The Weatherman had predicted that a big storm was going to hit the Northeast the weekend I was heading up to Sunday River in Maine. I was looking forward to getting in some really good skiing at this world-class ski area.
I drove to the airport and hopped a plane to Manchester, picked up a rental car and proceeded to drive up to Bethel, Maine. It only took three hours from the airport and I arrived around 1 AM. I was staying at the Cascades Condos, a ski-in, ski-out condominium right on the slope. It was a nice split-level studio condo with a pull-down Murphy bed and fully-equipped kitchen. Cascades has a heated indoor pool, sauna, hot tub, laundry facilities and a large common area with fireplace. They provide ski lockers in the basement. Sunday River offers a lot of different packages including: A SKI FREE Package, where you book lodging and you’ll get a lift tickets and an adult Perfect Turn clinic for free. Early season rates start at $49.95 through Dec 17. Mid-season rates start at $59.95 and are available for Sunday through Thursday night arrivals, non-holiday, with no minimum stay required.
They also offer a $29 lodging package for season pass holders and many other packages, as well. For more information, call: 1-800-543-2SKI (2754).
I was up early and picked up my tickets. The sun was shining, it was warm and a beautiful day to be out on the slopes. Alex Kaufman, the Director of Communications, arranged to ski with me and show me around. Warm weather had its effect on the snow but Sunday River’s exceptional snowmaking capability covered the slopes with some of the best man-made show in New England.
Sunday River features 128 trails spread across eight interconnected mountain peaks, each offering a distinct experience. The resort is serviced by a network of 18 lifts, including four high-speed quads.
We rode up the high-speed quad and began to systematically explore the mountain. Considering all the rain they had, there was excellent coverage on all the trails. We skied nicely groomed slopes, un-groomed trails and covered a lot of ground. I could not believe how great the trails were. Sunday River is BIG mountain and we covered a lot of ground. We took a run down the trail on North Peak to warm up and then rode the quad chair to the top and skied over to the Rocking Chair and went to the top of Barker Mountain where we hit some of the expert trails like Right Stuff, Top Gun and Agony and they were excellent. We explored the resort systematically and skied the more interesting trails on Aurora Peak, Spruce and Locke Mountain before lunch.
After lunch, I was on my own and I continued to check out the snow. I went over to Jordan Bowl and made a few runs. I even ventured into Oz and took a run down some of the easier black diamond trails in that part of the ski area.
I was pretty worn out when I finally called it quits and headed into the Foggy Goggle bar for a small libation. There was a funky rock band playing and the place was packed for happy hour. After a Margaretta, I picked up my skis, rode the chair and skied back to my condo.
After a little rest, I took a quick shower and headed out to hunt up some dinner. I remembered the Sunday River Brewing Company at the base of the access road, from other visits and decided to visit for dinner. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with their limited menu and the BBQ ribs that I was served. There was a talented singer/guitar player in the bar who was quite good but the sauce on the ribs was not as good as I have come to expect. Oh well, the dark beer was good.
I had tired myself out on the slopes and headed back to my room for a little well-earned sleep. The next morning I woke to the Doom and Gloom of one of the biggest storms to hit the East Coast in years. New York City and Boston were getting hit pretty hard by this Nor’ Easter and the storm was moving north. They said that the DC airport was closed and I was afraid the bad weather would still be causing havoc when I was scheduled to leave, so I called up and changed my return flight to the next day. If I was going to be snowed in, I might as well stay and ski another day.
I was up early and on the hill right after they started loading the chair. I continued to explore the trails at Sunday River. I skied many of the trails that I had skied the day before and some new ones too, like the moguls on White Heat, Shock Wave and some of the other trails on the eastern part of the resort that I had missed. I had lunch at the Baker Mt. Base Lodge among all the young racers who were there competing.
After lunch, I headed back out test my skill against the mountain. The sky had darkened and I started to work my way toward the western half of the resort. I made it over to the Jordan Bowl and skied the expert and intermediate trails served by the chairs over there. The skiing was great and I was having a ball. I covered a lot of vertical miles and skied all the interesting trails. By 3 PM, I was tired, the light was really getting flat and it was time to call it a day. I headed to my room and took a well-earned rest before dinner.
I remember that I had a excellent meal in the bar at Liam’s Restaurant. The last time I was at Sunday River, so I drove down the access road to this restaurant for dinner. The prices there are reasonable and as I was sitting at the bar studying the menu, the barmaid served a gent at the end of the bar a stake covered with shrimp. It really looked good, so I asked for the same thing. It was a wise choice. All the garlic that the shrimp was cooked in, along with the shrimp was poured over the stake and really turned this simple meal into a great one.
The other guys at the bar were friendly and I had an interesting conversation with them during dinner. I thought about doing a little night clubbing but I was tired and headed back to my condo so that I could get a good nights sleep and an early start in the morning.
I was expecting to wake to deep powder as a result of the storm but Mother Nature disappointed me. The storm dumped all its snow on NYC and Boston and had little left for Sunday River. There was just a dusting of new snow. On the positive side. The sun was shining, the air was crisp and it was an ideal day on the snow. As I was now very familiar with the trails at Sunday River, I followed the sun and had a ball skiing the empty trails. It seems that most of the people who had been there for the weekend had left and I had the mountain pretty much to myself. Lift lines had been small most of the time that weekend. On the few occasions that there was a wait, I just skied over to the “singles” line and was on the chair is just a couple of minutes.