On Saturday, Jan. 29, I got my first ride in a snow groomer. The complimentary rides were given by members of the Greenstock Snowsports Snowmobile Club as part of Bethel WinterFest 2011. My driver was Gary Okenquist, president of the club. He explained that the snow groomer we were riding in was built specifically for grooming snowmobile trails, which can be as narrow as nine feet wide. Greenstock Snowmobile Club covers the towns of Greenwood, Woodstock, Bethel, and the townships of Albany and Milton. The club maintains and grooms more than 70 miles of trails and oversees the maintenance of another 30 miles of trail in Bethel. All of this work is done by club volunteers. The trails they maintain connect with trails in Newry, Rumford, and the White Mountain National Forest, which allow access to trails throughout Maine, New Hampshire, and into Canada. The club’s website at www.greenstocksnowsports.com has up-to-date trail reports, news of upcoming events, and club information.
The ice skating rink is open. The rink is at Festival Plaza, 37 Cross Street (near the Ice Tower). Some sizes of skates are available at the Chamber of Commerce office, which is across the street. The office will be open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during February and March. Maintenance of the ice rink is dependent on the weather and volunteers.
Conditions are good for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. On Sunday, Jan. 30, I snowshoed up the Mt. Will trail to the South Cliffs. The trail was well packed and maintained. However, some sections, particularly at the higher elevations were icy, tricky to navigate, and it was sometimes difficult to maintain a foothold. From the cliffs there is a beautiful view of the Sunday River Valley and parts of Bethel. If you decide to hike up Mt. Will, I recommend taking a partner and starting early in the day. As always when snowshoeing, take a cell phone and watch the weather. It might be difficult to get down the trail safely in a snowstorm.
There is a new auto repair shop in Bethel. In mid-January Francis (Sam) Westleigh opened Cross Street Auto Repair at 48 Cross Street (next to the car wash). Sam has been an auto mechanic since 1974 and formerly worked at Bethel Auto Sales. He does both minor and major auto repairs. The shop is open on weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12, by appointment. The shop’s phone number is 824-2342.
The children at the Bethel Learning Center have created two beautiful snow sculptures near their center at the corner of Station Place and Cross Street. The toddlers built a snow person complete with long arms and blue gloves. A few feet away the 3-5 year olds carved a long, sinewy stegosaurus with life-like orange feet and blue and green bony dorsal plates and spikes gracing her back. A sign posted near the stegosaurus says, “A work in progress.” The sculptures merit a close-up view.
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