Hit the Slopes! New Hampshire Ski Areas Open for the Season

Amy Patenaude

by Amy Patenaude
Outdoor/Ski Writer

Many of the New Hampshire ski areas have opened or are opening very soon. Thanks to super snow making systems Bretton Woods, Loon and Wildcat were able to open before Thanksgiving Day and the day after the holiday a few more dropped their ropes and opened their slopes for the season.

Yes, it is time for winter sport.  This snowboarder at Bretton Woods knows it! There is plenty of snow on the slopes even if there isn’t any in your backyard. Snowmakers are hard at work opening more trails daily. Visit SkiNH.com for snow conditions and trail reports.
Yes, it is time for winter sport. This snowboarder at Bretton Woods knows it! There is plenty of snow on the slopes even if there isn’t any in your backyard. Snowmakers are hard at work opening more trails daily. Visit SkiNH.com for snow conditions and trail reports.

Even more are planning to open this weekend. Yes, it is time to start your winter sport season.

Opening day at Loon Mountain was on November 24th, with the Gondola providing top to bottom skiing. There is still time to get a good deal for a season’s pass at your favorite resort but hurry for the best deal.
Opening day at Loon Mountain was on November 24th, with the Gondola providing top to bottom skiing. There is still time to get a good deal for a season’s pass at your favorite resort but hurry for the best deal.

Cold temperatures and dry air are the ultimate snowmaking weather and the ski areas have been blowing snow whenever the mercury drops below freezing. There are many of us who are hoping for Mother Nature to gift us a large snowstorm soon (best Christmas present ever hint, hint, Mother Nature).

Bretton Woods was the first to open in New Hampshire on Wednesday, November 18th. I had heard they were opening the night before and read their snow conditions report. The Zephyr Quad would be flying and the mile long Range View Trail would be open from 9am to 4pm. I wanted to go but it was such short notice. Bretton Woods made the deal even sweeter by offering lift tickets for free with the donation of a non-perishable food item for their local food bank.

The next morning I went to work and I looked out my window and saw that the sun was shining brightly. My mind wandered and all I could think about was snow covered mountains. At 9 o’clock I decided I couldn’t take it anymore. I left work and went home.

I rifled through my food pantry for something to donate. I found a can of Bush’s baked beans and a can of tuna fish that I hoped would do nicely. I then grabbed my boot bag (I packed it away last spring with everything I’d need to go at a moment’s notice) and my gear and tossed it all in the back of my car.

Bretton Woods will be delivering a lot of food to their local food pantry. As many as 500 skiers and snowboarders donated food items and were rewarded with an opening day lift ticket. The opening day food drive is annual event at Bretton Woods.
Bretton Woods will be delivering a lot of food to their local food pantry. As many as 500 skiers and snowboarders donated food items and were rewarded with an opening day lift ticket. The opening day food drive is annual event at Bretton Woods.

Skis, boots, poles and clothes I sang in my head to double check that I was set to go. My car’s gas tank was full and with that I hit the road.

I did stop by the Canterbury rest area on I-93 just long enough to grab a couple copies of the Weirs Times from the paper box near the vending machines. I get my paper the same way you do.

When I arrived the lot is full sign was posted at the entrance to the upper parking lot but I drove in anyway and luckily found a spot in the middle. I lugged my gear to the slope side of the lodge and went in the lodge straight to the ticket booth.

My donation was added to a large pile of food and in return I was handed a lift ticket. Certainly the mountain’s visitors had been generous. I think there was enough food to fill the back of a pickup truck.

I got dressed as fast as I could and soon I was riding the lift. I was in a chair by myself and I spun around and took a good look around me. Mount Washington and the Presidential Range’s mountaintops were blanketed bright white with snow, but the rest of the mountain sides were still dark and bare. In the distance below the mountains I could see the Mount Washington Hotel’s radiant red roof surrounded by the still green grass of the golf course.

Riding Bretton Woods’ Zephyr lift on opening day... Yours Truly and Cort Roussel of Franconia, NH.  The snow was excellent and the sunshine was warm and bright.
Riding Bretton Woods’ Zephyr lift on opening day… Yours Truly and Cort Roussel of Franconia, NH. The snow was excellent and the sunshine was warm and bright.

But right underneath the chairlift people were skiing and snowboarding on the man-made ribbon of snow on the mountain that covered the trail full width and top to bottom.

The snow was wonderful and my skis turned and glided with ease and any doubt that I should have stayed at work vanished. The snow was great and it was a lovely day.

I met a few friends. I can’t name most of them because they should have been someplace else and didn’t want to let anyone know they were there.

My friends, “Mr. and Mrs. John Doe” put their children on the school bus before jumping in their car to head to the ski area. They would have skied until the lift closed but they had to be back home before the school bus brought their children home. Their children would have flipped out with jealousy if they knew that their parents went skiing without them. I wondered how they could possibly keep it a secret. I would think that their sunny smiling faces would give it away?

I skied for more than two hours straight, yo-yoing up and down the slope at least 12 times. My legs felt good but I didn’t need to overdo it. I went home happy and I am looking forward to great long season of winter fun.

Don’t forget there is still time to get a good deal on a season’s pass! And sign up for an adult racing league. I’ll be racing Monday nights at Pats Peak. 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.