PORTLAND (AP) – A couple who were celebrating their 25th anniversary by hiking 200 miles over northern Maine’s frozen waterways completed the four-week journey on the weekend before Valentine’s Day.

Alexandra and Garrett Conover arrived in Allagash village Saturday after a trek on snowshoes that took them along the same route they followed on their honeymoon.

The Conovers, who operate a guide service in Willimantic, left Greenville on Jan. 15 on what they dubbed their Winter Walk for the Wilds. They hauled their 200 pounds of food and equipment on toboggans.

The Conovers, who used audio journals to record the trip on their Web site, hoped that their adventure would serve as a vehicle for educating children about the wonders of winter in the outdoors. They carried letters from schoolchildren that they delivered Saturday to kids from the Wallagrass Elementary School near Allagash.

Their route, which included Moosehead Lake, portions of the Penobscot River and a 90-mile stretch of the St. John, followed a corridor long used by Indians on their travels in the region.

Faced with spectacular 50-foot-high ice jams at the confluence of the St. John and Allagash rivers, the Conovers were forced to summon help. They were hauled off the St. John on a snowmobile, about six miles from their destination.

“We needed to be here on a weekend so that the schoolchildren could come out,” Garrett Conover said. “It would have taken us until the middle of next week to get here (without the tow).”

He said the varying winter weather, with temperatures dipping as low as 30 below zero, was similar to what he and his wife encountered during their first trip, as were the signs of wildlife everywhere. But fresh clear-cuts both times were a suprise, he said.

There were many new wonders, Alexandra Conover said, such as the ice reefs and canyons at the end, a whole new population of coyotes, lynx and bobcat tracks, and a raven mating dance along one section of the Penobscot River.

“There were all these raven tracks like a contra dance and we saw birds flying in pairs everywhere,” she said.

Yet the sight of the children from the Wallagrass Elementary School meant the most, Alexandra Conover said.

The children walked on snowshoes with the two guides for more than two hours Saturday, pulling their toboggan over the frozen St. John and Allagash rivers, cutting and testing ice, and playing around their canvas tent.

“That’s what this whole trip was about, opening doors and windows. They were bright and really sharp kids,” she said.


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