Skijoring in Maine
DO THIS IF . . . You are a dog lover and can stay balanced on skis while being pulled by what amounts to a small army of fur.
DON'T TRY THIS IF . . . You have a delicate derriere and are tone deaf to the call of the wild.
COST: Skijoring lessons at the Telemark Inn (see below) cost $25 per hour; use your own skis or rent in town. You may also bring your own pooch (and keep him at the kennel down the road) or borrow one of innkeeper/instructor Steve Crone's.
GETTING THERE: To reach Bethel, fly to Portland, Maine (United, US Airways and other major carriers fly from Washington for about $250 round trip) and drive about 70 miles northwest on I-495 north to Exit 11. Pick up Route 202 to 26, then turn onto Route 5, which leads into town.
WHERE TO STAY: To live, breathe and sleep skijoring, stay at the five-bedroom Telemark Inn (10 rugged miles from Bethel, call for directions; 207-836-2703, www.telemarkinn.com), where Steve offers lessons that go beyond snowplowing and learning to say "Whoa." He will also introduce you to his family of dogs; take you for a moonlit ride on his dog-pulled all-terrain vehicle; regale you with kooky tales over dinner; and stoke up the wood-burning sauna for a late-night steam. Rates run $95 per night, or $120 all-inclusive (two-night minimum), which includes five meals, hors d'oeuvres, use of ski touring center, snowshoeing and other winter activities.
Closer to civilization, you can stay at any number of accommodations ringing Sunday River ski mountain. Info: 207-824-3000, www.sundayriver.com. For B&Bs in town, contact the Bethel Chamber of Commerce (800-442-5826, www.bethelmaine.com).
WHERE TO EAT: The Telemark Inn's winter weekend packages include meals, and despite the lodge's rustic air the food falls on the side of big-city chic (i.e. sushi roll appetizers, salmon steak with vanilla-tinged mashed potatoes). You also can find hearty apres-ski food and ales around Bethel and (atop) Sunday River, including Sunday River Brewing Company (Junction 2 and Sunday River Road) and the Sudbury Inn (151 Main St.), a local hangout with entertainment and pub food downstairs and finer fireside dining upstairs.
OTHER ACTIVITIES: The Telemark Inn offers a slew of cold-weather activities, including snowshoeing, winter treks around its 30 acres of trails, horse- (or cow-) drawn sleigh rides, horseback riding and playing with Steve's affectionate dogs.
At Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center (Route 16, Pinkham Notch, Gorham, N.H.; 603-466-2333, www.mt-washington.com), scale blustery Mount Washington in a winter SnowCoach or don cold-weather accouterments and explore acres of wintry trails. There is also snow tubing, snowmobiling and ice skating; contact the chamber of commerce for details.
-- Andrea Sachs