Cold Snaps

From hot springs to mountain-town fiestas to one surprisingly easy island getaway, we've got you covered.

Western Maine's backcountry     Photo: Jose Azel/Aurora

WESTERN MAINE
America's most luxurious hut-to-hut ski route is not in the Rockies. Or the Sierra. It's in ... Maine. Yeah, you read that correctly. The nonprofit Maine Huts and Trails' (mainehuts.org) new system of huts—three of 12 are finished—takes backcountry comfort to a new level. I skied the huts last winter, unsure what to expect—visions of lobster-themed decor came to mind. Then I glided on perfectly groomed cross-country trails between state-of-the-art, solar- and hydropowered full-service huts dropped 10 to 12 miles apart in the north woods. (The latest, the Grand Falls Hut, was completed in October.) The "huts" are more like lodges, housing 32 to 42 skiers in bunks and serving meals in a separate dining room. Hutkeepers (there are four at each lodge) shuttled my gear by snowmobile, so I could travel fast and light on cross-country skis, free of my heavy-duty boots and boards; dinner was pesto pasta and blueberry pie. Is this the future of backcountry skiing? Is it even backcountry skiing? Does it matter? I didn't think so as I flew through the Bigelow Mountain Range and around the bright-white canvas of Flagstaff Lake, fortified by hot showers and pie. $65 per person per night, breakfast and dinner included; $80 for Saturday nights; multi-night packages start at $99.

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