I had so much fun today. A few weeks ago, as I was browsing the Sugarloaf Mountain website for events, I learned that there was going to be a craft fair this weekend. If you aren’t familiar with Sugarloaf, I’ll tell you that it’s a gigantic ski mountain up here in Maine. It’s enormous and to prove it to you, I have some stats. It’s the second largest ski mountain east of the Mississippi at 1,230 acres, it’s got a vertical drop of 2,820 feet and it has 54 miles of marked trails. I know I took a few photos during our last visit, which didn’t portray the enormity of this resort, but hopefully today’s pictures will do it some justice.
Before I begin writing though, I want to tell you that I may have been bitten by the snowboarding bug once again. The last time I went was in 2001 and I only lasted a half hour because of fatigue. My calves just didn’t have it in them. I went with an 18 year old and he ran circles around me. How embarrassing, especially after my earlier snowboarding success during college in 1998. Back then, you couldn’t keep me off the mountains and while everyone else was inside taking a breaks and eating lunch, I was riding 90 miles per hour down whatever mountain we happened to be visiting that day. You couldn’t stop me. It’s a shame those times are over. I’ve enjoyed this sport across quite a few venues in New York, Massachusetts and Vermont.
While I may have been bitten by the bug, I doubt I’ll act on it. I don’t know why. I really should. I have friends up here who ski and snowboard that mountain every day and I could easily be with them, capturing tons of photos and video for this blog. I’ll have to think about it. We’ll see what happens. It’s just that after seeing the clear skies, the snow and breathing that cold air today, I’m exhilarated. It’s really something to feel that vibe at the mountain. Like I wrote in the title of this post, it’s pretty awesome. I mean, I only live 45 minutes away, so it’s a real possibility.
We were on a mission today. First and foremost, we needed to pick up some coffee at the Carrabassett Coffee Company. This place has the good stuff and they are set up right in Kingfield, which is slightly south of Sugarloaf. They have a small store at the front of the building with the remainder being committed to roasting and other things. It’s like we’re getting coffee straight from the factory.
Saturdays and Sundays are tough at the coffee factory. They close rather early, so the few times we’ve been in the area over the past year, we’ve missed out. Today though, we got up nice and early and hit the road. We had plenty of time to spare and rewarded ourselves with three pounds of some very dark roast. For me, with coffee and beer, the darker the better. Hopefully, it’ll last us a little while. Until we can get back up there, at least.
It’s so crazy feeling to drive into Sugarloaf. I swear I think I’ve been there during the winter in the past, but I might be mistaken. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the mountain in operation.
I’ll tell you, it’s nuts. There are shuttle buses running all over the place, people everywhere and snow makers running full blast. As you can see from the photo above, all that mist is the snow makers doing what they do.
Okay, so let me go through some photos here. I have a pretty good number of them and they’re all related. I’ll try to be as succinct as possible.
The shuttle bus dropped us off right near the entrance to the Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel. The coolest part of this area is that one of the smaller chairlifts goes right through the buildings.
Here’s a photo of the entrance of the hotel. That steam you see is coming from a heated pool that’s right past that railing.
From the same spot, I turned around and snapped a photo of the area where the chairlift came from. The mountains in the background are part of the Bigelow Preserve.
I’m assuming one of those is Bigelow Mountain itself.
After we walked up the steps, we found ourselves at the base of the mountain, near the lodge. This is where everyone parks their skis while they go inside getting something to eat. There’s a lot of foot traffic in this area. We were actually standing around doing two things. We wanted to locate the craft fair as well as find a friend of mine who works in one of the stores. I took a few photos in this area.
For some reason, I think this building is a sugar shack. I got this idea from our last visit. I seem to remember some sort of maple syrup sign on the side of it the last time we where here.
There were tons of skis all over the place, especially in the rack. There were many just lying down in the snow as well. Sort of parked there for the time being. I don’t know about you, but I’d be a little freaked out by leaving my skis or snowboard just sitting around while I was inside grabbing something to eat. I wonder if anything ever gets stolen.
I think one of Sugarloaf’s primary businesses is their collection of condos. They are all over the place, scattered throughout the woods. I’m curious if one of them would be a good investment to rent out.
Since my friend did some carpentry work in the Burton store a while back, I thought he worked his regular job in there. We went in to ask around.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t up there. Apparently, he works a few stores away at the Downhill Supply Company. But since we were up on the second level, I decided to get some photos of the lodge.
A really cool feature of the lodge is their fire pit on the patio. There are chairs situated around it so you can relax and warm up. I’m sure this is very nice after it gets dark.
From the available evidence, I suspect the restaurant in the lodge is called The Widowmaker.
Maybe that’s the name of the lodge itself.
We went down to see my friend in the Downhill Supply store. We found him, but he was really busy. He did drop everything to hang out with us a bit though, which was really nice. He even gave us a tour and showed off some of his custom work. He did a lot, but this is all I got a picture of. This counter area is made out of real ash wood. He cut everything up and fastened each piece to some backing. That’s a genius idea, if you ask me.
This counter top was cut from old logs that were sunk in a lake up north a very long ago. Someone pulled them up and sold them. Jarrod cut them up and made these counter tops out of them. Another genius idea. They are really incredible to see in person.
As we were leaving, we saw a small holiday arrangement in the entryway. I sat down to rest my feet and to snap a photo.
And just in case you were wondering what the Downhill Supply Company sells, here it is. Googles, gloves, snowboards, poles, boots and everything else you’d need while visiting Sugarloaf Mountain. The place was packed, so they are very successful with what they’re doing.
The entrance to this store is located in a small alleyway, along with the entrances to a few other stores. There are restaurants and other types of retail establishments. I grabbed some photos of random signs merely because they looked interesting.
A few steps down, I also managed to get a shot of a small bridge that traverses a stream that flows through the buildings.
These next two photos represent quintessential skiing. I mean, I couldn’t leave the mountain without something like this.
After all of this, we made our way to the hotel, which we discovered the craft fair was in. It was up on the second floor and it was a bit hidden. Nevertheless, it was really nice and the vendors were selling some unique and interesting pieces. We didn’t get anything. Really, we rarely do. These things are just a reason to get out and go to the mountain. Perhaps if someone is selling some neat (cheap) little item, I’ll pick it up, but otherwise, I’m fine with just browsing around. I didn’t get any photos of the fair because it was so small. I’m not sure if the vendors would appreciate that.
On our way out, I took a few more photos (okay, a lot more). I narrowed the bunch down to these below. I think they’re fairly obvious, but I’ll give a blurb about each one because that’s just the way I am.
This is a beautiful photo of the sun shining high over Sugarloaf Moutain.
Next up is some mist from the snow makers in the background. These people are waiting in line for one of the larger quad chair lifts.
Here are a few skiers on one of the chairlifts heading up the mountain.
This is a woman doing what’s called the snowplow. I picked that term up back when I was 19 during my very first skiing experience. I did a lot of the snowplow.
And here’s a young man slowing down on his snowboard. He’s almost at the bottom of the hill.
The mountain doesn’t look that big until you see tiny little people skiing down it. At that point, things become clear. It’s a big mountain.
Finally, as my last photo, I have some more small people skiing under the chairlift fairly far away. I had to zoom in all the way to get this one.
I just love that snow in the background. It looks so fierce.
Well, that’s all I have for today. I hope you enjoyed this post about our adventure up at Sugarloaf Mountain today. We had a lot of fun. Until next time. Thanks for reading!
Riding the Chairlift at Sugarloaf For Homecoming Weekend
This post is a few weeks late. My apologies. I have had a huge folder full of photos sitting in front of me all this time and I’ve been procrastinating so much every time I look at it. Last night, I decided that today is the day. Fellow Mainers and interested parties around the world must see what Sugarloaf looks like in the fall. I feel as if it’s my duty to show it off.
Each year, Sugarloaf Mountain hosts what’s called “Homecoming Weekend.” This weekend is full of events and small shows. The skyride is open and inside the lodge, all sorts of stuff is going on. There’s a book sale that we went to and purchased a few books from and there’s also a pretty good sized art and craft show. The book sale was organized by one of the local town libraries and the art show was organized by UpCountryArtists. Overall, the weekend is a lot of fun for many people and each year, we look forward to going to one event or another up there. It’s fun to drive to that area and it’s always a good time walking around the mountain.
This year, I took a whole lot of pictures. In this post, I’m going to post what I think is interesting. I hope you enjoy viewing the photos as much as I enjoyed taking them. It really was an entertianing day up in that crisp mountain air. There’s nothing like Maine air in the autumn.
The book sale was on the bottom floor of the Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel. As I said, we purchased a few books from that and then climbed up to the top floor to leave the hotel through a secret exit I found. Before leaving though, I thought I’d remember the moment by taking a photo of one of the hallways. I wanted to show you what the inside of the place looked like.
For a hotel that’s overrun by skiers in the winter, it’s pretty nice.
After we exited the hotel, we noticed a pretty sweet looking hot tub. Check this out.
How nice would it be to relax in this while it’s snowing on you? I mean, c’mon.
The art show was held in the main lodge. In one of the big rooms they hold events like this in. It was a very nice show. We really only spend a few minutes at things like this because it’s not in my nature to randomly purchase things. There was some quality workmanship though.
Here are two fairly lousy shots of inside of the show.
I think what’s more interesting to me is the huge beams holding the ceiling up, but that’s just me.
After the show, we went outside to check out the scene. Of course, there were tons of people out there, milling about.
The main event for the day was really the sky ride. That’s the whole reason we went up there. I’m not sure about everyone else, but I do enjoy climbing mountains during the fall. To get to the lift, however, we had to walk past all the restaurants and the shops. Here’s a sign for The Bag & Kettle Brew Pub. I thought that looked interesting.
And here are a few of the shops. As we passed by, we saw a bunch of people gearing up for some zip-line fun. They were all getting into their harnesses. That’s something I may try in the future. I may not too. I’ll have to see what type of mood my old age brings me.
Luckily the chairlift that was in operation was the big quad. I’m glad it wasn’t one of those smaller two-person ones. I was so excited to get on the lift to start climbing the mountain because it’s been so long since I had done that. He we are riding up the lift.
Well, that first one isn’t of us. It’s of a few random people who were in front of us.
I have about 100 photos of our time on the lift. I’m going to show you only the more attractive ones. I’ll pare things down to just a few photos. They can get tiresome after a while. While we were on the lift, everything was beautiful, but after we got home and I went through my photos, I realized that I took the same shot like 50 times. Hey, it happens.
Here’s a nice one of the western Maine mountains.
Here’s one of a dead tree that I found intriguing. The mountains are in the background as well and I think they make this somewhat of an attractive shot.
When we made it to the top, we saw that there were a good amount of people up there. I was surprised at that because it wasn’t like there were tons of people down at the base. The views were pretty though and I don’t use what word often. If I only had a beer in my hand. That would have made everything better.
Here’s a shot of some of the people who were wandering around, along with the sweet view of the western Maine mountains. Isn’t it interesting how they turn blue, the farther away they are?
And here’s the base lodge and all the other building that we came from.
The biggest issue we faced during the entire day was the long line of people who were waiting to descend the mountain on the lift. On our way up, folks who were walking down the mountain warned us of the wait, but since we were already on the lift, there was nothing we could do about that. Apparently, ski lifts were meant to bring people to the top of the mountain, not to the bottom. So there are some weight considerations to take. While we were able to fill every seat on the way up, we were only able to fill every fourth seat on the way down. That created a line with a wait time of about an hour. It wasn’t that bad though because we met a fellow amateur photographer who we spoke with the entire time. That was fun.
Here’s a photo I took while we were descending Sugarloaf.
After we made it to the bottom and walked back to the parking lot where our car was, we noticed a few things that caught our attention. First was a huge plowing machine that had monster truck tires on it. Check this out.
And just to prove how large the tires were, I stood next to one. I know, I look especially dorky in this picture. Please be kind.
The other really neat thing we saw was a spool of cable that is used for the chairlifts. How often do you see something like this?
And that’s about it. After we left the mountain, we stopped in Kingfield for some lunch at Longfellow’s, like we always do and then we went home. Overall, I’d say it was a pretty good day. The weather was beautiful and sunny in the morning and then turned overcast later on in the day. We’re used to that though because that happens all the time up here. Until next time!
Sugarloaf Homecoming Weekend & The Narrow Gauge Trail
What a weekend. Laura and I have been taking advantage of the wonderful autumn weather and have been traveling back and forth, across the state. This past Sunday, we stopped by Sugarloaf mountain for their homecoming weekend. And if that wasn’t enough, when we left there, we walked for a bit on the Narrow Gauge trail. We learned a few things and if I ever wanted an ATV, it’s now.
I’ve got a whole bunch of pictures for you, so I may as well get going with them. I’ll try to write some descriptions as I go.
Whenever we go to these types of events at ski mountains, it’s a gamble whether or not it’s going to be jam packed with people or not. Luckily, we went on Sunday and Saturday was more popular. The vendors at the show told us there were many more visitors the previous day. This is good because it left a lot of room on the roadways for folks like us. Even though it was overcast up until about 5PM, the weather was perfect.
If you ever decide to visit Sugarloaf mountain, you’ll most likely be in awe from its size. It’s not until you turn around in the parking lot that you get a view of Bigelow Preserve across the Carrabassett Valley. Talk about mountains. Geesh.
While the primary event for the weekend was an art show in the base lodge, there were many people hanging around outside. Also, the lift was operational and transporting people to the top of the mountain. The zip lines were open and the Segway tours were in full effect.
I swear, if I still had my snowboard, I think I’d head up to Sugarloaf this winter. I’m not sure what I would do up there, but it certainly would be an excuse to get out and enjoy nature. I think it would be pretty cool to stand on snow that’s like twenty feet deep.
This is a photo (obviously) of the chairlift. Laura and I usually go for a ride up these things, but unfortunately, we didn’t have beer in our hands. Also, with the light disappearing so fast this time of year, I didn’t want to spend all day at Sugarloaf. I wanted to do a little walking on the Narrow Gauge trail as well.
I’m not sure how far the Narrow Gauge pathway (a.k.a. Carrabassett River Trail) runs, but I’ll tell you, it’s a gem. It’s great for walking, riding bikes, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, whatever… And the best part is that the trailhead offers access to both the walking (pedestrian) trail as well as the snowmobile and ATV trail system. It’s all right up there and it’s all legal. I’m still in disbelief that cops don’t try to hunt you down up here when you’re riding ATVs. It’s a foreign concept.
There are a few signs hanging around the area. Some tell you how far the walking trail is and others tell you how to get to and how far away the huts are. Check out Maine Huts & Trails for information on that. If you like back country hiking and riding, they’re probably for you.
I’ll tell you, there was a lot of picture taking while walking this pathway. It was slow going. The nice part is that the sun came out just as we rounded the half way mark. What a difference a little light makes with these autumn leaves.
Just as the pathway begins heading up hill, there’s a small sign tucked away in the woods. It reads “The Caboose.” It’s at the beginning of a small mountain biking trail that leads through the thick, towards the Carrabassett River. If you’ve never seen the Carrabassett River, it’s quite the spectacle. Tons and tons of huge rocks and when it’s running, it’s really running. Luckily for us, it wasn’t running very fast.
The mountain bikers require wooden walkways. We hikers don’t need them, but they’re nice anyway.
I used this photo as an example editing project for my other website. If you’re interested in how to edit in Adobe Camera Raw, you should check out that post. If you do, you’ll see how I go about making these photos the way I do.
I’m not sure if this is Laura’s shot or mine. Either way, I’m sure this is part of the reason why people come visit northern New England in fall.
This one is definitely hers. She had the better lens and was able to capture nice, up close shots. I had the wide angle lens, which was good for some, but definitely not as much.
This is the footbridge that crosses the Carrabassett River. Right across the bridge is where we parked the car.
Last, but not least, we’ve for the Sugarloaf Regional Airport. We parked right at the northen end of this airport, directly behind Moose Alley bowling and the J.V. Wing Snowmobile Club. Pretty awesome access, if you ask me.