Exchange students during a hike in Maine.

Mile...Mile and a Half

PAX exchange is all about trying new and different things, so how about some hiking? Adelina from Kyrgyzstan and her fellow students went with her host mom to Maine Huts & Trails, a network of trails and lodges in western Maine.

Originally conceived in the 1970s, Maine Huts & Trails was going to be a network of cross country ski trails and huts for multi-day excursions. Over the years their vision expanded to include 80 miles of trails and four lodges in the back country designated for non-motorized use. The organization maintains the trails year-round and has goals that reach much further than providing trails and lodges.

Maine Huts & Trails’ mission is to provide an eco-friendly experience to its visitors as well as protecting natural habitat, offering environmental educational opportunities, and benefiting the local community by attracting visitors year round. It’s a non-profit organization that has grown from a simple idea into a perfect place to bring exchange students for a day of hiking off the grid!

Here is what Adelina’s host mom, and local community coordinator, had to say about their day in the backcountry of western Maine.

Our exchange student cluster took off for a hike over Labor Day weekend through Maine Huts & Trails. The path we selected through the organization’s trail system was 3.3 miles to a nice hut. The hut is “off the grid,” so my students learned what it was like to live off the grid, how they create their own power, and how they compost out human waste. It was very interesting.

Our route there was also interesting. Although the hike was supposed to be 3.3 miles, our group of 11 took a wrong trail, hiking 3.5 miles before we learned we were lost! After hiking the 3.5 miles back to the beginning of the trail, the organization was nice enough to let us all drive to the hut!

All in all, it was a long—but beautiful—day!

—Brandy Jewell (ME), community coordinator and host mom of Adelina (FLEX, Kyrgyzstan)