail. We were expected to ride on large groomed trails for 3 days but how can we ignore the call of narrow singletracks that says: Snowshoe trail!
We saw many tire tracks in the snow so we knew that mostly everyone else in front of us had the same idea as us and it was a great one. The singletrack was nicely packed and brought us on narrow bridges and to a frozen waterfall.
After the waterfall we had to climb back up to the main trail on a very steep wall! Our bikes loaded with gear were not that heavy but it’s hard to find a place to push them up with a frame and seat bag.
Speaking of gear, packing for our first ever fat bike multi-day trip was almost as fun as the trip itself. Weeks before we exchanged gear list and picture of our setup.
After climbing the wall, we met up with Sean and Grant for a flask tasting
After some pretty steep and long climbs we relaxed in this yurt with a very pleasant fire, cheese on crackers and some good Ontario beers.
After the yurt it was all downhill. Ten km of fast and rolling downhills winding through a very scenic hemlock, maple and birch forest. While we were enjoying this descent buzzed on cedar fumes, beer and whisky Aaron was doing a solo marathon of 14 miles out and back on a random snowmobile trail.
We got to the hut and met with the rest of the group minus Aaron and the 3 from the car that did not make it on time.
We finally heard from Eric, Nat and Simon. They got to the trail head around 16:00 and we going to ride mostly at night to the hut. They started at dusk and enjoyed the trail under the beautiful fading light and then darkness.
Back at the hut, I had a very hard time enjoying my beer, I am usually happy about a 20% death rate but I was still very worried about Aaron because we did not know where he was , if he had a map and a light. He finally showed up later that night after doing twice the distance that we did.
The second day was the shortest of the 3 and we had a full day to do it. So we took the morning to ride on the singletrack on the lake flagstaff shore.
And at the end of the singletrack we took a couple of sips from the flasks and played around on the lake and the shore.
Studs are a expensive add-on to already very expensive tires. But when it gives you the chance to ride a perfectly smooth icy lake it’s totaly worth it.
Some of us with studs rode the lake back to the hut. For me it was one of the highlight of the trip.
After playing around in the morning it was time to make our way to the second hut on the main trail. After the craziness of the morning ride the trek to the Great Falls Hut was a bit more straight and flat.
But we always manage to have fun!
Shortly before the hut we came to the very impressive waterfall.
The Maine Huts and Trails system is some 50 miles long and has 4 huts. But the whole project is to have 180 miles of trail and many more huts. When we were over there, the conditions were terrible for skiing so they are really happy about the growing popularity of fat biking. We got a tour of the hut and it’s very impressive. Everything has been done to limit the footprint on the environment: From a very impressive solar system, to a fancy sceptic system that uses only 3 oz of water per flush and a effective double wood burning furnace that heats the radiant floors.
The great thing about the hut system is that the only thing you need do to is the get your ass from one hut to the next. Once arrived, you can kick back buy some beers and relax.
The price of 1 night in the hut includes dinner, breakfast and a lunch to pack for the next day. You can also have your gear shutlte from hut to hut.
The Fat version of sons of anarchy bikes in front of our rooms
The last day of the trip was the longest and the hardest.
If you looked closely at the elevation graph you can be fooled into thinking it’s mostly flat but when you look carefully you see the heart rate pattern of a classic up.
Riding wise it was awesome, the rhythm of the ups and down was great, it felt like riding a gigantic flowy singletrack. The downs were crazy fast and you had to be on your game because in the middle of a 30 km/h descent they were some icy patches as wide as the trail. Our friend Grant crashed so hard face first that we were afraid his tongue was going to stay stuck to the ice because he probably licked it all.
Of course they was always the mandatory border control stops where you had to get some liquid courage from the flask.
We were such a great group and we had a awesome time. Everyone was on the same page and had a great spirit. Sometimes maybe a bit too much spirit!?
Our 3 day expedition felt like a real vacation and everyone agreed that we should make this happens every year! Thanks to everyone and thanks to the friendly Maine Huts and Trails staff!