LITCHFIELD — Deep cold set in across Maine on Saturday, with lows in the Lewiston-Auburn area dipping to 3 degrees Fahrenheit. That didn’t stop Mainers from working — and playing — out in the elements.

Tom Fair owns Applewald Farms in Litchfield with his wife. He said he gets up at 7:30 or 8 a.m. on cold winter days, waiting for the rising sun to provide a buffer for the cold.

Then, he spends most days pruning apple tree branches — work that can only be done during the winter, while the trees are dormant.

“When it’s real windy, I don’t work outside, but most days, I’m out there,” he said.

Tips for staying warm?

“Wear good clothing, and have dry boots,” he said.

According to Chris Kimble, a forecaster with the National Weather Service, this cold spell puts the cold right back where it was on Thanksgiving, when lows hit 3 degrees.

“The cold isn’t in record territory, but it is about the coldest of the winter,” Kimble said.

Up on the West Cove of Moosehead Lake, where the ice is 17 inches thick, spectators, some on snowmobiles, some ice fishing, gathered around a quarter-mile oval track and watched five competitors race Sunday.

“I’ve lived here my whole life, so I’m used to the cold, but when I’m in the race car with no jacket or gloves, my adrenaline is pumping,” said Nikki Hamilton, of Greenville Junction.

Hamilton has been ice racing on Moosehead Lake since she was 12. She said that although the sport has dwindled in popularity over the past 20 years, about 35 people, some sitting in trucks they drove onto the ice, came to watch the first race of the season.

“It was frigid, 30 below with the wind chill,” she said. “Once it gets into the 40s, it’s like summertime for us.”

Hamilton said Greenville, a town with a population of 1,642, rallies around ice racing.

“A lot of my sponsors are people from town. We go around to businesses and put out signs. The town’s money has kept us going,” she said.

“It’s hard to swallow, your mouth is dry, you gotta love the adrenaline,” she said. “It’s a rush that I absolutely love.”

With disc golf’s burgeoning popularity, it’s no surprise that many fans of the sport keep playing year round. Peter Ruby, owner of Sabattus Disc Golf, said he closes his course when it’s frigid or icy, but he still sees golfers on the course throughout the winter.

“On nicer days, we see quite a bit of business,” he said.

Chris Pelletier of Sabattus is an employee at Sabattus Disc Golf, and frequently plays in the cold. Although he didn’t get out Saturday, he said he plans to go Sunday.

In disc golf, players will often get a running start, or follow through as they hurl their discs toward a basket at the end of the course. Pelletier said snow complicates the game.

“In the  cold, there’s quite a bit of things that make it different. It’s more of a standstill game, and it’s harder to get run-ups and make shots,” he said.

“It makes it a completely different game,” he said. “The walk is 10 times harder, because sometimes you’re walking through knee-high snow. It’s harder to throw when you’re bundled up.”

Why trudge through the elements on a 10-degree day?

“The people that play in the winter do it because they love playing and don’t want to stop for four or five months,” Pelletier said.  “Most people think we’re mental. I like to keep moving, I like the exercise. If I sat around and didn’t move all winter, I’d gain 30 pounds.”

Pelletier said tournament play makes up a lot of disc-golfing traffic this time of year. Miles Knight, a Portland-based disc golfer, said he spent the day competing at Bittersweet Ridge in North Yarmouth.

“I’m still warming up,” Knight said.

“There were 50 of us out there, and  for a team match, that was pretty sweet,” he said. “I got there at 7:30 a.m. to warm up, and my car said it was 5 degrees.” 

A must-have for the day? Hand warmers.

“Today, everyone needed hand warmers. They were selling like hotcakes,” Knight said.

His advice for winter play?

“If you want to throw normally, don’t wear a ton of layers, or your throwing movements will be chunky.” 

And, “use softer plastic discs. If you hit a tree really hard with hard plastic, it shatters. There’s a couple of broken discs lying around the course right now.” 

 

Brenna Cockerham and Sheryll Walters cheer on skiers from Mt. Abram High School in Salem Township at the Leavitt Classic in Turner on Saturday. Both women said the cold weather was not too bad. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

Gregg Cameron and Wilson Gray, from Camden Hills, keep warm in their school colors while horsing around after their ski race at the Leavitt Classic in Turner on Saturday. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

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