WATERVILLE — It was a day for experimentation at the Quarry Road Trails.

On Saturday morning, the greater Waterville community had an opportunity to try out snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, fat-tire biking and even snow sculpting. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., MaineGeneral’s Prevention and Healthy Living program partnered with Waterville’s Parks and Recreation department and a number of other local organizations to host a Winter Fun Day. The event, which was free, drew over 200 people, according to Waterville’s Parks and Recreation Director Matt Skehan.

Winslow’s Serena Sanborn, who recently won second place at the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition with her team, The Carvivores, lent her talents on Saturday as she taught a cluster of children how to turn a snowbank into a “lizard creature.” Leah Mahar, 8, sat on top of the pile of snow, making “spikes for the lizard’s back.” Pagean Depalmayahn, also 8, shaved down its sides with a handheld rake; and Leighton Bradford, 11, helped bring its face to life by spraying it with a green dye and giving it a scaly texture.  Meanwhile, Ruth Mahar, 10, focused on a more interactive feature of the snow amphibian — a slide.

“I’m making it smoother,” Ruth said. “It’s important that there aren’t bumps, especially for the little kids.”

Sanborn said that one of the most important things for kids and novice sculptors to focus on is which tools feel right to them.

“Really it’s a matter of just playing — trying out the tools and experimenting” she said.

Pagean provided a clear rationale for her tool of choice.

“I figured if I wanted to make it skinnier, this would be good for scraping the snow away,” she said about the handheld rake.

Cathy Thompson, another Carvivores member, said that all of the tools she uses for snow sculpting are designed for woodworking or gardening.  Nearby, she worked alongside fellow Madison resident Breanna Kanagy, 17, to carve a cat with a butterfly on its nose out of an 8-foot block of snow. Kanagy smoothed out one of the cat’s legs with a shingle shaver.

Prior to Saturday morning, Thompson had printed out an image of a cat from the internet, cut and pasted it to reflect the position she wanted and then transferred it onto a square grid that enabled her to equate an inch of height on the paper to a foot of height in real life. In her original plan for the sculpture, the cat’s paw was extended above its head, with the butterfly resting on its paw.

“Today, because of the sun, the foot would have fallen off (if we made the paw that high),” Thompson said. Making a game-time decision to move the paw to a lower position and relocate the butterfly to the tip of the cat’s nose was no big deal for the sculpting duo.

“The plan is always changing, always evolving,” Thompson said. “Mother Nature’s the boss.”

Sanborn said that cloudy days with temperature of 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit are best for the sculptors to work with. On Saturday, the high temperature was 36 degrees F, and the temperature stayed around 32 degrees for the majority of the morning and afternoon.

While the sun might not have produced the most ideal conditions for snow art, skiers, sledders and snowshoers said the weather could hardly have been better.

“It’s just the most perfect, gorgeous conditions,” said Kathy Staehli, a Quarry Road Trails volunteer from Madison who was helping serve snacks inside the Welcome Center yurt after skiing. “The temperature is just right. The snow is just right. It’s not freezing. You just couldn’t ask for warmer day. Everyone’s having fun.”

Skehan said the timing of this week’s storm produced optimal conditions for Winter Fun Day.

“I was very happy to get some snow on Wednesday,” he said.

Kiara Carr and her father, Michael Carr, of Fairfield, spent the morning snowshoeing for the first time.

“It’s weird. You have to pick up your feet. They feel really heavy,” Kiara Carr said upon taking her first steps in the foot gear.

There were about 60 pairs of snowshoes in various sizes available for free use Saturday, according to Skehan. Waterville High School, Northern Light Inland Hospital and the Waterville Parks and Recreation department pooled their gear to enable as many people as possible to try out the activity. The city also lent out 17 pairs of cross-country skis. Matheiu’s Cycle & Fitness Store, of Farmingdale, provided several fat-tire bikes.

Waterville resident Matt Morrison brought his 4-year-old Bernese mountain dog, Mia, along for some outdoor exploration. A small campfire provided a place for people to warm up cold fingers and make s’mores. After spending the morning skiing, Lori Santiago and her daughter Sophia Santiago, 7, worked together to toast a perfectly golden marshmallow.

“It’s been a great day,” Lori Santiago said. “We’ve had lots of fun.”

In all, Skehan said, the day was a success, noting that he saw a mix of old and new faces.

“We just want to expose this space to as many people as we can,” he said. “The best part is hearing people say, ‘This is so great, I had no idea this was here.'”

The Quarry Road Trails, owned by the city of Waterville, are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week, with a 1.5-mile lit loop trail that stays open until 9 p.m. for night skiing. The property contains over 200 acres, including 6 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails. Maine General’s Prevention and Healthy Living program will offer several more events and classes this winter focused on healthy mind and body, physical movement and healthy cooking and eating.

 

Meg Robbins — 861-9239
[email protected]
@megrobbins


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