playing the long shot: Moosehead!

8 am saturday….impossible to leave the bed’s cocoon….the shoulders, knees, elbows: each placed just so, to avoid pain… to make it down to the magic of toast and tea and Advil?….but the memories….how the body now smiles….luxuriates…Buchholz says there are four cornerstones to iceboating. WIND….how it powers and drives you thru yesterday’s dense bonded snow drifts which covered 10% of the lake…accellerating on the grey, braking on the white. ICE….the dozens of varieties: scollups, pinnicles, caverns, yet magically all so smooth and undangerous…. BUDDIES….our wonderful collection of nutcases, whom we enjoy, bear with, and love….and SCENERY….and here….here…. there is simply no word, no possible concept, to apply to yesterday.

Moosehead is 75K acres….Winniepasaukee 46K…..Sebago 30K….Moosehead is so vast, so mountain-bounded, and so dominated in its center by a dramatic brick-shaped mound, Mount Kineo….. that when you glimpse it driving from the South, you can’t believe your eyes….this is a fairy kingdom…. Yet driving 3 hours due north on April 17 seemed such a long shot. As we loaded the car Thursday afternoon, I warned the strong sun: Don’t kybosh our Ice!…..what hubris….the tilt of the earth was against me…ice was melting willy-nilly at breakneck speed…..local lakes were water…..Plymouth, and hour north was half-and-half, its central plate soon to come unmoored and ricochet to death against the shores. At 2 hours the ice looked solid but puddled at the edges…and at 3 hours, reaching Moosehead, we had ice bonded to the shores. Walking out, at the Greenville ramp, the snow drifts were daunting….my spirits fell….

But 10 miles further north at Rockwood, the drifts were fewer and shallower….we scouted a good launch plan, and then began searching for dinner…..two restaurants were closed, one rattled your dentures with “music”, and we settled down with thankful relief, to wrap sandwiches at a pizza joint….by now die-hard Curtis had joined our duo…..later a cozy motel….a sunny dawn….a great breakfast, eaten without hurry in the calm morning air….and then we swung by the Greenville ramp again and goggled at massive 4WD king-cab trucks, pulling glistening enclosed trailers, disgorging shiny new snowmobiles, shepharded by beautifully high-tech-clad humanoids…wow!…no kneeling in Good-Friday churches for this lot…….nor us, of course.

Soon Denis joined us after a 2 hour drive south from Quebec and we five helped each other set-up in the light SE wind….out on the ice at last, it was great sailing to windward in the 7 MPH airs, but tricky working downwind….the Bills switched to slush runners while the wind slowly built and by 10AM it was absolutely glorious on any sort of runner…the 1″ snow or slush, either hard in the morning or softened in the afternoon was backed by smooth solid ice…

We explored, we snacked, we match-raced at every chance….we hiked lingeringly before imaginary cameras, backed by the drama of Mt. Kineo….we gathered here and there, now and then, in the blazing sun, to compare notes…..everything was so new to me….never have I sailed such vastness….never sailed a surface which looked so dodgy, but was so smooth in reality…and by 3PM, with arthritis now shouting to some, we again worked as a team to wade boat parts thru the slush and pack our trailers 100 yards away….

will there be more?…..sated for now, we imagined this being a fabulous ending….but i’ll wager….i’ll just bet…that if we keep oogling Greenville’s weather….and see two cold mornings in a row in the next two weeks…..these laboratory rats might just pull lever “A” one more time…and hope those tasty food pellets slide down the chute…..

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