Full disclosure. I love snowboarding. While I have a complicated relationship with ski resort culture from the slicing up of beautiful mountain sides to the extraordinary high price tags on lift tickets and gear, being the mixed bag of contradictions that I am, I LOVE snowboarding. I love just being out there, riding the lift, taking in the expansive views, and traversing and exploring a mountain from top to bottom and side to side. I enjoy talking to strangers on the lift as well as the chance for deep convo with my pals.
So every fall I budget a chunk of change for some snowboarding adventures and then I find the deals by booking early. Stud and I go the Boston Ski and Snowboard expo and load up on 2 for 1 deals, expo specials and try to win free lift tickets and grab coupons and see what we can do. We mostly plan day trips with an overnight here and there. Our big trip is Sugarloaf. We book it at the expo getting a really sweet deal on a slope side studio with 3-day lift tickets. By November we know exactly when we are going snowboarding, where, and how much. Then we pray for snow.
Our Sugarloaf trip has become a high holiday. I look forward to it all year long and it feeds me for months afterwards. It is such a fun mountain and a friendly community of die hard locals and an incredible treat to go on a ski resort vacation with one of my best pals who makes me laugh and is a blast to be with.
Sugarloaf is in Maine on the Appalachian Trail and across the valley are the Bigelows which was where I went on my first ever backpacking overnight with Bear Bait. Looking over at them makes me so nostalgic. I can remember looking across the valley from the Stratton Pond campsite looking at Sugarloaf. Carabasset Valley is a beautiful and rugged area with so much outdoorsy stuff to do and a connected local community.
One of my favorite parts of my Sugarloaf vacation with Stud is waking up early and drinking coffee in front of the TV watching the local access station which has interviews with small business owners and local legends and funny commercials. Then we suit up and head out for the day skiing to the lift that brings us to the base. We stash a backpack in the base lodge with our water bottles and pb&j’s and snacks. We stash some snacks in our pockets and we’re off!
We methodically traverse the mountain east to west following the sun alternating between our favorite trails and exploring new spots. We throw ourselves down the hard stuff while we’re fresh doing the double black diamonds first thing in the morning or right after lunch. We find untouched snow and ride thru it hooting and hollering chopping up fresh lines as often as possible. We dip into the woods. We relax and stretch ourselves out on some easier terrain. We take our time trying to be in the moment of it all, the trees, the views, the fresh air, the feeling of flying, the expansiveness. We go hard till our legs feel like jelly. We make our way back down past the base area all the way down to our studio where we literally ski right up to the outdoor jacuzzis situated outside the of the fitness center. We drag ourselves inside and kick off our boots and our endless layers that kept us safe from frostbite and made it possible to be outside on a mountain all day in no degrees. We change into dry cotten and click on the fireplace, eat snacks and watch tv until we are revived. Then we head to the outdoor jacuzzis in our tomboy swim wear and the staff let us know where ALL the bathrooms are covering all bases with grace. We smile at everyone and say thank you a lot. Everyone is really nice. Even the bro-dude we shared a chairlift with who told us about his ex girlfriends gift of unwanted boxers that ended up in the “Mardi Gras” tree. (Inevitable at every ski mountain some poor or lucky tree along a chairlift line becomes the target of many bras and beaded necklaces). Bro-dude was some kind of local legend and when we asked him if he lived in Maine he told us his name as if we we must have heard of him. As if he was like “I’m Cher!?!” He talked to us as if we were maybe these 15 years old mini bro-dudes who not only knew who he was but probably worshipped the guy given his legendary status. It was very entertaining. Bro-dude was stoked on us and fist bumped Stud like five times on the chairlift. Ha. Bro-dude asks us what our favorite trail is and is pumped when we tell him it’s “Binder” which he tells us was Seth Wescott’s old training ground. Seth Wescott is an Olympic Snowboard Cross champion who came up from Sugarloaf. Snowboard Cross is a snowy racetrack with high banks and sharp high turns and rolling humps that will set you air born at high speeds. Before Sugarloaf had a commercialized bordercross track, Seth Wescott built up the banks on this trail called “binder” which is a narrow curvy wooded steep trail with naturally high banks on the sides that are really fun to carve up and down. Bro-dude tells us he helped Seth work on it (I assume with shovels in the summer) and then they had races on it (in the winter). Bro-dude warns us about a big rock high up on on a bank on “binder” that has taken out many a skier. I never noticed the rock in all my runs down “binder” and then there it was! I missed it by a hair! Thank you bro-dude! Ha.
Thank you Sugarloaf. See you next year.