Archive for the ‘skiing’ Category

Combine skiing, golfing, steel pans this weekend at the ‘loaf

April 28, 2010

Get your last runs of the season in, and combine it with a round of golf this weekend at Sugarloaf. Here’s the deal: This weekend, May 1-2, is Ski and Tee Weekend, where you can ski on the mountain and play the back nine at the Sugarloaf Golf Club all in the same day. The cost is $25 for nine holes, or just $10 for those who show a lift ticket ($35) or New England Pass valid for that day.

Even better: Stick around Sunday afternoon, when more than a dozen steel drum bands from across New England will perform in front of the Sugarloaf Inn. The 20th annual PanNE Steel Band Festival, hosted by the Western Mountain Trash Can Band, is slated Sunday, May 2, beginning at 10 a.m. It’s free.  Sounds like a perfect picnic opportunity to me.

Sugarloaf is reporting 8-10 inches on the upper mountain (less than 3 at the base), and it’s operating two lifts, the Superquad and Spillway East. Friends report that even before this storm, the skiing was mighty fine above Peavy X-Cut. BUT, here’s the fine print: You can’t ski to the base, you have to walk down once the snow runs out, and that point varies day to day. You might want to bring a backpack with hiking shoes to make the slug through them mud and whatnot a bit easier than hoofing it in ski boots.

The mountain closes for the season on Sunday, May 2. After this weekend, the golf course will close until its scheduled opening date of May 28.

Tele Invasion at Saddleback Saturday

March 19, 2010

Here’s one more event for this weekend: On Saturday, March 20, Saddleback Ski Area, in Rangeley, hosts its sixth annual Telemark Invasion.

• Test new telemark skiing gear

• Free clinics for all abilities

• An up/down climb event-—be sure to bring skins, if you want to participate.

All followed by apres in the Swig’n’Smelt Geary’s and Matt & the Barnburners, and at 8 p.m., rocking with Pogey in the fireplace room.

Forecast says sunshine and spring!

Kudus to Maine Huts & Trails

March 15, 2010

This weekend, I hiked into the Flagstaff Lake Hut of the Maine Huts & Trails network for a quick overnight and to present Dave Herring (left), executive director of Maine Huts, with the Society of American Travel Writers Phoenix award. As a writer who specializes in Maine and who strives to get readers off the beaten path—beyond the chain motels and fast-food joints—to experience and discover the real Maine, I was particularly pleased to present this award.

Back in 1969, S.A.T.W. realized that tourism leaves  footprints, some harmful to the environment, others—such as when we love a place too much—destroy the very reasons for travel. The Phoenix Award recognizes conservation, preservation, beautification, and antipollution accomplishments related to travel, and no place is more deserving than Maine Huts & Trails.

When completed, the 8-foot-wide human-powered/multi-use trail through Maine’s woods, lakes, and rivers will stretch 180 miles, from Newry in the Mahoosuc Mountains to Greenvile, on the shores of Moosehead Lake. Full-service, alternative-powered off-the-grid huts, spaced roughly every 10-12 miles or a day’s hike apart, offer comfy beds, hot showers, and delicious all-you-can-eat meals. The trail is open to bikes, skis, snowshoes, and foot, as well as, in some locations, canoes, kayaks, and rafts.

To date, two huts have been completed, one at Poplar Falls, a bit over two miles from the trailhead in Carrabassett Valley, and the second on the shores of Flagstaff Lake, just shy of two miles from the Long Falls Dam Road trailhead, or a good day’s hike or ski from Poplar.

Previously, I’ve hiked into Poplar; the hike into Flagstaff is far easier, opening up the experience to far more folks (one can even go in over the construction road, shortening it to just over one mile); in summer, it’s even a lunch (with option for overnight) stop on a pontoon-boat tour of Flagstff lake. The third hut, sited on Grand Falls of the Dead River, is awaiting final permits and fund raising, but construction is slated to begin this year, perhaps as early as May.

Before the snow melts and the huts close for mud season (later this month), go in for a look-see. Hike, ski, or snowshoe in for lunch, if not an overnight. You’ll be amazed at what’s available:

• bunkrooms sleeping 2-8 outfitted with nice mattresses, pillows, and fleece blankets and heated to 60 degrees;

• dining hall, with woodstove, and a lounge, with leather furniture, games, and a few books;

• drying room for wet gear;

• restroom equipped with showers, composting toilets, and sinks.

You might be in the middle of the Maine woods, but you’re not really roughing it. Even beer and wine are available.

Go ahead, give it a try. Trust me, you might be a bit challenged, but you won’t be disappointed. Below is a just a sampling of what awaits along the trail.

NOTE: Top photo credit and copyright Carey Kish; all others credit and copyright Hilary Nangle.

Bunk rooms are bright, clean, and comfy.

All-you-can-eat family-style dinners might include roast turkey with all the fixings followed by linzer torte.

After dinner, relax by the woodstove.

A crew from the Wilderness House sports stores prepares to hit the trail in the morning.

Ready to Reggae? Sugarloaf announces line-up

March 13, 2010

Sugarloaf’s Bud Light Reggae Festival returns April 15-18 for three days of insanity, music, wild times, and (one hopes) spring skiing. The 2010 Reggae Festival will feature 11 bands, with a different headliner each day. Among those performing are:

• Inner Circle, Friday night, in the King Pine Room, tix required

• Kenyatta Culture Hill, Saturday night, in the King Pine Room, tix required

• TOSH-1, Sunday, free, and on The Beach

Supporting bands, performing for the free, outdoor concerts on The Beach, indoors for apres ski in the Widowmaker, and as warm-ups for the featured attractions, include:Mighty Mystic, Royal Hammer, Mystic Bowie, JSAN & The Analogue Sons, Dub Is A Weapon, Trumystic, iLa Mawana, and DJ Kompost.

If you haven’t been to Reggae Weekend, well, it’s an experience that kind of in the same vein as Woodstock (if you can remember it, you weren’t there). Full details, including schedule and costs, are on the website.

Psst, the skiing is fabulous, sunshine for Sat.

March 12, 2010

I know that down on the coast and points south its full-blown spring, robins and daffodils, tennis and golf, but here at Sugarloaf and nearby Saddleback, it’s still winter. I’m just off the slopes, and the conditions are phenomenal: Utah-like high-alpine snow, along with sunshine and temps in the 40s. No corn, no bare spots, not even any thin spots. The cover is deep, and the woods are still white. While rain is predicted elsewhere, the latest forecast for Sugarloaf/Saddleback calls for sunshine tomorrow and into Sunday. Trust me, you won’t regret scoring a few more runs this season, and this weekend is looking primo. Just remember to bring the sunscreen.

Seth Wescott thrills the Loaf, talks about Maine

March 8, 2010

Had the great fortune to attend Maine golden boy Seth Wescott’s homecoming celebration at Sugarloaf, and hat’s off to the guy. Wescott’s love for his hometown and state is heartfelt, and Mainers know that. They also know he gives as good as he gets.

A humongous crowd showed up at the ‘loaf to welcome him home, and Seth didn’t disappoint. He rode in amidst throngs of eager kids, then took to a balcony podium, where Maine Governor John Baldacci congratulated him, before turning over the mic. Afterwards, Seth patiently sat and signed autographs for what must have been hours, giving each child his undivided attention for a minute or two as he signed, smiled for the photo, and engaged the kid in conversation.

Back in 1991, Seth said he attended the U.S. Open and watched his biggest heroes refuse to sign autographs for kids. “I said if I ever get to that point, it’s a way to give back; it motivates kids for years to come,” he said. “And I’d rather that than be a jerk.”


Seth is not only a motivator, but also a spokesperson for Maine’s WinterKids Program, which aims to get kids participating in winter sports. He sees his role as a “natural extension of the way I was introduced to the sport.” Neither of his parents skied, so it took initiative to not only take up the sport but keep with it. “Maine’s winters are long and cold, and there’s a lot of childhood obesity. It’s important to get kids outdoors to have fun.” And that’s, what WinterKids is all about.

Training at Sugarloaf

Seth also talked about his connection to the ‘loaf. When asked why he remains anchored here when so many athletes choose to move elsewhere to live and train, he said: “I don’t want to move my home. You can’t get a sense of home by changing your roots. It never crossed my mind to move.”

In high school, he’d look out the thrid floor window and see the back side of Sugarloaf. “I skipped a lot of school,” he quipped. “I feel more at home here than anywhere in the world. We spend so much time on the road.” Then he praised the local facilities—the mountain, CVA, and the Anti-Gravity Center: “These are equally as good as if not the best training and gym facilities anywhere in the U.S.”

Future vision

Seth is aiming for the 2014 Olympics, and he’s also planning to play a role in Sugarloaf’s future. “Sugarloaf is in my heart. There’s a lot I want to do,” he said. He’s involved with a Vision 2020 program that’s setting long-term goals. “I want to help the mountain implement the potential of what this place has to offer. There’s another whole mountain to develop, so much potential to realize, and I’m excited to get involved to make that reality. The next 10 years are going to be exciting.”

We’ll be watching, Seth, we’ll be watching…

Sugarloaf welcomes Wescott home Saturday

March 2, 2010

Olympic double-gold medalist Seth Wescott will return to a hero’s welcome at his home area, Sugarloaf, Maine, on Saturday, March 6. Wescott’s Homecoming Celebration kicks off at 1 p.m., with congratulations from Maine Gov. John Baldacci, but the shindig really gets rolling around 1:30, when Wescott will make a special entrance, details of which aren’t being revealed.

Seth will address the crowd, then sign autographs in the base lodge from 2-4 p.m. Special commemorative posters will be available. That event is expected to be especially kid-centric, but afterwards, adults rule at the Toast to Seth in the Widowmaker Lounge.

The event is the kickoff to to VISA Seth Wescott Ride With Me Tour, during which the snowboard phenom will travel across America sharing his passion. It’s also one more reason to get to the ‘loaf this weekend. As I’ve previously noted, the conditions are phenomenal. Expect crowds, but it’ll be worth it.

Just in case you’ve had your head in the snow, Maine native Seth Wescott is one of the most accomplished and decorated athletes in snowboarding history. He’s an 11-year US Snowboarding Team Veteran, 8-time X-Games medalist, former World and US Champion, and holds the only two Olympic Gold Medals ever awarded in the sport of snowboardcross.

Image courtesy Sugarloaf.

Whistler has Inukshuk, Sugarloaf has…

March 2, 2010

… so what should it be called? #Sugarloaf Image ©Hilary Nangle

Western skiing, eastern mountain: Sugarloaf today

March 2, 2010

Tuesday, March 2, 2010: heaven awaits. ©Hilary Nangle

Views off Timberline chair ©Hilary Nangle

Let me tell about the ski conditions at Sugarloaf today. In short, I can’t wipe the smile off my face. If the ski season ended today, memories of this bluebird day at Sugarloaf would carry me through until next winter. After receiving more than five feet of snow since last Wednesday, the sun appeared, the wind disappeared, and Sugarloaf uncorked a perfect 10, when it comes to Alpine conditions. Everything’s open, the mountains was coated in soft white, and—trust me—it was easy to believe you were in Utah or Colorado; yeah, it was that good.

The Backside beckons. ©Hilary Nangle

My friends Deb, Brian, Mark, and Tom scored first trackes on the Backside this morning, when we hit the summit right as Ski Patrol was dropping the ropes. Deb reported: “Outrageous, wind has really blown the snow in there. A few rocks to watch for, and quite a few places where you need to do the bunny hop.” So good, they went back and repeated the run three more times.

Thanks to that bum shoulder of mine, we stuck with the groomed. Gondi Line off the summit was the best I’ve seen it in years. Ditto for Cinderhoe and Binder.

Binder. ©Hilary Nangle

Now remember: Tomorrow is Maine Day, so if you’re a Maine resident, bring ID and score a $30 ticket. Expect it to be busy: It’s some region’s vacation week (New Brunswick’s, perhaps) ; plus, the New York City Fire Department,some 300+ strong, is up here for their annual escape; and the J2 Nationals are underway. If you prefer fewer folks, you might want to visit Saddleback, which, I’m hearing, is equally fabulous. Hmmmm, might have to head there myself tomorrow.

Snow Gods smiling on Maine

February 27, 2010

Saturday, Feb. 27, courtesy Sugarloaf.

Since Wednesday, Sugarloaf has received more than 50 inches of snow, and another 12-16 are in the forecast before this megastorm moves out on Monday. Conditions are similar at Saddleback, with a bit less at Sunday River. At all, depths deepen and the snow lightens as the elevation increases.

Now I know lots of folks don’t believe resort reports, but I spend my winters just a few miles from the ‘loaf’s base, and I can vouch for the depth (as can my shoveler-in-chief husband). Outside my window, the world is white, with snow caked on the trees and clinging to every surface. And it’s still snowing.

The downside: If you’re not a deep or heavy snow skier/rider, you might want to wait until the  groomed crews roll it. Also, I’m hearing reports of huge lift lines, as some areas are having trouble with lift ops due to the snow (check current lift status when visiting the web sites, or call). And parking; not a pretty situation. And roads; getting here takes patience.

The upside: Wow! Powdah pigs are loving it. Even the natural snow trails are open with decent conditions. March is going to be fabulous.

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