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Carey Kish

Carey Kish of Mount Desert Island has been adventuring in the woods and mountains of Maine for, well, a long time. If there’s a trail—be it on dirt, rock, snow, water or pavement—he will find it, explore it, and write about it. Carey is a two-time Appalachian Trail thru-hiker, Registered Maine Guide, author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast, editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide (10th ed.), and has written a hiking & camping column for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram since 2003. Follow his outdoor travels and musings here, and on Facebook/CareyKish. Let Carey know what you think at MaineOutdoors@aol.com.

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Maineiac Outdoors with Carey Kish
Posted: February 23, 2014

No faking the good news at Camden Snow Bowl

Landon Fake is one of the nicest people you could ever want to meet and a guy who knows as much about the Maine woods and waters as just about anybody around.

Fake is the new General Manager of the Camden Snow Bowl as well as the Parks & Recreation Director for the Town of Camden. And on a recent ski visit to the mountain I caught up with him to see how his new life and job in Camden was going.

Landon Fake is the new General Manager of the Camden Snow Bowl. Photo © Carey Kish.

I met Landon three years ago  in Bethel when I was there to gin up some information on new trails for the Maine Mountain Guide and a few newspaper columns. At that time he had recently left his long time position as director of the Hurricane Island Outward Bound Wilderness School in the deep woods of Newry at the base of the Mahoosuc Range, and was in the early stages of forging a new non-profit to develop and promote a recreational trail network in the Bethel region.

That effort was ultimately successful, and Mahoosuc Pathways was formed. That initiative, plus consulting work, kept Fake pretty busy for several years, until…

Late last summer the job at Camden Snow Bowl was advertised. Friends of Fake called the Camden gig “the perfect job for me,” he said, and urged him to apply. So he went through the application and interview process and, lo and behold, “they hired me.”

Ask me and I’ll tell you the folks in Camden made a pretty darn good choice.

At the Snow Bowl, Fake works with a budget of something in the area of $700,000, and manages 12 full-time staff, 90 seasonal employees and more than 40 volunteers.

The Camden Snow Bowl has operated on Ragged Mountain for more than 70 years. Photo © Carey Kish.

“There are a lot of good people here, a solid management team. They do their jobs. I just stir the pot,” Fake said with a big grin. “I love the idea of the community ski area and how it’s focused on kids, owned by the community, and with a long history of connection to the community.”

Fake appears to have settled in pretty quickly to the Camden job, which he started last October, displaying a comfort and confidence that he’s in the right place, doing the right thing.

“It’s a better opportunity, a better fit here. As the executive director of a small non-profit (Mahoosuc Pathways), I had to do everything as well as try to move the organization forward. Now I’ve got people around,” Fake said.

This is an exciting time for the Camden Snow Bowl, and it’s the potential for a very bright future that drew Fake to the Mid-coast.

The Camden Snow Bowl has operated on Ragged Mountain for more than 70 years. A little over twenty years ago, local folks decided they wanted to seriously investigate ways to turn the mountain into a 4-season recreation area for the town, the region, the state. Thus the Ragged Mountain Recreation Area Foundation was born in 1991.

In 2006, an economic feasibility study was done, concluding with the recommendation that the town shift from “operating primarily as a winter ski resort to marketing it as a multi-season recreation destination.” The RMRAF joined forces with the Ragged Mountain Redevelopment Committee to oversee the needed improvements to the mountain’s facilities.

Long story short, last November 5, Camden voters overwhelmingly approved a $2 million bond to  help fund critical improvements to the ski area, like new lifts, trails, snowmaking as well as a new multi-purpose lodge. The voter-approved money gets added to the incredible $4.5 million in private dollars already raised for the effort.

Yes-sir-ree, Camden is finally – really – on its way with this big project.

Plans are in the works to turn the Camden Snow Bowl into a 4-season recreation area for the town, the region, the state. Photo © Carey Kish.

“It’s time to the take the big steps to move Camden Snow Bowl forward,” said Fake. “We’ve been patching it together for too long.”

Work will begin the day after the Snow Bowl closes this spring, when the chairs and T-bars will be take down and moved or replaced.

The two T-bars “are going away,” while the double chair will be shortened and moved to a new location in the beginner area. The Snow Bowl owns a triple chair, and this will be erected where the current T-bar is, allowing the mountain to finally have base-to-summit chair lift.

As for snowmaking, two compressors and a lot of the piping will be replaced. Energy efficient snow guns are to be purchased in an effort to double snowmaking capacity.

“We expect to go to the top with snowmaking and have 80% coverage by next fall,” assured Fake.

Some trails will be widened and a new beginner area constructed in the area of the existing T-bar to the left of the lodge.

In 2015, a brand new beautiful base lodge will be built 100 feet to the left of the current A-frame building. The new lodge will be 8,000 sq. ft. and is projected to generate $3 million in revenue from function rentals.

Big changes, perfect time, great support, right guy for the job. Go Camden!

MORE INFO: Camden Snow Bowl, 207-236-3438.

Look for a lot of big improvements at the Camden Snow Bowl over the next couple years. Photo © Carey Kish.

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