RANGELEY LAKES

Though Spring is here (really), now is not the time to be putting away your winter sports equipment.

After this record setting season, there is still plenty of snow left both on the mountains and in the woods. The sun is shining stronger and longer, bringing the spring warmth, softening snow surfaces and staying light longer for more time on the slopes.

My wife, Drew, and I decided to take advantage of some of that wonderful Spring skiing. Unfortunately, we missed the mark, visiting Saddleback Mountain on one of the coldest and windiest weekends I’ve ever experienced at the end of March. Expecting some beautiful sunshine and warm temperatures, we were instead greeted with single digit temperatures and double digit wind gusts. In over 60 years of skiing, I have never skied at 1- degree above zero at this time of year, but there it was and we had to make the best of it.

IN THE TOP PHOTO, a cool sunset is taken in, while above trails can be seen from above. Saddleback Mountain is open this weekend, with great rates on Sunday.

IN THE TOP PHOTO, a cool sunset is taken in, while above trails can be seen from above. Saddleback Mountain is open this weekend, with great rates on Sunday.

Due to the extreme wind, all the upper lifts were closed, leaving the T-bar the only lift available to reach the middle of the mountain. We were able to access 10 different trails all with very few other hardy (or crazy) souls on them and somewhat firm but very well groomed conditions. The side benefit of riding the T-bar lift was, since it is below the tree line, it kept us much warmer than riding on a chairlift on such a cold and windy day. We had to work a little to hold on and keep balanced, which helped to keep us warmer. Always a silver lining!

Saddleback is my favorite place to ski here in Maine, especially on the weekends when it feels less crowded then other mountains. With an elevation of over 4,000 feet and north facing slopes, it holds the snow well into late April. The mountain has a great mix of trails for all abilities, including the really challenging Kennebago Steeps with its gnarly trails and signature Casablanca Glades. All of the trails are named after fishing flys which are famous throughout the Rangeley Lakes area.

Our interactions with the staff, whether they were checking us into a condo, working in the cafeteria or loading you onto a lift were always very pleasant, adding to the great skiing experience here.

Saddleback also has a real community feel. Chris Farmer, the general manager, spoke to me about an intern program with the University of Maine-Farmington. Paul Friedman and Spencer Mendell started with Saddleback as interns and now worked with Chris in the marketing department of Saddleback. I asked Paul what being an intern at a major resort like Saddleback had been like. He responded, “Spencer and I were both interns through UMF. My internship doubled for the Ski Industries Program and my Business degree. Spencer’s internship was towards his ORBA degree (Outdoor Recreation Business Administration). Working as an intern at Saddleback was great. From day one we were treated as though we would be employees soon.

“Most of the time we spent working on videos and various projects that played to our strengths and previous experience. Prior to this job, I always had the impression that interns are made to do the work that no one else wants to do, but that was not the case with this job. We were given fun tasks and treated like equals.”

This seems to embody the vibe throughout the Saddleback community and you feel it when you visit there.

If you need more encouragement to check out Saddleback, they are offering some great deals to finish out the year. On Sunday, which is “Maine Day at Saddleback,” Maine residents ski and ride all day for only $ 39. Proof of residency is required. They also have a ski and stay package starting at $69 a night (you can barely stay home at this price). Check it out at bit.ly/ski-stay and enjoy this incredible deal.

If you would love to make Saddleback your “go to” next season, get a season pass for only $675. Their season passes have no black out days and are good through the rest of this season, so purchase now and ski the rest of 2015 season for free.

Get out there and enjoy some warm Spring Skiing/ riding. You have earned it.


Comments are not available on this story.