Lots of bright white snow and blue skies tempted us to skip out of work after lunch to go skiing. After all it was Valentine’s Day.
Charlie and I were able to get on our way by 1:30 and the drive to Gunstock Mountain Resort in Gilford was just an hour (about 40 minutes from Concord). We pulled in front of the Nordic Center and I jumped out of the car and ran inside to buy trail passes. To celebrate Valentine’s Day the mountain offered a special deal—trial passes and lift tickets were 2 for 1!
With passes in hand I jumped back into the car and we drove to the ski area’s main parking lot and parked near the Snow Groomer/Maintenance Sheds. We parked here instead of at the Nordic Center because I planned to do downhill skiing later while Charlie would continue to cross country ski. From here it is just a short walk to the trails and to the ski lifts.
We put on our cross country ski boots and dressed at the car. I forgot my light jacket but lucky me Charlie just happened to have an extra one in his bag. I used my no wax skis and Charlie rubbed some old extra blue wax on the kick zone of his skis. We walked a short distance past the sheds to where the Nordic trail crosses the road. We put on skis and headed up the Cobble Mountain Trail.
Oh, the trail was groomed wide for skating and a pair of perfectly cut grooves, nice tracks were made on one side of the trail. This season’s bounty of snow is making for excellent cross country skiing and snowshoeing.
We kicked and glided up the trail. My skis were okay but didn’t kick strong since the snow was still somewhat cold and powdery. Charlie’s skis kicked like a mule and yet his skis glided fast in the tracks too. He was giddy for so easily finding the perfect wax. The Cobble Mountain Trail is very skiable. The trail doesn’t climb all the way to the summit but climbs and then rolls down and then wraps its way around circling the peak through the forest.
At the far end of the Cobble Mountain Loop we turned and followed the Rock Loop where the low and soon to be setting sun reflected brightly on the snow covered marsh at the forest’s edge. The short loop’s scenery was nice and once again we were back into the forest skiing our way around the mountain and working our way back to where we began. The loop we made around the mountain is about 5k (3 miles).
Back at the road crossing at the sheds I clicked out of my skis and wished Charlie a happy ski. He continued up the trail and I ran back to the car.
I admit I was in a hurry to get on the Gunstock’s slopes. The Panorama lift closes at 4pm and I wanted to catch at least one ride to the summit. I don’t think I have ever so quickly changed my clothes and equipment.
People trying to walk fast in ski boots while carrying their skis look silly. No doubt I looked silly, there is nothing graceful about it. I awkwardly clomped along to the far side of the parking lot trying to get to the ticket booth at the lodge.
Luckily I was able to walk right up to an open register at the ticket counter. I was greeted with a smile. I am certain I am not the first Ski Nut to run in and try to get a ticket with no time to spare. As the ticket was printing I said I hope to make the last chair to the summit and she replied, “I know.” My face was red and I felt foolish but I was still hopeful I’d make it. She handed me my ticket and as fast as I could say “thank you” I was out the door.
I placed my lift ticket between my teeth so I could grab my skis and I continued my hustle up the hill to the lift. I began to lecture myself for not allowing enough time. I could see a ski patrolman standing near the lift. A lift attendant was taking down some ropes. Skiers and snowboarders were still sliding up and loading the lift. Yikes!
My heart was beating fast as I clicked into my skis and I fumbled to attach my lift ticket. Whew, I made it. At the last moment another skier glided up and joined me on the chair. He was happy to get one more ride.
On Gunstock’s summit there was little wind and the view north over Lake Winnipesaukee to the mountains was grand. This was the reason I didn’t want to miss the lift to the summit. There were at least a dozen other people just hanging out on top enjoying the view too. Mount Washington’s white cone was visible far away and the Ossipee Mountains looked like they were hugging the other side of the Lake.
I chose to take the natural snow covered ungroomed Recoil Trail. I picked my way down over the moguls. Nice. Thank you Mother Nature for the cool snow.
I went over to the Ramrod Quad and did a couple of runs: one down the race trail and another the trail next to it. The snow was soft and easy to turn.
I skated over to the Tiger triple chair and took a few more runs over there. A high school race was finishing up on Tiger and race training was happening on Cannonball. So I decided to traverse over to the Pistol lift and the terrain park.
As I neared the last turn to the lift I caught a glimpse of Charlie cross country skiing towards the main lodge. The lights were on and it was starting to get dark. I skied right up to him and surprised him. That was good Valentine’s Day luck that he didn’t’ have wait and look for me.
We had hot chocolate in the main lodge together and then I went back out for a little more.
I took a few runs over on the Tiger lift. In the short time I had been away they had groomed the Tiger Trail and opened the trail. Nothing like skiing a freshly groomed trail. Laconia and towns far away had a warm glow like distance Christmas lights.
T’was a fine day for cross country skiing and a fine night for skiing.
Skiing is sweeter than a box of chocolates.