Skiing Maine: 17 Mountains
Mt. Abram, Greenwood
It was nighttime, and the bar/restaurant inside Mt. Abram’s lodge was busy. It was a tough call. Either boot up now and climb Mt. Abram, or do it after a leisurely dinner. We decided to eat first, ski later. Since the lifts weren’t running, we climbed to the second knoll in the moonlight. And one after another, we clicked in and headed downhill under a shimmering sky to a hollering and cheering crowd below. Although we wouldn’t be there for it, as the lifts started to turn the next morning Mt. Abram would be transformed from a low-key bar scene into a winter wonderland for families dressed in ski and snowboard gear the next morning. mtabram.com
Sunday River, Newry
Management cranked the lifts early for us. We skied the most perfectly groomed and untouched corduroy as the sun rose, casting our morning in orange glow. Sunday River was ours for those two runs. sundayriver.com
Black Mountain of Maine, Rumford
The morning developed into a sunny, bluebird-sky day, and the reflection from the snow was nearly blinding. Everything at Black seemed to be sparkling. The downhill trails were quiet, but at the base of the mountain, where cross-country routes intersect, a crowd of parents were ringing cow bells as their Nordic-ski-racing kids shot by wearing shiny Lycra outfits. The lodge may be new, but the T-bar atmosphere is timeless. skiblackmountain.org
Titcomb Mountain, West Farmington
Even before my first run, the sound, smell, and feel of Titcomb, another community ski area, evoked memories of the mountain where I spent all my childhood winter weekends. Inside the lodge, excited kids squealed as they layered on clothing and booted up next to a huge stone fireplace, while logs crackled and scented the air with a fragrance that could be bottled and sold as “ski-lodge memories.” Outside, a dad was pulling his child, swaddled in fleece, on a wooden sled, with the family’s black Labrador puppy tagging along.
Riding up the T-bar, I scoped out Dare Devil’s Plunge to Dire Straights, a series of tight and twisty old-fashioned trails that follow the natural contour of the mountain. I skied through the mellow hero bumps — the kind that are so perfect you feel like the best skier in the world for that moment — then stopped halfway down and basked in the quiet that surrounded me. I felt utterly content with this sweet trail and its perfect snow. That run soon became my official favorite trail for this Ski Maine odyssey. Ten minutes later, and after a lunch of homemade turkey and dumpling soup made by faithful volunteers, Titcomb became my official favorite mountain for the Ski Maine odyssey.
Like many other community ski areas in Maine, this might not be your vacation destination if you’re “from away,” but if you’re a local and grow up skiing here, you’re very, very lucky. Thank goodness places like this still thrive. Progress is good, but mountains like Titcomb have a soul: They’re living memorials to a bygone era of skiing. titcombmountain.com