Big Squaw-3/31/2013

IMG_0315 While you can not technically put this area in the category of “closed,” it was technically closed the couple years before we came and more than half of the mtn(the upper half) have been closed since the double chair derailed back in 2004. This was the last day of their season, which only opened half way through the season because the “friends of big squaw” convinced the owner of the mtn to lease them the mtn for $1 since he himself was not planning on opening for yet another yr, so it was pretty much just us, the locals and the friends of big squaw(who I guess would technically also be considered the locals). This was great because it really had a feeling of an old school, hometown mtn straight out of the 70s. When we arrived we were greeted at the door and asked where we were from and even got a little background on the mtn and how long had been opened for the season. We also found out a little bit about the management as well. Apparently the owner had a strew of bad luck as right after he bought the ski mtn and created a big master plan with houses and new lifts etc, the plan company he owned(small little seaplane operation based out of fl that he planned to use to bring people up from banger and portland and land in moosehead lake) crashed killing 20 something people. That same winter is when the chair derailed and then couple months later the hot water heater exploded in the hotel and ever since the master plans were scraped and as you can see the hotel has become a ghost town.IMG_0354IMG_0348 Some of the windows have been replaced with brand new ones so there is some appearance they are trying to rebuild but according to friends of squaw, they need someone else to take it over. Personally, I think this could be an amazing place because it has the things you cant create, such as good vertical and arguably the best scenery in the entire east coast with katahdin and moosehead lake right at the base. IMG_0306 They were able to get the base triple chairlift open which accesses some pretty decent beginner and intermediate terrain IMG_0309but the goods seemed to be on the upper mtn which I had been eyeing all day because they looked to have some good pitch, long runs and that old school winding, narrow new england style trail. After skiing for the morning and exploring the entire bottom section, we decided to bring our snowshoes on the lift and hike up the old Penobscot trail. All the trails are for the most part quite clear and only little shrubs are starting to pop out. IMG_0312The cover up top was great and the Penobscot trail looked like a great wide open cruiser.IMG_0315 The hike is actually a pretty long one, I would say close to 1400 vert so seeing the top of the double was a welcome site and the views from the top were once again amazing. IMG_0320 As you can see all the lift towers are still up as well as top and base shack and cables. We were told though quite a ways off from being operational and ideally would get a new lift if can get some investors. IMG_0332 I really wanted to check out mutiple trails cause they all looked very tempting but knew there would not be enough time(or energy for that matter) for a second run so knew I had to pick wisely. I went back to Maileys Glades to check them out and they were in absolutely amazing shape with really not too much undergrowth to speak of and perfectly spaced with a pretty good little pitch.IMG_0335 The map makes it look like a short little glade but I would say it was probably a solid 500 vert and dumped you out on to upper saint croix. IMG_0338 Again, quite clear. However, I was on such a glade kick that after skiing a little ways down the open trail and I saw another opening on skiers left that looked like a glade I couldnt help myself so ducked in again. Not sure if this one was actually a glade since after a while it narrowed into this massive patch of small pines that required me to trample over. That glade took me out to another intersection with the lift so I could have taken either lower piscataquis under the lift(which was much more overgrown for some reason) or lower moose river to skiers right so chose the latter. IMG_0339 This one proved to be the much better choice as was an untracked fun little pitch that again was kept very clear and in just about perfect shape.IMG_0340 The bottom of the lift is kind of eery because it is starting to overgrow a bit and you have the old base lodge(still with chairs and tables) as was left over 10 yrs ago connected to the old hotel. Kind of shining-esque. As you can see they still have all the double chairs ready to go right next to the liftIMG_0344 but again eery as when you get a little closer you can still see the cables off the track from the derailment digging into the wood at the top of the lift shack. IMG_0345 The last part of the ski trek back to the base goes through the old beginner area that I believe they hope to have cleared and ski tow up and running by next yr. IMG_0307 Overall, one of the best trips of the year. I just really hope they can get this place up and running from the top again and almost cant see how they cant. They have the unbelievable natural beauty surrounding it, an already established town at the base in greenville, some great terrain to work with and is only about 4 hrs from Boston as well. I would be surprised not to see this place become a pretty good sized resort in the future.

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