On a recent quiet evening in front of a blazing fire after another wonderful early season day on the slopes, my mind began wandering to see if here in Maine, with our abundance of fabulous winter recreation opportunities, past and present, I could come up with a match for every letter in the alphabet.

Here, with a little literary license and only a modicum of research, are the results of a most enjoyable journey through the alphabet, back in time and around Maine:

A Mount ABRAM is a national model for environmental sensitivity with its efforts to become energy independent through renewable energy. And how many of you remember ALDEN’S Hill in Gorham?

B BIG Squaw is finally being revived thanks to volunteers. There’s even a rumor flying around Greenville that there may be plans afoot for the installation of a lift to the top, replacing the defunct double. Stay tuned. Of course BIG Rock in Mars Hill, BLACK Mountain in Rumford and BAKER in Bingham deserve mention as still-surviving areas. And BELFAST once boasted two rope-tow hills.

C At CAMDEN Snow Bowl, this season’s big news is about two new chairs, a carpet lift, expanded snowmaking and recontoured terrain. And down at the foot of the old COLBY Ski Slope in Waterville, there’s a growing network of exceptional Nordic trails. Not to mention the great trails at CARTERS Cross Country Center in Bethel.

D Of the nearly 80 lost ski areas that helped introduce Mainers to skiing in the 1930s through the 1950s, there are some of us who can still remember DEER Hill with its 1,200-foot rope tow near Harrison, DUNDEE Heights in North Gorham and DUTTON Hill Ski Area in Windham. And join me in wishing Sugarloaf’s long-standing head honcho, John DILLER, a happy retirement come spring.

E What great news that EATON Mountain in Skowhegan will once again be open for skiing this year. Did you know that even EASTPORT boasted its own area, and ESSEX Street Hill in Bangor was a hotbed for local skiers. And how about the spectacularly unsuccessful venture in Lovell, EVERGREEN Valley?

F FORT Kent has its own, still-operating and very popular area, Lonesome Pine, that hosts local skiers every Friday from 3 to 9 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

G GORHAM Kiwanis slope in Gorham once buzzed with excitement, as grandmothers would knit mittens as Christmas presents so their kids’ kids could wear them out on the rope tow.

H HERMON Mountain outside of Bangor is not only a survivor, it thrives with a large following of devoted Penobscot County skiers and boarders. Some of us remember Don HOTHAM’S Slope overlooking the Androscoggin River in Auburn, although I never did make it over to HOBB’S Hill in Harrison

I Up in ISLAND Falls, in Aroostook Country, a local osteopath, Dr. Bill Daniels, built and ran May Mountain back in the 1960s, introducing lots of locals to the sport.

J A short distance south of JACKMAN, on nearly 4,000-foot Coburn Mountain, a chairlift was installed in the 1960s on what would be called Enchanted Mountain, and the area operated for several years. JOCKEY Cap in Fryeburg was the site of Maine’s first rope tow. A notable surviving area is family-owned Mount JEFFERSON in Lee, still running its lift every Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

K KENTS Hill slope is the training site for the students at the school of the same name. KING’S Mountain Slope in Bangor and KIMBALL’S Hill down in Kennebunk are now only distant memories, although lots of older Maine skiers share fond ones of both.

L LOST Valley, now gearing up for another season thanks to an outpouring of local support, is one of the proud, 19 still-operating Alpine ski area members of the Ski Maine Association.

M MAGGIE’S Mountain in Freeport and MAPLE Hill Slope in Sinclair, both in the dust bin of ski area antiquity, once welcomed novices to the new sport of Alpine skiing … with wood skis and jar rubber bindings. Anyone remember Hillside in MONROE?

N NORWAY was once the home for both NO-Par Ski Area and the NORWAY-Paris Outing Club

O OQUOSSOC once boasted Shelton Noyes’ Bald Mountain, with its spectacular view overlooking Mooselookmeguntic Lake.

P I remember teaching the Officers Wives Ski Club at Loring Air Force Base how to make their first tentative turns on the PRESTILE Ski Slope, right in downtown Caribou. We can still enjoy POWDERHOUSE Hill in South Berwick, made even better this year with the addition of manmade snow. And PINNACLE continues in Pittsfield. For Nordic skiers, there’s PINELAND Farms in New Gloucester.

Q A short distance down the road from Caribou, in Presque Isle, QUOGGY Jo continues to operate under the auspices of Maine Winter Sports as part of its training program.

R The RANGELEY Lakes Trail Center features nearly 70 kilometers of groomed cross-country trails

S The jackpot letter for Maine skiers! SADDLEBACK in Rangeley, SHAWNEE Peak in Bridgton, SPRUCE Mountain in Livermore Falls, SUGARLOAF in Carrabassett and SUNDAY RIVER in Newry are all thriving facilities, combining to host hundreds of thousands of Mainers and out-of-staters from November to May. And lest we forget, laughter once rang out on the slopes at both SCOTTIE’S and SPRUCE Street Tows in Rumford, STARK’S Hill in Fryeburg and Jim Perry’s SILVER Hills in Chelsea, as well as SAND Hill in Augusta.

T TITCOMB Mountain is the jewel of southern Franklin County in Farmington, famous for its long history of producing first-class competitors and instructors. And during my college years, we got in lots of night skiing on the 700-foot T-bar at Sky Hy Park in TOPSHAM.

U This is the year that I’ll be making an overdue trip UP to Aroostook to visit The County’s four currently-operating areas … and I can’t wait.

V Speaking of Aroostook, The County once boasted among its many operating rope tow areas the VAN Buren Ski Way. VEAZIE in Penobscot County also had its own area. And let’s not forget the tow at Oak Grove-Coburn School in VASSALBORO.

W And then there was WHITE Bunny ski area in Fort Fairfield. WESTERN View in Augusta was at one time one of two areas in the city operating at the same time.

X My last X-RAY for a broken leg was over a decade ago … and I’ll be happy to wait another dozen years for my next one.

Y YORK once had its own ski area, Mt. Agamenticus, with a 500-foot vertical, a chairlift and a T-bar. But it preceded snowmaking, hence its demise.

Z Years ago, when I owned Saddleback, an irate customer, upset with the icy conditions, screamed at me, “What did you groom with last night, a ZAMBONI?”

John Christie is a former ski racer and ski area manager and owner, a ski historian and member of the Maine Ski Hall of Fame. He and his son, Josh, write columns on alternating weeks. He can be reached at:

[email protected]