Not Spring Yet And Leap Day Hike

Bryan Cuddihee and yours truly took a trip to Pittsburg, NH and found where winter has been hiding. The temperature was just Zero when we started hiking down the packed snowmobile trail to reach the Magalloway fire tower and West Magalloway’s summit.
Bryan Cuddihee and yours truly took a trip to Pittsburg, NH and found where winter has been hiding. The temperature was just Zero when we started hiking down the packed snowmobile trail to reach the Magalloway fire tower and West Magalloway’s summit.

Amy Patenaude

by Amy Patenaude
Outdoor/Ski Writer

Still pining for snow.
Skiers to snowmobilers and snowshoers to snowman builders—our hearts ache for snow and cold temperatures like Mother Nature gave us last winter.
We want it easy. We want our backyard full of snow so we can stomp a snowshoe track between our own trees, ride on our own local snowmobile trails and ice fish on our own secret pond. We waited all winter and now the Equinox is in sight. The first day of spring is March 20th.
I confess I have now given up hope for a big snowstorm but that doesn’t mean I have given up on winter snowsports. The ski areas are open and there is natural snow out there if you’re willing to drive way up north to find it.
As I write, the resorts are still making snow to make sure we continue to have great snow conditions this spring. Don’t miss out on the fun, don’t give up. Slush pond skimming, cardboard sled races and slope side entertainment are annual spring time events. There is still lots of good skiing and riding and night skiing to be enjoyed.

Yours truly on the Sosman Trail--my ski is attached to my foot and that is the summit of Mount Tecumseh behind me.
Yours truly on the Sosman Trail–my ski is attached to my foot and that is the summit of Mount Tecumseh behind me.

I finally decided to dust off my backcountry skis on Leap Day. I drove to Waterville Valley and after getting my lift ticket I returned to my car. In the parking lot I lashed my skis to the outside of my backpack with my boots clicked into the bindings. My pack was heavier than usual but I shouldered it and started hiking up the Mount Tecumseh Trail.
The trail was icy and thankfully the brook crossing was easy to rock hop across since there was no longer any ice on the rocks in the streambed. Since my boot’s soles seemed to grip the soft ice and bare rocks as I climbed I never bothered to put on my mirco spikes.
I met at least a dozen hikers making their way back down from the summit and everyone was wearing some kind of traction on their feet. John and Pepper the dog, State Senator Jeb Bradley, Hiker Ed and more friends.
Since February 29th only happens every four years, Leap day hikes are popular and necessary to complete the 4,000 footer on every calendar day list. There are 366 calendar days and only a handful of people have stood on the summit of a 4,000 footer mountain on every day of the year.

North Tripyramid’s slide is a bright white ribbon of ice---just a small part of the grand vista from Mount Tecumseh’s summit.
North Tripyramid’s slide is a bright white ribbon of ice—just a small part of the grand vista from Mount Tecumseh’s summit.

I later learned that Ed Hawkins, aka Hiker Ed, completed his 4th round of calendar days that day! Congratulations Ed.
About half way up the mountain the icy trail transformed into a nice trail of packed snow. I was making good time hiking so I decided I would just put my skis on at the top.
I had the open summit and its gift of a grand vista all to myself. I admired the bright white ribbon of frozen Fletcher’s Cascade and Mount Tripyramid’s North Slide. The wind picked up and the clouds came and it started snowing.
Forcing my warm feet into my cold ski boots was a little bit of a struggle and pulling my skins apart for the first time this season and attaching them to my skis was a fun chore. The skins beneath my skis dragged and slowed me nicely for skiing down the few steeps and made it possible for me to kick and glide on the snow covered Sosman Trail to the top of Waterville’s High Country slopes. I stopped and checked out the numerous viewpoints along the way even though the sight distance was getting more limited as the snow fell.
This was a dreamy ski along the ridge. I pine for more snow. I hope for a big snowstorm to fill Tuckerman Ravine. I want more off piste skiing.
After pulling my skins off I skied down the Waterville’s machine groomed slopes. The snow was sweet and I made big turns in the soft snow all the way down.

Waterville Valley Resort annually hosts the New Hampshire Special Olympics Winter Games.  Fun deals coming up at Waterville are $17 lift tickets for St. Patrick’s Day and lift tickets on April Fool’s Day are just One Dollar!
Waterville Valley Resort annually hosts the New Hampshire Special Olympics Winter Games. Fun deals coming up at Waterville are $17 lift tickets for St. Patrick’s Day and lift tickets on April Fool’s Day are just One Dollar!

Annually, on the last weekend of February, Waterville Valley Resort hosts the New Hampshire’s Special Olympic Winter Games. Events include Alpine Skiing, Cross Country Skiing, Snowboarding, and Snowshoeing. I saw that the athletes were just starting the downhill giant slalom race. I wished the sun would come back out soon for them and their families and friends.
Back at the car I stowed my gear and shook off my wet jacket before heading south and back to work.
I never give up hope for a big snowstorm. Have fun.