The view from one of the many bridges on the Narrow Gauge Pathway over the Carrabassett River. Credit: Courtesy of Sarah Sindo

I was doing all the things that come with being two weeks out from Christmas: last-minute gifting, decorating the house, baking and eating too many holiday cookies, and playing Christmas music in the house and car. Yet something was missing.

Outside still looked like November, the inbetween season month. There was no snow on the ground, and things looked a bit “blah.”

Rumblings of a winter storm started earlier in the week, and I was keeping my eyes on the forecast. Big snowfall predictions hit the airwaves, and I was excited but leery.

Lo and behold, I woke up Saturday morning to 17 inches of snow! My eyes couldn’t believe the transformation that took place overnight.

Tree branches were heavily weighted down by the newly fallen snow and the tops of the deck railings looked like snow skyscrapers. Thanks to the snowblower, the backyard quickly turned into a bathroom maze for our dog.

The following day I was free from work and yard cleaning, so it was play time. I smiled as I dusted off my cross country ski gear and headed north on Route 27 out of Kingfield.

I drove by the entrance to the Sugarloaf Regional Airport and pulled into the parking lot for the Narrow Gauge Pathway.

I pulled the laces tight on my boots, clipped into my skis, and after struggling with the Velcro pole straps, I took off across the open field toward the river.

I lingered on the bridge that crosses the Carrabassett River for a few moments, savoring the winter wonderland views. My favorite was the dry tops of the rocks in the river that held the new snow and looked like flat pancakes scattered about.

Bangor Daily News Outdoors contributor stops for a quick selfie in her winter happy place — nestled in the snowy woods of western Maine. Credit: Courtesy of Sarah Sindo

I took a left, crossed another small bridge, and quickly fell into a gliding rhythm thanks to the freshly groomed set ski track.

I instantly felt so happy. The kind of happiness that you feel in your bones, deep within. An external and internal joy and feeling of contentment.

I continued to ski for a while longer, enjoying a gentle incline that resulted in tired hip flexors. It felt good, though, to be outside, in the winter cold, moving my body. It was a different kind of invigoration. A movement I needed, and one that helped shake off any feelings of bah-humbug I was experiencing.

I decided it was time to turn around. Following the same track, I cruised back toward my car and reveled in the quietness that surrounded me. You know the conditions are good when you don’t hear the ice or hard packed snow scratching under your skis.

The Narrow Gauge Pathway is one of my favorite places to visit during the winter season. Over the years, I’ve skied, snowshoed and walked many miles with my dog.

It’s a non-motorized trail that spans almost seven miles along the east bank of the Carrabassett River. It’s grown in popularity over the past handful or so of years, but the three trailheads provide enough options for folks to spread out.

If you visit the trail for the first time, you might think it resembles a railroad. And you’re right! Back in 1894, the track was laid to transport timber, passengers and freight in the area, but 30 years later its practicality dwindled and the track was abandoned.

Maine’s first big snowstorm of the season made for excellent cross country skiing conditions. Credit: Courtesy of Sarah Sindo

In 2001, the town of Carrabassett Valley, along with assistance from the State of Maine, built the trail, and now locals and visitors to the area enjoy the multi-use trail throughout the year. It’s important for me to plug that, as a respectful user on all public and private land, we must remember to clean up after our furry family members and take good care and be respectful of the land we are recreating on.

It’s been a few days since the first big snowstorm of the season, and the forecast has yet another storm on the horizon. A different kind of storm though.

Snow lovers rejoice after getting whallopped with snow, and no one wants to hear rain. If you let it, it’s easy to let the weather roller coaster hit you like a freight train. During those bouts of dread about the changing weather, I try to welcome in the theory of impermanence.

As a kid, I may have rolled my eyes if an adult mentioned something along the lines of, “Everything changes and nothing lasts forever.” But, it’s true, isn’t it?

So, I make sure I get outside and get after it while the gettin’ is good. Play more and chore a little less. And when the less than desirable comes along, I know that it, too, won’t last for long.

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Sarah Sindo, Outdoors contributor

Sarah Sindo was locally grown in Millinocket. Her love and appreciation for the outdoors took off after college when she hiked numerous mountains with her brother, Nick, including her first ascent of Katahdin....