Is Spring Canceled? We’re still playing on the snow!

Monadnock’s Monte Rosa, elevation 2,510 feet, has a large metal weathervane that is fixed on top of the prominent knob.
Monadnock’s Monte Rosa, elevation 2,510 feet, has a large metal weathervane that is fixed on top of the prominent knob.

by Amy Patenaude
Weirs Times Outdoor/Ski Writer

Winter and Spring are fighting. Spring wants in and winter doesn’t want to leave. I cheer hard and loud for winter to win until summer joins the battle and wins swiftly.
This weekend there are still a good number of ski areas that are still open. Mount Sunapee, Cannon Mountain and Jay Peak set their closing dates for April 19th. Bretton Woods plans to be open until Patriot’s Day, April 20th. Sugarloaf is aiming for April 28th and Wildcat hopes to hold out until May 3rd! I hope they can do it!

Mount Monadnock’s ledgy summit as viewed from the Great Pasture Trail.
Mount Monadnock’s ledgy summit as viewed from the Great Pasture Trail.

Yesterday, during lunch, Charlie cross country skied behind the house. Today he has gone out for a run. I was late for work yesterday because I skied the first few hours at Mount Sunapee. I enjoyed the midwinter-like conditions on wonderfully groomed cold snow. I even wore my neck gaiter to keep warm. But later that afternoon the sun came out and the temperature soared to above 50 degrees.
The sap buckets hung on the Maple trees were overflowing.
I didn’t waste the good weather and after work I drove up to Pats Peak. I pulled my skis back out of the car and skinned up the mountain. I went all the way to the Craney Hill Fire Tower. I didn’t wear gloves or a hat and I tied my jacket around my waist. There was a lot of snow covering the trails. Skiing back down the mountain was fun. The snow was wet and soft, just like the spring skiing I remember.

Yours truly at the Craney Hill Fire Tower in Henniker, NH and there was a lot of snow.
Yours truly at the Craney Hill Fire Tower in Henniker, NH and there was a lot of snow.

April Fool’s Day is my birthday and I used it as an excuse to go up Mount Monadnock. I drove to Jaffery and parked at the bottom of the Old Toll Road. The weather forecast called for a temperature in the 40s but it was about freezing when I began my adventure. I decided to wear my trail runners. I carried my boots in my pack and tied my snowshoes on top of the pack too. I had no idea what the conditions were going to be on the mountain.
I took an interesting combination of lesser used trails beginning from just below the old Halfway house site onto the Cart Path to the Mossy Brook Trail. There was a lot of snow in the woods. I happily discovered I could walk anywhere on the frozen consolidated snow. I snapped on my micro-spikes and was sure footed all the way to the summit. I stopped by weathervane on Monte Rosa and enjoyed the view.
Above treeline the snow had melted off the rocky ground but snow and ice filled nearly every space between the bare rough ledge and rocks. The Smith Summit trail was not as difficult to follow as I feared because the person that blazed the trail with the small white dots must have known which places melted off first. Following the blazes was a fun game of hide and seek.
At noon, on top of the famous peak, I was surprised I was all alone except for the wind. There were at least a half dozen other cars in the parking lot so there were others out on the trails. When I started out I had met a small group and I wondered what trails they were traveling.
I enjoyed a snack and the grand vista before heading back down the White Cross Trail.
The sun was out and it was getting warm quickly. My micro-spikes gripped well on the ice and snow and it was an easy descent off the steep summit cone. I have found it more challenging in the summer on the bare rock.
I took a right off the main train and onto Amphitheatre Trail and back Monte Rosa. In the trees I was able to move fast and confidently on the snow and I looped around the Monte Rosa and Fairy Spring Trails before connecting back to the White Arrow Trail.
Since I was still treading on top of the snow I decided to follow the Royce Trail. It was warming up fast and if I did start to post-hole I could put on my snowshoes. The Royce Trail descends through a lovely hardwood glade and I wished I had carried my skis instead of my snowshoes. This was a perfect day to hike.
I popped out on Route 124 about a mile west and downhill from where I left my car at the bottom of the Old Toll Road. The road walk was uneventful.
The Royce Trail is part of the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail and there is no trailhead parking. You can easily tell where it crosses the road by all the No Parking signs.
When I got home there was a lovely birthday cake waiting for me! I decided since it was my birthday and I was hungry no one would mind if I had a taste before supper. I cut a little slice of the white frosted yellow cake and it smelled delicious. I took a bite of the cake and it was yummy. My next bite was covered with frosting. As I chewed it took a few seconds for me to realize how horrible the cake all of a sudden tasted. Gag, run to the sink, remove everything from my mouth and rinse with water, repeat and repeat rinse. April Fool!
Thanks Rindy for making me a cake frosted with plaster purchased from our local hardware store.
Have Fun.

Amy Patenaude is an avid skier/outdoor enthusiast from Henniker, N.H. Readers are welcome to send comments or suggestions to her at:  amy@weirs.com.