Downhill from Here: Top ski day is topped by yet another


Last week, I told you that Sunday, Feb. 24, at Saddleback (207-864-5671; www.saddleback in Rangeley, Maine, was, for us at least, the best ski day of the 2012-13 season. In fact, it ranks high in the Top 10 ski days my wife and I have ever shared.

By all rights, it definitely should have stayed the best day of 2012-13, but it wasn't, because the next morning, we woke up to 8 more inches of fluffy, light powder on the trails, and a mountain with nobody on it.

Though she can handle any groomed trail in the East, and can even conquer some bumps, Marilyn, like many Eastern skiers, is more comfortable on hardpack than she is on powder. So she went off to practice her powder turns by herself.

A powder morning trumps any relationships, even marriage, and I went off on my own to explore the trails off the summit quad, which I reached via Peachies Peril, a black-diamond that had only one set of tracks down it.

I was all smiles by the time I reached the base of the quad, but things just got better from there. The few skiers and riders ahead of me all made a beeline to Muleskinner, one of the toughest trails in the East, and the Casablanca Glades, one of the largest gladed areas anywhere in New England.

In doing so, they by-passed Frostbite, and Black Beauty, both of which gave me spectacular runs through knee-deep fluff. Everyone seemed to be ignoring Warden's Worry and Supervisor and I got four runs on each before anyone else cut a track. I had 10 long runs in untracked powder by 10 a.m.

That took some of the edge off, and I went back to the double to see if I could find Marilyn. I wasn't ready to ski on groomed trails just yet, but Professor and Jane Craig trails still had untracked lines and Nightmare and Thrombosis Glades were almost untouched, and I made five or six (or seven) more runs before I happened to catch up to my wife.

By then, I was more than ready to ski a couple of semi-groomers with her and watch her actively seek out piles of powder. I was very proud of her.

After she quit, I took a few more glade runs before my legs, too, told me it was time to quit. It was 1 p.m. and I'd skied untracked powder almost non-stop since 9 a.m. I haven't had a day like that in a couple of years, and I can't wait for the next one!

The next morning we headed up Sugarloaf (207-237-2000; in Carrabassett Valley, Maine. Sugarloaf gets a lot more traffic than Saddleback, and to find any fresh powder we'd have had to go exploring deep into the glades.

We got there in time for first chair and spent a bluebird morning tearing up soft, smooth corduroy.

Some people scoff at corduroy snow, but on a morning like this, it's the next best thing to fresh powder and we had a ball. You can ski faster on corduroy and cover a lot more miles with less effort, and Sugarloaf is one of the best places in the world for long, fast runs down steep, smooth slopes.

These are two of our favorite mountains, and though the two are only a few miles apart as the crow flies, it takes an hour to drive from one to the other and the mountains have a very different feel. I love ‘em both. They've been getting a lot of snow lately with more in the forecast and conditions should be prime long after more southerly areas are shut down. If you want to read a comparison of the two resorts, there's one on

If you want my advice, you'll forget about choosing between Saddleback OR Sugarloaf and start making plans for Saddleback AND Sugarloaf in one trip.

Tim Jones writes about outdoor sports and travel. He can be reached at


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