by Paul Maraschiello


When I checked the snow report, they were calling for snow showers in Maine. As I looked out the window of the plane, it looked like the snow was really coming down. There wasn't much snow on the ground at the airport, so I thought the ride from Manchester, N.H. to Bethel, Maine would be a piece of cake. As I drove to the highway, I noted that the snow had really started to accumulate on the road. I was a little ticked off by the slow speed of the cars on the highway. Finally, I noticed that there were three snow plows in front of all the traffic. Ok, I said to myself, I'll just stay in line in this snowplow convoy. I'll get there in one piece. It was pretty slow going. The snow plows finally pulled off the road and we were on our own.

I made most of the trip on the highway driving 45-50 MPH. This seemed to be a safe speed as the miles clicked away. Finally, I arrived in Maine and there was even more snow on the road. Evidently, Sunday River had sacrificed a virgin to Thor to insure an excellent snowy surface for my visit.

They were putting me up at the Grande Summit Hotel, a fancy ski-in, ski-out facility with all the amenities, including a heated outdoor pool and hot tub adjacent to their health club. The room was very nice with a splendid view and I was psyched to be at one of the best ski areas in the East.

In the morning, I was up early to catch a few "freshies". I walked out the door, looked up the hill and put on my skies. I skied down to the chair lift and began to explore the mountain. I've skied Sunday River several times and really like this ski area. After three or four runs, I was ready for a little breakfast, so I headed to the nearest lodge for a doughnut and a cup of coffee.

When I entered the Baker Lodge, there were a couple of volunteers standing in front of a board where they had posted the chairs that were closed because of the wind. As a precaution, they had closed a few chair lifts. I hadn't noticed because I had not made it over to that part of the mountain but when I finished my coffee and HUMONGOUS cinnamon swirl doughnut I saw the large line at the high-speed quad breaking up because they had just closed that chair. I got in line at the #4 chair and really enjoyed Irish music that was blasting. From that chair, I was able to access a lot of great trails. Agony was really great, so I took a few runs. I did Top Gun and Right Stuff, along with a couple of runs down Lazy River.

I had lunch in Shipyard Bar the White Cap Lodge. I enjoyed the conversation of the other people at the bar and I can recommend the chili. I took a few more runs after lunch that included runs down White Heat and Obsession. I was getting a little tired, so I headed back to my room at the Grand Summit. I checked my skis in the free ski check and then changed into my swim suit. I was heading for the heated pool and a sojourn in the hot tub. It turned out to be a very social dip and I had fun telling everyone in the hot tub my "professional" evaluation of ski areas in the East and out West.

For happy hour, I stopped into the bar at the Grand Summit Hotel and ran into some folks I had met on the chair lift. I wound up chatting with them and some of the other folks at the bar for a while. I decided to go to dinner at a local favorite called Liam's on the access road. I had eaten at the bar there before and found the food to be good and the prices reasonable. After dinner, I headed to the Matterhorn for a little beer and entertainment. There was a lively band playing and a nice crowd of skiers and snowboarders that ranged from young singles to people my age, all having fun. I drank a beer and enjoyed the music and dancing but I was fading fast, so I headed back to my room.

I was up early and headed to the slopes. The entire mountain was open but I never even made it to the chairs that were closed the day before. The conditions were soo good on all the trails I had skied the day before, I just kept skiing trails on the Eastern half of the ski area. With seven mountains 15 chair lifts and miles and miles and miles of trails. I skied almost all the trails on White Cap, Locke Mountain, Baker Mountain, and even a couple of trails on Spruce Peak and Aurora Peak. I had to leave the expert trails on Oz and Jordan Bowl for another trip. Sunday River is so big that you need more than two days to enjoy everything they have to offer. There are a lot of trails to please skiers of every level. From expert to novice, intermediate to ski pro, whatever you want, Sunday River has something that is just your cup of tea. In my opinion, this is a really great ski area and should be on everybody's MUST LIST who skis in the East. If you ski Sunday River you know what I mean and if you have never skied there, make plans for a visit. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
by Paul Maraschiello