Some Maine Nordic centers open with snow aplenty despite rain

Vacationing New York City residents Alexandra Hagerty (left) and Garrett Steinbroner head out for a Sunday afternoon ski at Carter's Cross-Country Ski Center in Bethel. They skied Carter's trails at its Oxford Nordic center earlier in the week before the rain washed away the snow there, but the Bethel center, which opened for the season on Sunday, received more snow than rain.
Vacationing New York City residents Alexandra Hagerty (left) and Garrett Steinbroner head out for a Sunday afternoon ski at Carter's Cross-Country Ski Center in Bethel. They skied Carter's trails at its Oxford Nordic center earlier in the week before the rain washed away the snow there, but the Bethel center, which opened for the season on Sunday, received more snow than rain.
Posted Dec. 25, 2012, at 7:40 p.m.

BETHEL, Maine —Some Nordic ski centers in Western Maine opened in time for Christmas vacation, thanks to December snows that weren’t washed away by accompanying rains.

Carter’s Cross-Country Ski Center in Bethel and Oxford is one such place. The Bethel center opened its trails on Sunday for the season, offering 5 kilometers of Nordic trails that co-owner David Carter groomed Sunday morning. He’s also got 50 kilometers of snowshoe trails open.

Carter said Sunday that the center has a snow base of 6 to 12 inches.

“So we’re sitting good, and it’s a merry Christmas,” he said. He plans to continue grooming to open more trails.

But the rain washed away the snow at his Oxford business, leaving sections of trails bare.

“We don’t say the r-word; we call it liquid snow,” he said.

“We got 4 inches of snow here (in Bethel) on Friday before we got the liquid snow, but the Oxford trails are not open, because the liquid snow took away too much snow.”

Farther north, the Rangeley Lakes Trails Center opened its Nordic and snowshoe trails on Tuesday for the season. They had more snow than liquid snow, but strong winds on Saturday littered trails with tree debris.

“We were lucky, we got snow — about 30 inches — and then it rained and we lost some snow, but we’re in good shape,” employee Peter Christensen said late Sunday morning.

He said the center has an 8- to 10-inch base of groomed snow and about 20 inches of snow in nongroomed areas in the woods. They’re offering 12 kilometers of trails for snowshoeing and 15 kilometers of groomed Nordic trails on Sunday.

More trails are expected to open once employees remove tree debris. The rain left a few puddles on trails, but everything froze by Sunday morning when the temperature dropped to about 12 degrees, he said.

“Luckily, we had a deep enough base to absorb (the rain),” Christensen said. “But we couldn’t groom it yesterday — picture mashed potatoes — because it just balls up. But today, it set up nice.”

He said workers will be removing the debris each day and expect to have more trails open this week. He advised visitors to call or check their conditions’ website, which is updated daily at rangeleylakestrailscenter.com/conditions.html.

In Carrabassett Valley, the Sugarloaf/USA Outdoor Center also opened on Tuesday and as of Sunday has 3 feet of snow, according to its conditions’ website.

With temperatures in the teens, groomers were expected to be on the trails all day, “so please be aware of that as you are out on the trails,” the website stated.

The rain wasn’t kind to Titcomb Mountain in Farmington, pushing back its Dec. 22 opening to Thursday, Dec. 27.

Manager Karleen Andrews wrote Monday on Titcomb’s Facebook site that they received 8 inches of snow, “but unfortunately it was followed by two days of rain.”

More rain fell on Friday as temperatures nearly hit 50 degrees, before cold temperatures returned by Sunday morning, making snowmaking possible again.

And farther south at the Pineland Farms Outdoor Center in New Gloucester, Nordic ski trails are only open for foot traffic and pedalers, because temperatures haven’t been conducive for snowmaking.

“Until we get snow or freezing temeratures so we can make snow, you should come out and have fun on the trails with your sneakers or bicycles,” the website states.

For a list of Maine Nordic ski and snowshoe areas, visit the Maine Office of Tourism website at www.visitmaine.com/seasons/winter/activities/nordic.

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