Mt. Chase Lodge
Words by Shannon Brown
Illustrations by Ashley Herrin
It’s far. There’s no way around that. Unless you’re one of the lucky few living in Maine’s north country where the Appalachian trail begins and the new National Monument was recently created, chances are good that a road trip will be part of your experience at Shin Pond.
You’ll drive down roads that appear forgotten, through towns that seem to be nothing but a cluster of houses and through gusts of wind pushing snow across your path.
Once you get there, the adventure will really begin. At Mount Chase Lodge, you’ll be greeted by Mike and Lindsay, a young couple who just took over for Lindsay’s parents, who ran the family business for 40 years. They’ll make you feel welcome and encourage you to quickly get comfortable.
Before I arrived, Mike and Lindsay suggested bringing snowshoes, since the lake, which can be seen glistening through the picture window in the lodge’s sun room, would likely not be in prime ice skating condition. I borrowed snowshoes and hit the trails after breakfast the first morning.
Walking to the trails initially felt like walking in giant clown shoes, but I got more comfortable as I went along. And like a creature not designed for land, the snowshoes made more sense once I brought them into their natural environment — the two feet of snow that had recently blanketed Shin Pond.
By having the snowshoes, I was able to enter into a true winter wonderland and access trails flanked by pine trees with snow-bowed branches and giant fallen birch trees.
Watching the snow fall gently around us was a beautiful reminder of just how deep into the woods I had traveled and how lucky I was to experience nature undisturbed. The snowshoe trails at Mount Chase Lodge let visitors experience winter’s splendor without ever having to worry about getting too cold — the lodge, with its massive fire-lit hearth and tea and hot cocoa at the ready, is always just a few steps away.
I couldn’t get enough of the sun shining on the snow, the quiet hush of winter and the thrill of being active in an environment that normally forces me into hibernation mode. I ended up snowshoeing several times that weekend.
When I arrived back at the lodge, Mike had his special homemade “everything bread” waiting for us with fresh butter. It tasted like getting a treat from a fancy European ski chalet, but enhanced with the comforting flavors of an everything bagel. After the snowshoeing, it was my favorite part of the weekend.
As I packed my bags on the last day and headed back out on the road, I was already missing Shin Pond with its field of undisturbed snow and cozy cabins.
It had been a long journey to get there, but the destination was one I’ll never forget.