by Amy Patenaude
Have you noticed how long the days are getting now? With the passing of Valentine’s Day I get into a bit of a panic that the end of winter is drawing near. I don’t want winter fun to stop! Winter officially ends Tuesday, March 20th at 12:16 pm. Eeek that’s less than a month away!
The snow is great on the slopes and in the woods and I have been doing my best to enjoy it. From the last two weeks here are a few highlights of the winter fun I have found!
Summited Mount Dartmouth
Charlie dropped me off at the intersection of Base Road and Jefferson Notch Road and he went off to Bretton Woods to go cross country skate skiing on their groomed trail system. My husband isn’t a bushwhacking fan.
I shouldered my backpack and clicked into my back country skis and kicked and glided up the snowmobiled snow packed Jefferson Notch Road. Surprisingly only a handful of courteous snowmobilers zoomed by me as I skied up the 3 mile long uphill to the height of the land. I entered the woods to the west, just opposite the parking lot for the Caps Ridge Trail.
In the woods there were a few inches of fresh snow on top of a thin ice crust covering more than a foot of cold dry snow. Punching through the ice layer would not be good skiing so I dumped my skis. I took the snowshoes off my pack and put them on my feet and continued on my way.
My snowshoes stayed above the ice crust most of the time and it was nice snowshoeing. The temperature stayed cold and the snow on the trees didn’t fall or drip on me. I had a pleasant trip up the mountain. I saw lots of moose tracks and signs but no live moose this trip.
I had visited Dartmouth’s wooded summit before but this was my first time in winter. On top I changed into a dry shirt before heading back down. I didn’t realize it until I got home that my compass must have flung off my neck and into the snow when I took off my shirt. Yes, I do carry a spare compass since that time Bryan’s needle just fell off and broke. But I didn’t need a compass on the way back because I followed my snowshoe track.
On my return the clouds had begun to lift and I enjoyed blue sky and slightly obstructed views of the Presidential Mountains. In no time I was back to where I had left my skis against a tree and I was excited to ski down what I had climbed up.
I turned my phone on and texted Charlie that I’d be back at Base Road soon.
Yah the weather was windy and wild but the five-finger trails off the Zoomer chairlift were more sheltered from the elements. Our niece’s husband and their three young daughters were excited to ski and, all bundled up, they didn’t care it was cold. We skied all morning and got in as many runs before they had to head back home. Cannon has made a lot of snow this winter and Mother Nature has been pretty generous too. Cannon will be hosting Bodefest on March 24, 2018 and registration opens on February 21st on-line at CannonMt.com, click events.
Skiing Pats Peak And A Hockey Game
I can be found every Monday night racing in the adult league at Pats Peak, but this ski outing was going to be special. My college pals, Sue, Gail and I were going skiing together!
When we were engineering classmates at New England College, Sue, Gail and I did a lot of skiing at Pats Peak. Skiing at Pats Peak is one of the perks of attending NEC. The three of us have not skied all together since college. Gail has come to ski recently but Sue had not been back to Pats Peak since graduation.
Gail and her husband were going to join us on their way back from a few days of skiing at Sugarloaf but Gail broke her leg there, darn it, and they had to go straight home.
Sue had flown up from Maryland to watch her son’s hockey game at Proctor Academy. Yes, Sue, the same pal that hiked the Presidential Range with me this past summer. We were sad that Gail couldn’t join us but the show must go on.
Sue was excited. We skied on wonderful soft snow. It was nice out but the temperature was below freezing. Sue told me her hands were freezing and her gloves were worn out and no good. She laughed as she recalled she had purchased these mittens at Pats Peak decades ago. After the run we went right in the lodge and into the ski shop. Sue bought a new pair of warm mittens. She left her ancient mittens behind in the shop with the clerk.
Cascade Basin lift and trails were all brand new to Sue. Cascade Basin’s novice and intermediate trails were the perfect warm-up for her. She remembered the names of her favorite trails, Duster and Tornado! We rode the new summit triple chair and enjoyed the loading carpet. I also like the new lift’s cushioned seats.
We left the slopes just before 4pm, after skiing every trail, so we could make her son’s hockey game. I haven’t attended a hockey game for decades and it was fun to watch her son score a goal. But that loud music that blares for a few seconds between things getting done on the ice seems crazy to me.
The next day we repeated our fun at Pats Peak. But before heading to the second hockey game we went cross-country skiing on Proctor’s cross-country ski trails. We had a fun time and next year Gail will join us.
Cross-Country Ski Racing at Bretton Woods
Bretton Woods Nordic Center hosted a weekend of racing. Saturday, the Bretton Woods Nordic Marathon to benefit the New England Ski Museum was held and on Sunday skiers raced 10k in the 45th Annual Mount Washington Cup. Both events are part of the New England Nordic Ski Associations ZAK Cup Series.
A handful of my friends did both events. First the marathon—42 kilometers of classic technique and then next day they raced another 10 kilometers using the skate technique. Charlie and I had a commitment that prevented us from doing the marathon but we drove up from Henniker to toe the line for the start of the Mount Washington Cup.
The races start right behind the Mount Washington Hotel on snow blanketed the golf course and then skiers enter the trail system that winds through the forest and over the foothills of the Presidential Mountains. The trails were groomed smooth.
Charlie waxed my skis fast and I soon wished I had lined up closer to the start line since I kept skiing up on the guy in front of me. Shortly all the skiers were spread out and we able to move where we wanted to go. Thankfully I didn’t see any broken ski poles. I lost sight of Charlie, he is fast.
Everyone finished the race before the rain shower arrived. Inside the Nordic Center we enjoyed apres race snacks of cheese and crackers and cookies while we awaited the results. Skiers of all ages and abilities take part in this event and medals in five year age groups were awarded.
There are so many more places I want to ski and mountaintops I want to visit before spring arrives! Get out and 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.