Shawnee Peak is known for its night skiing and is darned proud of it. With that said, however, the mountain has always been subject to the wrath of southern Maine weather or as I like to call it “smeather. ” (Yes, I made that up).
As everyone knows, we seem to go from frozen dead grass to 8 inches of snow, then to 8 inches of something the resembles snow but is more like white concrete. So as you can imagine Shawnee Peak has some of the most sporadic natural snow conditions around, which makes their grooming and snowmaking that much more important. Especially at night.
Take the recent night I was there. The wind was blowing incredibly hard. Some trails had nice powder and great conditions–in places. But other spots had ice patches as big my car. Skiing that night became more like a game of minesweeper with you trying to guess as you headed down the trails where exactly that ice patch would be on this run. Hint: it usually wasn’t in the same place as last run.
Conditions were windy, and when I say windy, I MEAN WINDY. Wind was so bad they shut down the summit triple. (This was the same day the wind had blown the cable off a tower at Sugarloaf, so I don’t entirely blame them.) Even at the top of the quad on the east side of the mountain, I was easily blown around by the wind. This didn’t help the snow either as I actually saw patches of powder disappear into the woods.
So conditions weren’t great that night. No ski area can control the weather. Regardless of the conditions that particular night, something has to be said about the community at Shawnee. I have never seen so many people perfectly happy to cram into one part of a medium-sized mountain Spirits were high and people were having fun. Maybe they should change Shawnee’s name back to Pleasant Mountain. It certainly fits. Most of the time.
Whether intentionally or just because of its location and price, Shawnee attracts a younger crowd. Tons of events are held here, from freestyle to racing, and companies love to come here and give away free swag to entice customers. If you’re looking for a quiet peaceful place to get away with your significant other or to get away from annoying kids like me, this is not the place to go, at least not at night on a school vacation week. I hear the mornings can be pretty quiet, though.
One thing I always remember when talking about Shawnee is to make sure people judge it on its own merit. This mountain is less than an hour away from the Portland metro area. They play the cards that are dealt to them and play them very well. As always, I recommend this mountain to everyone looking for a winter night’s fun. Especially when the wind isn’t blowing that hard.