Sunday River was the first ski area east of the Mississippi to open for the season two day ago. That certainly got my attention. Sunday River has opened for Halloween these past two years but it was a surprise to see the resort pulling out all the stops during an extremely below average temperature month of October. Having to work on Saturday and having other commitments on Sunday, I arranged to leave work early on Friday to get my first turns of the season.
My excitement for first turns of the season had my mind out of sorts as I missed the Barker Lodge turn off and ended up at the main lodge unloading my gear. After a quick reality check, I was soon at an empty Barker Lodge getting my $25.00 lift ticket and buckling into my new boots. First day of the season is no way to break in new boots, but no pain no gain as they say!
Uploading on the Locke Triple was sensational with great colors still lingering despite being past peak. The transition from just colors to colors with snow was sensational and vibrant. Views were sensational from the top of Locke Mountain with a relatively clear day and views to the Presidentials off the backside. T2 was the only open run with downloading on the Locke Triple Chair as Sunday Punch was not yet ready for top to bottom traffic.
Having arrived late in the day, I was treated to sun baked snow, above freezing temperatures, and broken in snow. Tentative turns were not allowed on T2 which presented an abnormal mogul field. The bumps were generally soft and forgiving but not quite spring corn. Suffice to say, my legs were burning in short order. But I was delighted to be skiing something other than a groomed run on my first day of the season!
Crowds were non-existent with no more than three dozen skiers and riders on the mountain during the afternoon and very much spread out. If you did not stop, you can easily enjoy the entire length of T2 by yourself. A rail was setup off to the side of the trail for those interested.
Sunday Punch had snow coverage but did not look ready for prime time. Not even thin coverage prime time. Patrol noted that they were going to shovel in the holes to give the snow makers a slight advantage in their efforts to open top to bottom for the weekend. Whether that happens remains to be seen. But the mountain seems strongly motivated to ensure that happens. With a significant amount of die hards preparing to get their first turns this weekend, it seems essential that a trail be offered top to bottom to ensure the lift runs at full speed and constant stopping for every tenth chair will not be required.
After about eight runs, the sun dipped below the ridge line and the snow on T2 had become rather firm. Despite wanting to milk every minute for all it was worth, I thought it wise to call it a day rather than flail around in bumps starting to freeze solid.
Overall, this was a splendid way to start the season! Hopefully Sunday River can keep blowing snow and open again next weekend. If that happens, I will be back for more! October turns rule!