It’s that time of year: Ski Swaps here and there, and ski resorts testing their snowmaking systems in a pre-season practice known as blowing out the mice…seen above, Sunday River Maine put on an early season show as they often do; we appreciate how nicely they stage these test photos. Summer sun has set — time to turn on winter…meanwhile over at neighbor Sugarloaf, 3″ of fresh fell on the summit. That’s a good reminder that winter is on the way…since we’re on the subject of Maine, the third powerhouse is Saddleback, that’s been shut for a year or two, sale is pending and everybody is hopeful that the lifts will spin this season. Just between us, I’m not so sure…on to the swaps, Wild Mountain way up in Taylors Falls Minnesota kicking it off this weekend as they usually do; consign, buy or both, there are good deals to be had…Vermont biggie Killington hosting their annual ski swap, bike sale, harvest fest, haunted house, brewfest, pumpkin launch and heaven knows what else this weekend; if you haven’t been there it’s an action-packed mess that will definitely get you in the mood for ski season, or something…Taos NM gets in the act with their annual Wintervention Ski Swap at the KTAOS Solar Center, north of El Prado, will take place Oct. 6-7. Gear can be dropped off between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., followed by the “Taos Winter Sports Team Peak Sale” from 6-9 p.m. Oct. 6; sale kicks off at 10 am…Michigan’s Nub’s Nob hosting their annual Ski & Snowboard Swap 9 a.m.-2 p.m. on Oct. 7; it’s the typical 80/20 deal with the 20 benefiting the Harbor Springs Ski Team. Gear consignment is noon-8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 5 or Friday, Oct. 6. Coincides with the annual Nub’s Nob Open House this weekend…back to Maine, we got word that the annual Carrabassett Valley Academy ski swap has been dropped this year; they’ve got something up on the facebook thing to sort of facilitate equipment swaps/sales but I think this is going to be sorely missed in the Sugarloaf area. Definitely an opportunity for another group to step in and host a swap… thoughts and prayers for the victims and families in Las Vegas.