• Category Archives On The Trails & Summits
  • Section Hiking Vermont’s Long Trail

    Liz and yours truly hiked 3.8 miles up the Appalachian Trail from North Adams, MA to reach the Vermont-Massachusetts state line, the southern terminus of the Long Trail. Liz knew that we had to hiked to the state line but I didn’t. I went out and purchased the Green Mountain Club’s Long Trail Guide to attempt to avoid any further surprises.

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    The Long Trail follows the spine of the Green Mountains from the Massachusetts state line to the Canadian border. End to end the Long Trail is 272 miles in length. The Long Trail and the Appalachian Trail coincide until north of Pico Peak when the AT leaves the Long Trail and heads towards Hanover, NH.
    We found the Long Trail to be a busy place. The Appalachian Trail north bound and south bound thru-hikers are both passing through Vermont in July/August. Nobos started in Georgia in March and Sobos left Kathadin in Mid-June. There are also plenty of Long Trail hikers starting and finishing their end to end adventure.
    The Long Trail Guide has broken up the 272 miles of trail from south to north into 12 sections of varying distances.
    My friend Liz has returned to Vermont and has settled near Stratton. More than a decade ago she used to live in the northern Vermont and she moved away before completing the southern sections of the Long Trail.

    Goddard Shelter, one of sixty overnight sites found along the Long Trail. The Long Trail was built between 1910 and 1930 and is the oldest long distance hiking trail in the United States. The Appalachian Trail and the Long Trail coincide in southern Vermont for more than one hundred miles.

     

    Stratton Fire Tower and Long Trail caretakers Jeanne and Hugh Jourdy have lived on the top of Stratton Mountain for most of their adults lives. First as fire watchers and now as caretakers. They are good knowledgeable folks that are happy to give good information about the area.

    A thru-hiker is a backpacker that continuously hikes from end to end. A section hiker is a hiker that collects the pieces to complete an end to end trail hike in no set amount of time and sometimes in no set order. Last month Liz and I started our section hike of the Long Trail.
    I was surprised to learn that you can’t just drive to the MA-VT state line to begin the Long Trail. We dropped a car at the trail crossing on Route 9 outside of Bennington, VT on our way to North Adams, MA. From Route 2 we hiked the AT almost four miles to reach the state line and the southern terminus of the Long Trail.
    We hiked a total of 18.2 miles. It was a hot day but not too humid. We crossed up and over hills through green forest. We crossed paths with many thru-hikers but two encounters stand out.
    In a sunny open area under a powerline I met two men. “You’re not wearing any clothes.” I said feeling rather astonished. Liz arrived a few second later and we started laughing. These two guys were in their 60’s and they were only wearing backpacks and sandals and their tattoo covered bodies left nothing to our imaginations.
    One spoke up and said that hiking naked was legal in Vermont and he began to tell us about hiking naked in Europe. Yikes. These two hikers were the talk of the trail that day and had too many wondering how they could deal with deerflies and thorny bushes.
    We also met Pappy, a Korean War Vet in his 80’s who told us he was the oldest person thru-hiking the AT. We learned he soon would be flip flopping up to Kathadin and begin hiking south to take advantage of the good summer weather for the mountains in Maine and New Hampshire.
    Before picking up the car in Massachusetts we visited the Bennington Monument. We took the elevator to the top and posed for photos by the statue of General John Stark. On our way back to Liz’s we dropped a car at the trail crossing at the Arlington-Stratton Road.
    We started early where we left off at the intersection of Route 9. We hiked 22.6 miles to reach our car spot. The day wasn’t too hot but we finished in the rain. Liz said this was the longest section of trail that she had done while section hiking the Long Trail.
    Since we left early when we passed the first shelter we met thru-hikers preparing to hit the trail. I was glad I had a bed to sleep in the previous night.
    The first ten miles went by pleasantly. We enjoyed the view from the Glastenbury lookout tower and we really felt like we were in the middle of nowhere.

    The statue of New Hampshire’s own General John Stark’s leads the charge – and Liz too – at the base of the Bennington Monument. When hiking the Long Trail you’ll get to see a whole lot of the State of Vermont.

     

    Look at what I found on the Stratton-Arlington Road. Daniel Webster spoke to 15,000 people here….. how the heck did they get them here…….

    We loved the forest and beaver ponds and the trail just kept on going. At the shelters people were calling it a day. With three more miles to go it started to rain and we pressed on. We were soaked and just before getting back to our car we met a couple of thru-hikers that begged for a ride to town. One was having a health issue and was desperate to get out. The four of us wet stinky people piled into our car.
    Liz and I were happy to return home to our showers and dry clothes.

    A month later, last week, we hit the trail again picking where we left off. The car drop and the drive to the trailhead on the Stratton-Arlington Road was easy since it we were closer now to Liz’s home. A camp group of young boys were just starting out too. It was only 3.8 miles up to reach the fire tower on top of Stratton Mountain. Our hike to get back to the car we dropped would be 17.5 miles.

    The tower is no longer used as a fire tower but the former fire watchers, Jeanne and Hugh Joudry, are now the caretakers and trail maintainers. They’ve lived most of their life here. They are wonderful folks that are happy to answer questions. They gladly took our camera and snapped a photo of us in front of their tower. The view from the tower is grand and on a clear day it is a big view of Killington and beyond to the White Mountains. But it was hot and hazy and we couldn’t see too far but we could see Stratton Pond below and as far as Mount Ascutney.

     

    A unique trail sign on the Long Trail.

     

    Liz and yours truly on top of Stratton Mountain. Stratton Mountain elevation 3,940 feet in on the New England Highest Hundred List and is a fun day hike from the Stratton-Arlington Road. On weekends people can ride the Stratton Mountain Resort’s gondola up the mountain and hike 7/10th of a mile to the fire tower.

    A half dozen AT hikers were resting below the tower and the camp boys were arriving as we were leaving.
    At Stratton Pond we sat on the edge of the still water and Liz ate blueberry pie. My mother made her a pie and she packed a piece in her pack. I ate my peanut butter and honey sandwich.
    We walked through the Lye Brook Wilderness Area and we appreciated the foot bridges over the roaring brooks.
    The weather was hot and humid as it could be. Truthfully we could smell the body order of some of the thru-hikers before they even reached us. That’s life on the trail.

    Along the way we took the side paths to Prospect Rock and to Spruce Peak. Prospect Rock’s vista over Downer Glen had a nice view of Mount Equinox. The spur to the top of Spruce Peak wasn’t worth the effort of scrambling up the rocky bump because the vista is nearly no more due to tree growth.
    We made it back to the car in time to beat the crowd for supper in Manchester at Cilantro’s. Liz munched tacos and I had a big burrito. Very satisfying and with our bellies full we drove to fetch the car we left behind.
    The next morning we were back on the trail early. Liz had a busy day ahead of her and we decided to knock off the last 5.5 miles over Bromley to complete the 3rd section of the Long Trail.
    We dropped off our car at Mad Tom Notch in Peru and we returned to where we had finished the day before at Route 11 not far from the Bromley Ski Area.
    Light and fast we went. We passed more thru-hikers just breaking camp. There was spur to a ledge with a good view of Stratton Mountain shortly before we the trail turned up Bromley’s ski trail. The workers were cutting the brush along the edge of the trail. We met up with a family from Michigan that was just hiking up the ski area. I’d never seen the top of the ski area without snow.
    Five miles felt short and the rolling and often muddy trail led us back to our waiting car. We’ve completed three sections of the Long Trail together, 59.9 miles and only 212.1 miles to go to reach the Canadian border! I can’t wait. But I am going to have to wait.
    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.


  • Hiking North, Middle & South Tripyramid From Waterville Valley

    Only a mile away from the Livermore Road parking area in Waterville Valley you’ll find the big Pines at the end of the Big Pine Path. A trip to the big trees would make a nice little hike for all.

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    “Waterville Haystacks” was an early name for Mount Tripyramid, the big three-summit mountain that rests between Waterville Valley and south of the Kancamagus Highway in Albany. There are options to make a loop over these peaks from Waterville Valley and the Kanc. The most challenging and spectacular route is the Mount Tripyramid Trail via the North and South Slides from Livermore Road.
    The North and Middle summits are included in the Appalachian Mountain Club’s 4,000 Footer List, ranked 33rd & 35th.
    This was Bria’s first time up the North Slide. I haven’t been up the North Slide in a number of years and I was happy to do it again.
    We met early at the Livermore Road parking lot (Forest Service fee area $5 or parking pass) in Waterville Valley.

    Crossing Avalanche Brook below Tripyramid’s North Slide was an easy rock hop.

     

    The lower section of Tripyramid’s North Slide as it leaves the tree canopy is steep and can be slippery even in dry weather.

    I came from the north and drove the length of Tripoli Road to get to Waterville Valley. The road was just as narrow and bumpy as ever but okay for any car traveling slowly. I marveled at all the people camping along the side of the road, a permit is required, and most appeared to be still in their tents. Someone had a tent sent up in the middle of the Osceola Trailhead parking lot; I imagined the Forest Service would be waking them up.
    Bria, Jeremy and I headed up Livermore Road, now a multi-use trail for hikers, mountain bikers and during the winter months cross country skiers. The road was lined with purple and yellow wild flowers.
    We hadn’t been on the trail long before a fast moving group of three came up behind us. I attempted to charge a toll to pass and requested to be paid in Gummy Bears. Jeremy told them I was serious but the toll was not paid and we all enjoyed a good laugh.
    At 3.6 miles, we turned off Livermore Road, crossed the aptly named Avalanche Brook and began our climb up the North Slide.
    Steep and exposed and not for the faint of heart is the route of the North Slide. The climb is a difficult continuous scramble even in the driest conditions and should not be attempted when it is wet. There were rain showers the previous day and the lower section under the tree canopy was a little greasy. We made our way up carefully.

    Climbing higher, steep exposed ledge and loose rock scar the side of the mountain and provide wide open mountain views. From Waterville Valley, we followed the Livermore Road and the Mount Tripryamid Trail via the North and South Slides to make an 11 miles loop over the three peaks and climbing 3000 vertical feet.

     

    This fast adventurous threesome with the Gummy Bears were just a head of us the entire hike.

    The exposed wide ledge slabs were dry and we did our best not to knock any loose rocks and cause them to go bouncing down the slide. We were thankful the group above us was careful too. The best route was once yellow blazed but now there are too few worn blazes left to guide the way. People are climbing up both sides and even up the middle. Sometimes Jeremy went that way and I went the other and Bria made up her own mind which way was best to go.
    The view up and down the slide is daunting. The open mountain vista of the surrounding mountains is delightfully grand. Just before the top we found some good ledge seats and took the time to enjoy the big view. The nearby peaks of Mount Tecumseh and Osceola were front and center and interestingly we could see the rocky bump of The Captain near Carrigain and more.
    As we neared the trail leading off the top of the slide the group above us appeared from the woods and they wondered which way to go. They had eagerly followed the slide straight up until it completely petered out and had to backtrack.
    I hustled up to meet them and I again made my play for Gummy Bears and offered my guide services for a small fee. Four Gummy Bears later they learned they were standing between the trail and the rock cairn that marks the sharp left turn into the woods. From here the trail continues to meet the Pine Bend Brook Trail just below Tripryramid’s North Peak summit.
    My friends were not pleased I did not share the Gummy Bears, I guess I should have made a better bargain or at least not have eaten them all.
    We continued up and over and up again about a mile to reach Tripryramid’s Middle Peak. The threesome with the Gummy Bears were taking a break on top when we arrived. Sadly all the Gummy Bears were long gone. We poked around the trees to find some views but the views from the slides are so much better it didn’t seem worth the effort.
    From Middle to South it is less than a half a mile. The climb down into the South Slide is difficult and deeply eroded. The South Slide is steep but the rocks are blocky and filled with loose gravel. The only blaze I can recall seeing is the yellow three arrow painted on the ledge pointing the way to the Kate Sleeper Trail. Lower down Jeremy pointed out what remained of a stone staircase that was hidden because it was filled over with gravel.

    Yours Truly with Jeremy and Bria on Tripyramid’s South Slide at the intersection of the Kate Sleeper Trail

     

    Bria is off the slide and back on the trail at the intersection of Pine Bend Brook and the Mount Tripyramid Trails.

    The slides keep sliding.
    We were happy to get back on Livermore Road for the easy walk back to the car.
    Along our way we took a short side trip and followed the Big Pines Path to visit the big Pine trees. Bria and I gave the trees a big hug. We didn’t even come close to reaching each other’s hands around the tree.
    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.


  • Hot – Humid – Hiking… Hale, Zealand, Guyot, South & North Twin

     

    Hot, humid and hazy on top of Mount Hale, Bryan Cuddihee stands on top of Hale’s summit cairn.

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    Rain hammered down most of the night and by morning it was clear. I had no doubt that the heat and humidity would slow us down but we’d deal with it. I had done six hours of trail work with the Randolph Mountain Club the day before and it certainly could not be any hotter!
    Bryan and I met just before 7 am at the North Twin Trail at the end of Haystack Road. I wore my lightweight hiking pants to keep me from scratching my legs up, but I was envious of Bryan’s cooler shorts. Before we hit the trail I drank heartily and guzzled a liter of water. I had three more liters in my pack and I think Bryan carried the same.
    At the first Little River crossing on the North Twin Trail we followed the herd path that continues straight ahead on the east bank of the River. The left hand turn for the abandoned Fire Warden’s Trail to Mount Hale is easy to recognize because the path’s foot bed is well worn.

    The view from the Zeacliff outlook offers a fine view of Carrigain Notch across the Pemigewasset Wilderness.

     

    We beat the heat volunteering for the Randolph Mountain Club! (RandolphMountainClub.Org). On the Maple Walk Trail we built this fine bog bridge that we’re all standing on–rt to lt- Danille Normad, Yours Truly, Benzo Harris, Rick Beard, Jeff Wilson, and Bob Drescher. You can beat the heat too by volunteering. Contact your local club and check out NH Trail Workers Group on Facebook.

    After hiking uphill only a few minutes I was wet from head to toe. I was drenched in sweat as my body tried to keep cool.
    On Hale’s foggy summit there was a man and his dog hanging out. Even if the fire tower still stood here there would be no views. We stood on the summit cairn and marveled how tall the trees have grown.
    Down the Lend-a-Hand Trail we went. The first half of this trail is nice and then it turns into rock hop and bog bridge dance to keep from walking in water and mud. The forest was pretty and it was quiet.
    At the intersection of the Twinway we topped off our water bottles at the crossing of Whitewall Brook. Bryan has a new water filter and he was able to fill our bottles quickly.
    The trail up to Zeacliff is steep and rocky and the sun was starting to break through the clouds. This was where our hike became a sizzling and continued for the rest of the day.
    The first backpackers we met coming down the trail had AT tags on their packs. The Appalachian Trail Northbound hikers from Georgia are now crossing New Hampshire on their odyssey to Maine.
    Just before reaching the spur to Zeacliff outlook we started meeting more and more backpackers. Most had come from the Guyot Shelter/tent sites. Several people mentioned that 90 people had spent the night there. Imagine hiking over mountains and a minimum of 9 miles to get away into the forest just to spend a Saturday night with 90 people!
    The view from Zeacliff was hazy. Tom, Field and Willey’s ridgeline stood out to the west and Carrigain Notch was the prominent feature to see towards the south. With the company of about a dozen others we took a break to eat and drink.
    Between Zeacliff and Guyot we met dozens more people.
    Out and back on the short spur trail we tagged Zealand’s flat and tree covered summit. The only thing to see there is its decorative summit sign.

     

     

    Yours truly on Zealand Mountain! Its summit is among the least interesting in the Whites but it has the most decorative summit sign.

    Near the Bondcliff Trail junction we met two men doing the same loop we were doing but in the opposite direction and faster. They were carrying very little and were out for a run. We decided to take a break and soak in the view across Guyot’s open summit to the Bonds and since there was no breeze we soaked in our perspiration.
    The 2 miles between Guyot and South Twin was more pleasant in the shade and offered nice views into the Pemigewasset Wilderness. We didn’t meet any more people until we arrived at South Twin’s summit.
    A gentle breeze greeted us on top of South Twin. We lingered here in the sun and watched the Franconia Ridge come into to view through the hazy clouds. Mount Washington still was cloaked and never made an appearance.
    Bryan gave directions when asked. A man wanted to know which trail led to the Bonds. Another women asked which peak was North Twin. I think she was hopeful that a closer bump on the ridge to North Twin was it.

    Bryan crosses the Little River closely followed by two backpackers. The North Twin Trail crosses the Little River three times because it follows an old railroad bed. The lower two crossings can be avoided by staying on the east bank of the river on a well used herd path. There are plenty of amazingly large boulders in the river bed that are fun to look see.

     

    The open view looking south to the Bonds from the northeast summit of Mount Guyot on the Twinway. The Guyot Campsite is about a mile away tucked in between Guyot and the Bonds and it was reported that 90 people camped there last Saturday night.

    I like the North Twin spur from South Twin. The 1.3 miles always feels to go by very quickly for me. The descent from South ends in a pretty col and then it is not a long steep up with a brief difficult scramble along the way to reach North Twin.
    The highpoint of North Twin is on the way to the west view spur. Again we lingered. We weren’t in a hurry. We looked down on the AMC Galehead Hut and beyond. Garfield looks mighty from this vantage where you can clearly see its steep face.
    As we descended North Twin we didn’t stop but a minute on the view ledge looking east. I guess we got our fill gazing east on South Twin.
    The four miles down North Twin is down, down and down—it often has an endless feel to it. We met three backpackers coming up that desperately wanted us to tell them they were almost to the top.
    When we finally reached the Little River (it isn’t little), there were two backpackers standing there staring at the river. They were unsure about crossing the river. I went ahead and hopped over the big rocks only one step required stepping in an inch of water. Bryan followed me after he explained to them how to avoid the next two water crossings. The backpackers followed closely on Bryan’s heels.
    The herd path on the east side of the bank of the Little River is well used but it too has been beat up by the floods. There are paths heading in all directions and we had to crawl over some blow downs but sure beats wading the river.
    We had a fun day completing a loop that we’d been thinking of doing for some time. We felt great taking it easy and drinking lots of water. I drank 6 liters! Stay hydrated.
    Have Fun.


  • Amy Goes Hiking At Maine Mountains In Baxter State Park

    Weirs Times’ Outdoor Columnist Amy Patenaude “Wow-ed” on Doubletop Mountain, elevation 3489 feet. Doubletop’s summit ridge is 2/10th of a mile long and the south end is extremely open and exposed. The panorama was truly grand filled with Baxter State Park’s mountains and the distant blue waters of Millinocket Lake.

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    Baxter State Park is way up there. I made it to the Big Moose Inn & Cabins in Millinocket from Franconia in about five hours. After I checked in, I drove a couple miles to find a big view across Millinocket Lake of Mount Kathadin and Baxter State Park’s many other mountains. The sight across the Lake filled me with excitement and anticipation for the day ahead.
    I had satisfying and delicious meatloaf in their Loose Moose Bar & Grill and I wondered what Bryan and Zachary were having for supper. They were already camping in the park and they would be for the week, but I decided I’d spend a night in a nice bed and just one night sharing their campsite.
    Laurie owns the Big Moose. It has been in her family more than 40 years. Laurie was already up when I walked into the breakfast room at 5:15 am. She made me a yummy Big Moose breakfast sandwich and along with hot coffee and a banana I was set for the day.
    The south gate at Baxter State Park (BSP) opens at 6 am and there were a few cars ahead of me as I rolled through the gate around 6:30 am after paying $15 dollars. Maine residents get in for free. It is their park.

    From Mount Coe a lovely view of Doubletop Mountain. Baxter State Park has hundreds of miles of hiking trails over more than 200,000 acres of wilderness.

     

    The view across Millinocket Lake reaches from Doubletop Mountain to Mount Katahdin.

    The maximum speed limit in BSP is 20 mph and it was about 13 miles to reach the Marston Trailhead. I drove slowly down the narrow gravel Tote Road and I saw two moose along the way.
    My plan was to hike Mount Coe, South and North Brother and Fort Mountain. These peaks are on the New England Highest Hundred List and North Brother is also on the New England 4,000 Footer List. I have visited Baxter State Park just twice before each time to hike Kathadin along its Hamlin Peak.
    In my backpack I carry the essentials and a personal locator beacon my mother bought for me. Bryan and Zachary knew my plan and I would be meeting them at their Nesowadnehunk campsite at the end of the day.
    All the brook crossings were easy and the open ledges on Coe’s slide were dry and grippy. I hiked steady and I was on top of Mount Coe soon. I was lucky the sky was blue and the panorama was grand completely filled with forest and mountains. The trail along Coe’s summit is open and its exposed steep flank is impressive.
    The hike over to South Brother was pleasant in the trees but the spur up to its summit is rather rugged. I scrambled up the big rocks and I was thrilled to stand on top and look back at Coe.

    The summit sign, “North Brother, elevation 4143 ft SP” and a good view of Fort Mountain in the background.

    I was happy and felt lucky that the Marston Trail between the Brothers had dried out. A week ago I had seen photos posted by another hiker that made this section look like a full brook. I kept my feet dry hopping on rocks on the steep washed out trail section that had water running down the middle of the trail.
    Much of North Brother is above tree line and it was windy. The bigger peaks of Hamlin and Kathadin looked mighty fierce. It was much like looking at Mount Washington but Baxter is wild, there is no abundance of mankind anywhere.
    From here I could look right down on Fort Mountain and its summit’s rocky ridge. There is no maintained trail to Fort. To get there I followed the herd path or what we jokingly call the Bushwhack Trail. From North Brother’s summit the herd path is easy to follow above tree line but once I entered the woods the trees got tight quickly. I would push the spruce branches away and follow the worn tread way. Several times I had to circle around some fallen trees to find the path past them. Occasionally there would be a piece of orange flagging that someone had left behind to mark their way. Rock cairns began to appear as I neared and led me to the summit.
    I pulled out my map and I enjoyed a long lunch while I tried to name all the nearby peaks. At the time I didn’t know it but Bryan and Zachary were on nearby Mullen Mountain, this was one of a half dozen peaks they would reach via difficult bushwhacks during their stay in the Park.
    On my return from Fort, I could hear something in the woods. I stood still. Then I saw a man wearing a UNH ball cap. I surprised him. He was the only person I saw the whole day while hiking.
    Back on top of North Brother I could see the man was now standing on top of Fort.
    I retraced my way down to the intersection of the Mount Coe and Marston Trails and then I continued down the Marston Trail. My track would look like a lollypop with two sticks.
    Unlike the terrible trails we have in the Wilderness Areas in New Hampshire, the trails in BSP are well cared for and are blazed so that they are not too difficult to follow. Doing trail maintenance doesn’t just make for a better trail but it protects the forest by keeping people on the trail. The forest along the trail was lovely. I found myself wishing that the folks who control the Federally designated wilderness areas would learn a thing or two from BSP.
    I had a splendid time visiting four mountains, I hiked about 12 miles and climbed nearly 4 thousand vertical feet. What a day!
    I found the boys’ campsite and the blackflies were terrible and I was grubby. So I jumped in my car and drove about a mile to Ledge Falls in the Nesowadnehunk Stream. The sign warned me that the rocks were slippery and when I waded into its cold water to scrub up I slipped and landed right on my butt! I got a good dunking. The ledge was warm in the sun and there was a nice breeze that kept the black flies at bay.

    View from the summit of Doubletop, South Brother, Mount Coe, OJI and far is Maine’s highest peak Mount Katahdin
    At the Nesowadnehunk campsite, Zachary whipped up supper inside the screen tent that Bryan set-up to save us from the black flies.

    I wasn’t back long before Bryan and Zachary returned from their adventure. Thankfully Bryan had set up a screen tent over the picnic table. When not protected by its screen we all wore head nets. I presented supper—a jumbo bag of tortellini, a jar of sauce, bricks of cheese and Mom’s strawberry rhubarb pie. Zachary boiled the water, cooked the pasta and mixed up the sauce. We ate it all and there was not one crumb of the delicious pie left behind.
    The next morning we rose at 4:30 am for breakfast. I caught a ride when they did a car drop for their bushwhacking up OJI to Barren Mountain to The Owl. Zachary dropped me off at Kidney Pond Road and I hiked point to point over Doubletop Mountain.
    Again I appreciated the well blazed trails and I could tell by the fresh sawdust that the blow-downs had been recently removed. The last half mile of the trail to reach the summit was steep and rugged. I had to use all my rock climbing skills to carry myself up and over some of the large blocks of rock. The trail popped me up on the south end of the summit ridge and it was extremely exposed and windy. I didn’t venture too close to the edge. The trail follows the open ledge along a cliff face.
    Doubletop’s summit has a “Wow” factor of a perfect 10. I was totally Wowed. I was on top by 8 am and it was another perfect clear day and I could see the peaks I had reached the day before. I sat on top and enjoyed a snack but I didn’t linger too long.
    I continued to follow the Doubletop Mountain Trail down and I hiked back to my car parked at our Nesowadnehunk campsite.
    The drive home was long. I even stopped at a rest area along I-95 and took a 20 minute nap.
    The new Maine Mountain Guide is coming out in July. I can’t wait to get my hands on it and visit Maine again soon.
    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.

     

     


  • Volunteer Trail Work— We Can Do It!

    Nancy and Zachary “Cold River Camp Cook” made sure we were all well fed! The Chatham Trails Association work weekends are based out of the AMC’s Cold River Camp and volunteers are provided meals and a place to sleep for working on the trails all weekend.

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    Chatham Trails Assoc. & Wonalancet Out Door Club

    There are thousands of miles of trails described in the Appalachian Mountain Club’s White Mountain and Southern New Hampshire Guides. There are thousands more all over New England. There are trails to the mountaintops, waterfalls, big rocks and through forests everywhere.
    Wicked weather happens. Storms can knock down branches and rip trees up by their roots and can make a trail difficult to follow or even impassable. Rushing water will erode a path and cause deep ruts and washouts. Rascal porcupines can chew up an important trail sign or a vandal might remove one or point it in the wrong direction. Blazes wear and fade.
    Do you have any idea who maintains these thousands of miles of trails? Volunteers do much of the work; people just like you.
    There are many hiking clubs and associations all over New Hampshire, along with the National Forest Service that care for “their” trails and organize volunteers to do the work. They are more than happy to teach you how to help and provide the tools. No experience is required, a good attitude and a pair of work gloves are what you need to get started.
    Appendix A of the AMC White Mountain Guide has helpful information and contacts for many of the organizations. Contact the group that maintains your favorite trail or one that is near you about volunteering. They have websites and Facebook pages and there is a new NH Trail Workers Facebook page too.

    Andrew, an often returning volunteer and Mike Zlogar, Trail Master of the Chatham Trails Association gives yours truly a volunteer patch in recognition of my first weekend of trail work. Since 1922 the CTA volunteers continue the tradition of stewardship of nearly 40 miles of trails on National Forest and private land in the Evans Notch. The CTA volunteers provide regular maintenance of trails and trail improvements.

    My first time volunteering I tagged along with friends joining the volunteer workday hosted by the BRATTS—Belknap Range Trail Tenders. We worked improving the Red Trail; moving rocks, constructing water bars and hardening the path. I watched the experienced trail builders move big rocks into place and grade the path. I did what I was asked. I collected rocks and filled and carried sacks of gravel. I learned a lot and I gained a greater appreciation of what it takes to make a good trail.
    My friends are trail adopters too. They care for their trail by cleaning water bars, removing brush and small blow-down trees, checking trail signs, paint blazes and even remove litter.
    Hikers are really fortunate that trails have adopters to care for them. Otherwise who would do it?
    The Appalachian Mountain Club, the Randolph Mountain Club, the Wonalancet Out Door Club and others utilize professional trail crews that do the heavy lifting of removing large trees and re-routing trails. Only volunteers that have had special training and certification are permitted to use axes and chainsaws. They do a lot but it isn’t possible for the professional crews to do it all.
    The last two weekends I volunteered with the Chatham Trails Association (CTA) and the Wonalancet Out Door Club (WODC). I’m busy, I play hard but I try to volunteer a few days a year because I care about our trails and because it is fun.
    Saturday I left my house at 5 am and drove to the AMC Cold River Camp in Chatham, that’s near NH/Maine border at the bottom of Evans Notch. I volunteered for the Chatham Trails Association work weekend. At 8 am we met at the shed and assignments and tools were distributed. We were instructed to hike to the top of our trail and work our way down.

    Everyone working together to clear the Cabin Trail. The Cabin Trail is just 2.6 miles of the more than 50 miles of trails that the WODC maintains. Trail Maintenance has been one of the core activities of the Wonalancet Out Door Club since its formation in 1892.
    Andrew and yours truly cleared the Eagle Cascade Trail just off the Baldface Circle Trail while volunteering for the Chatham Trails Association. One of the best parts of doing trail maintenance is getting outside to enjoy nature’s waterfalls and mountains.

     

    For the next eight hours, along with my new friends Andrew, Dave, Francine and Jay, we worked our way down the Slippery Brook Trail cleaning water bars, removing debris and lopping off brush. Sometimes the black flies were fierce and I wore a head net to keep the dang things out of my eyes and ears.
    Cleaning a water bar requires removing the leaves and debris with a rake and a hoe. The purpose of a water bar is to send the water off the trail before the water can cause erosion. If it is full of leaves and silt it can’t do its job and the water will run down the trail and washout the trail.
    When we got back to the camp I was tired and dirty. I went straight to the showers. On the wall of the bathroom hanging in a frame was a copy of instructions for “Three Steps to Beautiful Water Bars.”
    After I was all cleaned up, with a little help I found and moved into Fernbank, my own little cabin complete with a working fireplace and kerosene lantern which I used later in the evening. There are many of these cute little cabins and volunteers filled them all for the weekend.
    Before dinner we enjoyed a social hour and sharing tales about our adventures. Dinner was yummy and prepared by my friend Zachary the Cold River Camp Cook. Oh I especially loved the brownie with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream we had for dessert!
    It was really easy to fall asleep. And Sunday we did it all over again; Andrew and I worked Eagle Cascade Trail. The next work weekend will be in September. I hope to make it.
    On National Trails Day, the Wonalancet Out Door Club hosted a trail work day on the Cabin Trail. My friend Ellen and I decided to make the trip to give a hand. Ellen’s mother is the person that mails out the orders for the WODC shirts.
    We met at the Ferncroft parking lot. The original plan was to clean up the Dicey Mills Trail but the trail had been cleared earlier in the week. A dozen volunteers showed up and we jumped in our cars and drove down the road to the Cabin Trailhead.
    Tools were passed out–rakes, hoes and loppers. There are a lot of water bars and ditches on the Cabin Trail. Thankfully the beech leaves were dry and raked out easily. Many hands made light work. After we cleaned one out we headed up the trail to find another leap-frogging our way up to the next that needed cleaning.
    While I was raking I found an old chain used by a logging crew long ago. It was rusty and stiff. It’s still hiding someplace along the trail.

    A dozen volunteers worked on the Wonalancet Out Door Club’s Cabin Trail on National Trails Day. Many hands make light work.

     

    Jack Waldrow, President and Trails Chair of the Wonalancet Out Door Club and volunteer Fred Head spend many hours working the trails. New Hampshire Trails Day is July 21st and many organizations, including the WODC, are hosting volunteer trail work to celebrate NH’s trails.

    Shortly after noon we reached the Wilderness boundary and that was it for the water bars. Half of our group finished here for the day. Ellen left too since she needed to rest up to run a half marathon the next day and her mother was waiting for her too. The rest of us continued up the trail removing a few blow downs and brushing the trail in the places where it was needed.
    Trail work is satisfying and getting together to work and meet new people that also enjoy hiking and caring for the trails is fun. We took a good break at the Whitin Brook Trail intersection. Many stories were exchanged and the folks that have been working these trails for decades passed on the history of the area.

    Steve, Angel and myself decided we’d work our way to the end of the Cabin Trail where it intersects with the Lawrence Trail. It was just another 4/10th of a mile further up. We were told that there was some much needed brushing to do there.
    I learned that Steve had recently become the trail adopter for the Rollins Trail. He and Angel live about an hour and half away in Maine. I asked him why he adopted a trail here and he told me he loves the area and enjoys the maintaining trails.
    Near the top of the Cabin Trail we enjoyed the views of Mount Paugus’ bare ledges. Cutting back the branches of the spruce trees took a little more time than we thought it might but we got the job done. It would have been fun to continue hiking but it was getting late into the afternoon and I was feeling tuckered out.
    Yes it was fun to admire all our work as we descended the Cabin Trail. The efforts of a dozen volunteers made the Cabin Trail clear and will help preserve if for another season.
    New Hampshire Trails Day is July 21st and there are numerous opportunities to volunteer on this day! Sign-up and
    Have fun.


  • Las Vegas! My Best Bet? Hiking!

    Local resident David Gray, my new hiking partner and friend, is also a trip leader for the Around the Bend Friends hiking meet-up group in Las Vegas. David signs the register on top Griffith Peak, elevation 11,060 feet. Mount Charleston, seen in the background is about five miles away. On Griffith Peak’s summit are scattered Bristlecone Pines.

     

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    I lost a dollar in a slot machine and I thought I had my fill of gambling. But soon I was tempted again. I played a blackjack machine. I bet a five dollar bill since I didn’t have a dollar. I said goodbye to Mr. Lincoln as the bill quickly slid into the bandit. I played at least a dozen hands ,winning some and losing some when I noticed that my credits read $6.50 I decided to escape and quit while still 50 cents ahead for my efforts.
    We went west to visit family and to have some outdoor fun. While Charlie was rock climbing “Dream of Wild Turkeys” in Black Velvet Canyon. I went hiking.
    Before we left on our trip I sent an email to a group I had met a couple years ago when I was out hiking by myself in the Las Vegas area. After a few emails back and forth, I was invited to be a guest by one of the leaders.

    Mummy Mountain as seen from Lee Canyon Road (Rte 156). Do you see why it is called Mummy Mountain? It looks like a Mummy lying in state, left to right, Toe, belly, neck, nose, forehead!

    David took a bet on me and let me join his hike to the South Sister Overlook. The day was cool with lots of high clouds for the five mile out and back hike. While I waited at the Lower Bristlecone Trailhead a couple of wild horses showed up.
    David led Rick and me up the trail and then at the fallen tree headed into the woods and past the foundation of an old sawmill. Soon a well-worn footpath was easy to follow up and then it disappeared again as we followed the ridge to the outlook.
    The vista didn’t disappoint. Big Mount Charleston still had snow on its flanks, the Mummy’s head was across the way and the rest of the Spring Mountains just dazzled me. Southern Nevada has lots of mountains and ranges.
    This was a good morning hike and it got me excited for our next day’s hike.
    A couple of years ago Charlie and I did a long hike on the North Loop Trail to Mount Charleston’s summit and it was one of my favorite hikes ever. So when David offered to go with me to the 11 thousand foot summit of Griffith Peak via the South Loop Trail of course I said yes. I was happy not to hike alone and to have someone willing to share their wealth of knowledge about the area was a huge bonus.
    We met at 8 am at the Cathedral Rock Trailhead; about an hour northwest of Vegas, up Kyle Canyon Road to the town of Mount Charleston.
    In the parking lot we met a man who was all excited to tell us all about his new cellphone map/trail app and we headed up the trail behind him. At the intersection we turned left and headed up the South Loop Trail. In a few minutes we met the same man walking back down the trail and he sheepishly said he missed the turn for Cathedral Rock. Nothing beats a good map or better yet a friend that knows the way.

    Fire isn’t funny. Charred dead trees still standing where a forest fire ravaged the mountain.

    The trail has good footing and rises steeply from the canyon floor. We didn’t see water in the drainage but we could hear it running below the rocks. Everything is so open here, this is desert hiking. The area had been nearly completely burned in a raging fire five years ago and the trail was closed for a few years. Signs of the fire still abound.
    There are some super overlooks along the way that would make a nice outing by themselves if you’re looking for a shorter hike.
    Again the mountains dazzled me and the higher we climbed the more we could see. This time the Mummy’s toe was across the way and we could see the white streaks of snow on Mount Charleston.
    We couldn’t have asked for better weather. We enjoyed the cool temperature and the blue sky above us.
    As we followed the trail’s switchbacks up the mountain we had to make our way over snow covered sections of the trail as we neared the ridge. The Ponderosa Pines that had escaped the fire towered over us. I appreciated the many interesting things David pointed out along the way. He told me the names of the trees, identified the Charleston Woodpecker and hummingbirds and of course he named the mountains we could see in the distance. He poured water on what looked like a gray rock and magically the fossils of seashells appeared! All these mountains and Death Valley were once under the sea.

    David poured water on the plain looking gray rock and magically seashell fossils appeared.

    On the crest at the saddle there is a small windbreak shelter that campers sometimes use. The South Loop Trail turned right and its terminus is on the summit of Mount Charleston just 4.5 miles away. We turned left and hiked a short distance down before we climbed steeply to reach Griffith Peak’s summit.
    On top the wind was gusty but not too cold. Two other hikers were sitting on top and were preparing to leave when we arrived. From our 11,064 foot perch the grand panorama reached far and wide. We signed the summit register and took a short break to eat a snack.

    David on one of the outlooks along the South Loop Trail with Mummy Mountain’s big toe sticking up across Kyle Canyon.
    Your truly and just one of the many large Ponderosa Pine that tower over the South Loop Trail.

    Descending the switchbacks was this hiker’s dream. I joked to David that if this trail was in the East it would have led us straight down the drainage and been all washout and rocky. This trail was well graded and smooth, rarely ever too steep and ever so nice on my knees.
    The temperature increased greatly as we descended and the sun was hot. While we were up high the leaves of the quaking Aspens had just popped wide open and were a fresh light green. What a treat to see the changes as spring settles in while summer is pounding at the door.
    I can’t wait to go back to Las Vegas.
    Thanks David!
    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.


  • Finding Snow on Pico, Killington, Mendon, Sugarloaf & Mt. Ellen

    Our Outdoor Columnist Amy Patenaude doesn’t let the warm weather of May stop her in her pursuit to ski until the last drop of snow has melted. This week she takes us on a mid-Spring quest to find where the skiing is still alive. Pictured here is Mount Ellen’s Rim Run Trail in May! At an elevation of 4,083 feet it is tied for third highest peak in Vermont with Camel’s Hump and they share the 48th ranking on the NEHH list.

     

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    The New England Highest Hundred Peaks include some that are the home to a ski resort. I made it up Pico, Killington, Sugarloaf and Mt. Ellen while there was still enough snow to be able to ski.
    Pico closed for the season many weeks ago. I skinned up and tagged the summit and skied down. There was so much snow that they easily could have remained open like its sister resort next door, Killington. But as one friend in the ski biz said to me, “This time of year we run out of skiers before we run out of snow.”

    The Cooper Lodge, built in 1938 is the highest shelter on the Long Trail. The the four walled stone shelter sits near the summit of Killington. Killington Peak, elevation 4,235’ is the second highest mountain in Vermont (Mount Mansfield is the highest) and it is ranked 36th on the NEHH list.

    When I left home it was sunny and clear but when I arrived at Pico it was cloudy and then I realized it was melting snow fog. I had hoped it would clear but it didn’t. As I was headed up the trail I met a man skiing down with a baby on his back.
    On the summit the fog swirled and I had a brief view of the top of the Killington. Just as I was heading down another fellow reached the summit. I wasn’t even aware he was behind me since I could only see a short distance in the fog—about the distance between one set of lift towers. The ski down I had fun making big wide turns
    Just a couple weeks ago I headed up to Killington early and there was still plenty of snow in the woods. I skied past the Cooper Lodge on the Long Trail. I sat on the summit for a good spell and two snowshoers that had come up the Bucklin Trail arrived while I was enjoying the view.

    Sugarloaf Mountain’s rocky high point had no snow but it rained hard while we were there.

    A couple days later I saw a post on the NEHH’s group Facebook page that a fellow had left his glasses on the summit of Mendon Peak. Mendon is a trail-less peak that is just south of Killington. I decided I should ski up and fetch them. But when I arrived at the Bucklin Trailhead to access the camp road that would bring me near the start of the bushwhack I discovered that the snow had all melted away on the road.
    I left my skis in the car and I tied my snowshoes to my backpack and I hiked up the mud and ice covered road. To start the whack to the Mendon Peak required crossing a roaring brook. I was able to hop across on submerged rocks that kept the top of my boots above the water. On the top of the bank I put on my snowshoes; the north side of the mountain was covered with lots of snow. The snowshoes kept me on top of the soft snow and their crampons made it easier to climb up the steep slippery mountainside. Bushwhacking through wide open hardwoods was nice and the snow was more than a foot deep.
    On the summit Joe’s glasses were hanging on a spruce tree branch just like I saw in the photo he had posted. I put them in my pack and then headed over to the open ledge. I ate an orange and then I let gravity help me scoot down the peak while bounding down making new snowshoe tracks. This was the next best thing to skiing.
    I mailed Joe his glasses and he is quite pleased to be able to see again.

    Yours truly on Mendon Peak’s summit wearing Joe’s glasses. I found his glasses right where he left them when he bushwhacked to the Peak earlier in the week. He was excited to get them back. Mendon Peak is ranked 85th on the New England Highest Hundred List.

    Marylou was game to join me skinning up Sugarloaf and then maybe snowshoe over to Spaulding. I spent the night at her camp on Cupsuptic Lake in Maine and there was still ice on the Lake. We heard Loons! The weather forecast forewarned that there was a good chance of rain in late afternoon but the day looked promising.
    We skinned up the Tote Road and the ski slope was still covered edge to edge. We had a big view of the nearby Bigelow Mountains but to the west we could see dark clouds. Half way up we could see that the dark clouds were coming right for us.
    Just as we neared the top it began to rain hard. We tagged Sugarloaf’s highpoint that was bare rock and mud. Thankfully soon the hard rain turned into a light sprinkle and then it got foggy. We made the smart decision that visiting Spaulding could wait and we hastily descended. Marylou was on snowshoes and I skied. We stayed together until we were half way down then I took off. I didn’t have to wait long for her to join me back at the car. It felt great to change out of our wet clothes.
    Marylou and I had a delicious lunch at the Thai restaurant in Rangeley.

    Yours truly and Marylou on our way up Sugarloaf Mountain before it began to rain. Sugarloaf is Maine’s third highest peak (and the highest not in Baxter State Park) is ranked 35th on the NEHH list.

     

    Mt. Ellen’s bottom third had little to no snow. Here’s Charlie getting in an additional 100 feet of skiing before having to take off his skis to walk to the next patch of “skiable” snow.

    Charlie was hot to ski one more time so we went off to Sugarbush on Saturday on their last weekend to be open. We didn’t quite make the first chair but our friend Jeremy did. We skied on nice groomed snow and Stein’s Run was quite good too. We finally caught up with Jeremy for a couple of runs before the crowd showed up and a lift line formed. We skied straight without taking a break until 11 am.
    We left and drove around to Sugarbush’s other mountain. Mt. Ellen was closed but its trails had snow and was open for skinning. The bottom third of Mt. Ellen was mostly bare and we all hiked up until we reached the good snow.
    Charlie and I put on our skins and skis and Jeremy snowshoed. The sun was hot and bright and we wore short sleeve shirts and sunglasses. Nearing the summit from the Rim Run Trail the clear panorama wound around from the White Mountains, up the spine of the Green Mountains and to New York’s Adirondacks. It was an excellent day to be on top of a mountain.
    Going back down was a blast. Charlie and I skied and Jeremy ran down on his snowshoes. We passed a few more people skinning up the mountain as we descended. When Charlie and I reached the bottom third we did our best to connect the patches of snow. I bet we took off and on our skis at least a dozen times.
    Jeremy joined us in the parking lot just ten minutes later than us; he ran fast. Maybe after he saw how much fun we had skinning and skiing that he will leave his snowshoes at home next time and join us on skis.
    I can’t promise I won’t write another column about skiing this year since I hear that Tuckerman Ravine could be skiable maybe into July.
    Have fun.


  • Red Hill

    Yours truly and Danielle on the summit of Red Hill in Moultonborough. Red Hill summit, elevation 2,020 feet has splendid views and from its fire tower there is a grand panoramic vista that rivals peaks more than twice its height. Trail descriptions for Red Hill can be found in the AMC White Mountain Guide and a map is available on-line at LRCT.org.

     

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    The Red Hill Fire Tower rises high above the shores of Squam Lake and Lake Winnipesaukee. Visitors that climb the steps up the tower will behold a grand vista over the Lakes to the White Mountains, the Squam Range and the Belknaps. The Ossipee Mountains and the Sandwich Range are near. On a clear day the panorama grows wide and many far away peaks can be seen from the tower.
    The Lakes Region Conservation Trust has conserved nearly 24,000 acres and the Red Hill Conservation Area is more than 2,650 acres. Henry David Thoreau hiked to the top of Red Hill in July of 1858 and I trust he would still find it quite enjoyable since much of the view has stayed wild.

    The Teedie Trail had no snow lower down along the interesting old stone walls.

     

    Danielle looking up the icy rock scramble up Eagle Cliff. There is an easier bypass path around this difficult section of trail.

    We needed a hike not too far north since we had an event in Exeter to attend later in the day. We’ve both been to the fire tower before but Danielle had not hiked the Eagle Cliff Trail. The Red Hill Trails are described in the AMC’s White Mountain Guide and this would count for redlining for her. We both desired a peak with a big view and Red Hill fit the bill perfectly.
    The Eagle Cliff trail is the more difficult route to the summit–it is longer, steeper and rockier. The trail begins 4/10th of a mile north of the Moultonborough/Squam town line on Bean Road. The shoulder is wide at the trailhead and there is room for just 5 or 6 cars to park.
    We only hiked a short distance before seeing patches of snow and the higher we hiked the more frequently the snow appeared. Eagle Cliff is only 6/10th of a mile up trail but just before reaching the top of the cliff the trail has a rocky rugged scramble. Here the bypass path leaves to the right and it is clearly marked and avoids the rock climb. Some ice still covered the rocks and we carefully climbed. At the top we jogged back down the bypass for redlining purposes and we scrambled back up the slippery section again.

     

     

    From Red Hill the view across Lake Winnipesaukee we could see the snow on Gunstock Mountain’s ski trails.

     

    Congratulations to everyone that received an award at the annual Four Thousand Footer Club 2018 Annual Meeting, Awards and Dinner. Three cheers for Danielle for completing the 4,000 footer list in Winter! Her finishing peak was Mount Adams.

    There’s a sweet view of Squam Lake and the Squam Range from the top of the Eagle Cliff’s ledges that would make an excellent short hike on its own. From here it’s another 2.1 miles to the top of Red Hill.
    We descended a short distance to where the Teedie Trail meets the trail. We continued on and soon we were walking on well consolidated snow. Danielle put on her micro-spikes to be more surefooted and I decided that the snow was soft enough so I could make my boot’s treads work. I did fall down once and Danielle didn’t.
    The trail crossed a small knoll and then descended again before we climbed a much bigger knoll. This was a good climb and now we could see the fire tower. We descended a short distance and then we made the final gentle climb to reach the summit.
    Snow and wind made the warm day down below feel downright chilly on the summit. We put on our down puffy jackets. There were a few other people on top but no one was on the fire tower as we headed up the steps. The viewing platform below the tower’s locked cabin is fabulous and there are view finding signs that are a big help for pointing out the mountains.
    Moosilauke was bright white and so was the top of Sandwich Dome. We could see Mount Cardigan, Mount Kearsarge and the snow on the Gunstock’s ski trails.
    By the time we came down the tower we had the summit to ourselves. We enjoyed our sandwiches on the ledge at the foot of the tower.

    I ran up the tower one more time to take in the grand vista. I felt satisfied when I realized I could see South Kinsman way up north. Danielle went over to the picnic table to get another photo of Big Lake.
    The trip back down went quickly and we passed by a few small groups on their way up.
    This time we turned down the Teedie Trail and avoided the rugged sections of the Eagle Cliff Trail. The Teedie trail doesn’t have open views but it passes by some interesting stone walls. The trail popped us out right at the town line, there is no parking here. We walked north on the road back to our car.

    Mount Moosilauke was bright white and was certainly an eye-filler.

    We made it to Exeter High School on time to meet our friends for the AMC’s Four Thousand Footer Club Annual Meeting, Awards and Dinner. People and dogs were recognized for completing the 4,000 footer list. Danielle and I received our parchment for finishing the list in winter. We had much fun cheering for our friends receiving their awards too.
    Happy Spring.

     


  • Utah – Rain, Snow & Sunshine!

    On top of Snowbird on a Bluebird day!

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    Turns out that I did not need to leave New Hampshire to find new snow. I don’t know why but every time I head west it snows like crazy at home.
    I thought going to Utah for some fine spring skiing would be just the thing to do. But after my second day of skiing in the rain I was having second thoughts.
    Inside Alta’s Goldminer’s Daughter day lodge I looked at my cellphone. Becca Snowboarder sent me photos of riding in the new fluff at Cannon and of her skin tracks up Tenney Mountain. Bria posted photos of Waterville Valley and Loon and reported packed powder conditions. Charlie was at Black Mountain for the Wild Corn Festival and he successfully competed in the uphill race.

    Barb, Chuck, Tracy and Sylvia at Alta testing and comparing DPS skis. The Salt Lake based ski company, DPS, designs and manufactures high-tech and light-weight high performance skis. DPS has introduced Phantom, a one application permanent base coating that eliminates waxing for glide for skis and snowboards that is easy to apply and better for the environment.
    1. I should have left my phone in the car. All this good news from home made me a little homesick.
      No complaints, OK except the rain and the lifts that didn’t run because of the bad weather.
      My long weekend started on Thursday night. I flew into Salt Lake City after flying the JetBlue redeye from Boston and I didn’t make it to my room at the airport hotel until 1:30 in the morning. That’s the same as 3:30 am in the East, it was a long day. In the morning I ate breakfast in the lobby and then took the shuttle back to the airport to pick up a rental car.
      I drove north in light rain to Snowbasin and once I arrived at the ski resort it really started to downpour. I was the only person in the lift line and I asked the attendant if it was possible for her to give me a garbage bag. She did. In the Gondola I took off my helmet and poked my head through the bag and did the same for both my arms. I looked goofy but the garbage bag kept me dry. The ski area was a ghost town, very few were crazy enough to ski in this kind of weather.
    Day 1 of 2 skiing in the Utah rain. In the gondola at Snowbasin are Barb and yours truly wearing a garbage bag. Snowbasin hosted the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Downhill races.

    Up high the rain was snow and sleet. This made for some fine mid-mountain skiing and for some interesting snow pinwheels (snowballs rolling down the slope beside me) and sliding blankets of wet snow. Many slopes were closed due to avalanche danger.
    Barb, from Montana, met me for the last hour of skiing and then we both drove to Salt Lake City.
    Chuck invited Barb, Tracy and Sylvia; and Sylvia invited me to come to Alta for the weekend to test DPS skis and to have fun. We zoomed back to Salt Lake and met the rest of our friends at the AirBnB just in time to all ride up to Alta for a meet and greet and a showing of DPS Skis Cinematic short films. The ski flicks were outstanding and made us all excited to ski.
    Overnight the rain didn’t stop. I felt badly for the ski reps, it rained sideways and it down poured. Alta shut down all the lifts at 1:30. New snow, heavy rain and high avalanche danger are not the best conditions to try out new skis.
    Sunday morning we returned to Alta and the rain had changed over to snow flurries and dark clouds surrounded the mountain. Ski conditions were interesting. We found good soft creamy snow and sometimes firm icy stuff. Still not the best conditions to try out skis but my hats off to my friends they kept on trying different skis.

    Yours truly, Chuck, Tracy and Sylvia on the lift at Snowbird. We sure ended the ski trip on a high note. The day was warm and sunny and evaporated any memory of the previous bad weather.

    I confess it was all I could do to stay on my feet on my own skis in the varying conditions. My goggles didn’t dry out completely overnight and they steamed up between the lenses. I skied a couple runs by feel before I smartened up and borrowed a pair of lost and found goggles. Skiing was much easier when I could see.

    Snowbird’s Tram car is packed with skiers and snowboarders on a nice day. Where’s Sylvia? Sylvia wears a pink helmet and somehow always manages to wiggle her way up to the door’s window

    I knew what we were missing. Last year I went to Alta and the snow was deep and the sun was bright in the sky. A great deal of terrain was closed due to avalanche danger. But we still had a lot of fun skiing together and hunting for the good soft snow.
    The next day, Monday morning, was the day I was dreaming of—blue sky and sunshine.
    We packed up and cleared out of our rented house and drove up the canyon to Snowbird. We all met at the Tram plaza and skied on fresh new snow. I put sunscreen on my face and wore sunglasses. The conditions were the best where the sun warmed it first. Nearing mid-day more terrain opened and Mineral Basin was ours to make first tracks. The resort was busy, lots of skiers and snowboarders joined us (no Snowboarders allowed at Alta). A lot of pent up energy was being released. We skied all over and enjoyed the big mountain vista that had been hiding from us all weekend.
    On our last run Sylvia stopped and flopped down on the snow and stretched out on her back and we all joined her and did the same. We looked down the canyon at Salt Lake City and up the canyon at the sharp mountaintops. The last Tram ride was now long gone and this last pitch was our final ski together. We savored the moment—the cold snow against our body, the warm sun on our face and that magical combination of the thrill of skiing and comradery.
    Everyone made it home safe, back to Bozeman, MT and to Fort Collins, Colorado. These are long drives especially after a full day of skiing. I am still tired, exhausted really. I flew a redeye back to Boston and arrived at 6 am and in time for me to take the earliest Concord Coach Bus north to Concord.
    By the weekend I’ll be raring to go skiing. I hope the snow holds until May.
    Have fun.


  • Not Giving Up on Snow!

    The last day of Mt. Eustis’ season was a sunny warm clear day. The volunteer-run ski area is on the west side of I-93 above the town of Littleton. A rope tow carries skiers and snowboarders to the top of the slopes that were first opened in 1939. Two years ago the family friendly ski hill was revived by the Littleton community and its dedicated volunteers.

     

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    The chairlift bullwheels at some of the ski areas have stopped spinning for the season. The smallest ski hills that rely on natural snow shut down a couple weeks ago. A few more ski areas stayed open until the first of April. But don’t fret there are still resorts open and it remains to be seen just how long this snowsport season is going to last.
    I went skiing yesterday. I went skiing today and I plan on going tomorrow. As long as I can find snow I am going to keep having fun!
    Pats Peak’s last day was the first of April and this isn’t the first time the ski area closed for the season while still having one hundred percent of their trails open. The school programs and race leagues finished up weeks ago and now they will start their busy wedding season.
    The skiing and snowboarding is still very good but the crowds have dwindled. I guess the kids big and small are riding bicycles and playing ball now. Only the die-hard snowsports fans continue to hit the slopes come April. And that is too bad because hitting the slopes with suntan lotion on your nose is more fun than having frost bite your nose! If you want to learn to ski it is a fine time to take a lesson.

    Charlie is having goofy fun skinning up Pats Peak because the lifts are closed. We use skins on the bottom of our skis so they won’t slide back down as we climb up the trail. At the top we rip the skins off and ski back down.

    Ragged Mountain and Crotched Mountain finished up their season on Easter too. Mount Sunapee is looking to finish up on April 8th. SkiNH.com, click on conditions to see an up-to-date rundown of who and what is open.
    Nordic trails in the woods are holding up and cross-country ski areas are working to stretch their season.
    Charlie and I have been putting Pats Peak’s snow to good use after work. We have plenty of time before it gets dark to skin up the mountain and ski back down. We have enjoyed some nice sunsets from the slopes of Twister.
    The previous week I visited for my first time Mt. Eustis in Littleton. The community ski hill has a rope tow and a small warming hut with a nice deck. All run by volunteers. The sun was bright and the snow was soft and bare spots were just beginning to show through.

    Big morning at Loon Mountain–from Picked Rock to Walking Boss the trails were covered edge to edge with super snow. Don’t give up on snow yet!

     

    Yours truly, Charlie and Becca extended our adventure by skinning up through the woods to visit Henniker’s Craney Hill fire tower

    Everyone there knew this was the last day of the season and a lot of people had come out. The price of a lift ticket was a donation.
    There is a grand view that will fill your eyes from their slopes of the Presidential Mountains all surrounded by the many peaks of the White Mountains. After every rope tow ride I stood at the top soaking in the view while I rested my arms. Hanging on to a rope tow as it pulls you up is a workout. My arms tired out long before my legs.
    A return visit to Mt. Eustis next season for night skiing is definitely on my list of fun things to do.
    We had a super morning at Loon. A friend and I both skipped out of work for the morning. We were in line at the gondola before 9 am when the lifts opened. We were treated to an early opening which afforded us to be able to get in an extra run.
    We skied like mad men for three hours straight, skiing all over the mountain. At first the snow was firm like winter conditions due to the previous nice cold night. Then the temperature rose and the snow softened up and we were able to make big hero turns in the groomed snow. On a few trails they let the bumps form on one side of the trail and they became soft and fun to ski.
    At noon we dashed back to our cars and headed to work. A half a day of work is better than none—I mean a half a day of skiing is better than none. Well, even hiking for one run is fun.
    Think Snow!

    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.


  • Yup, It’s Spring

    Black Mountain’s pond is filled with ice cold water and rubber duckies! Black Mountain will hold their annual spring Pond Skim this Saturday, March 24th. Check out the calendar of events at SkiNH.com for a complete listing of fun Spring events. (photo courtesy black mountain)

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    Yippee the silly season is here!
    Time to put away the heavy winter jacket and dig out your Hawaiian shirt!

    I know it spring when Patrick of Intervale Farm Pancake House taps our Maple trees that line the road. The warm days and cold nights make the sap run and the snow good for skiing and snowboarding.

    Spring officially sprung on Tuesday March 20th at 12:15pm. The days continue to grow longer and we survived setting the clock an hour ahead. There is plenty of daylight to play outside after school/work and there is snow! We had cool Nor’easters that blanketed the ski slopes with snow and everywhere else too.
    My road is muddy and the sap buckets are hanging on the big maple trees. The sap flows best when it is warm and sunny during the day and when the temperature dips below freezing during the night. This is good for skiers and snowboarders too. This weather will make sure the snow stays around well into April and we wear sunglasses and slap on the sunscreen while soaking up the sun on the slopes.
    A favorite spring-time event held at many New Hampshire ski areas have skiers and snowboarders attempting to surf across a man-made-ice-cold pond! No matter what you call it—Pond Skim, Slush Cup or Spring Splash the end result is that a lot of somebodies are going to take a dive and get wet.
    I have made it across the water and I have made a big splash while pond skimming. If you haven’t done it at least once you should give it a try just so you can say you did it and it is fun. Be sure to wax your skis and go as fast as you can because speed will keep you on top of the water. Warning: If you must enter the pond straight. If you try to turn your skis will be ripped off your feet or the water will grab your snowboard and you’re going swimming fast. Have a towel and dry clothes nearby. Good luck.
    Pats Peak held their annual pond skim on Saint Patrick’s Day and they required all participants to wear costumes.

    They’re ready to get more than their feet wet attempting the pond skim at Black Mountain.
    King Pine skiers and snowboarders brave the cold water as they attempt to make it across the pond! Hit the slopes! If you don’t want to get wet it is just as much fun cheering for the brave souls making a big splash.
    Pats Peak held its annual Pond Skim on Saint Patrick’s Day–all participants were required to wear costumes.
    Carrying ET across the Pond at Pat’s Peak.

    Here are a few dates and places of the upcoming fun Spring Events:

    Saturday March 24th: Black Mountain’s All Day Pond Skim. Sunday March 31st: King Pine’s Cardboard Box Derby. Bodefest at Cannon Mountain.

    Saturday March 31st: Cranmore’s Spring Splash, Ragged Mountain’s Pond Skim, Mount Sunapee’s 20th Annual Slush Cup, 80’s Day at Cannon Mountain, Bretton Woods’ Beach Party.

    Sunday April 1st: Gunstock’s BYODC Pond Skim (Bring your own dry clothes), King Pine Pond Skimming.

    The date for Loon Mountain’s Slushpool Party and Cannon’s Blizzard Splash Pond is Saturday April 14th.

    When the snow settles and the avalanche dangers decrease the hordes of Tuckerman Ravine back country enthusiasts will cover the walls of the bowl like ants on sugar. The annual Tuckerman Ravine Inferno Pentathlon, a fundraising event by the Friends of Tuckerman Ravine, will be held on April 14th. The non-profit, Friends of Tuckerman’s mission is to preserve and protect Tuckerman Ravine and to sustain the traditional recreational uses of the area.

    Lastly, the best deals for next year’s season passes are being offered right now so it is time to start thinking about next year.

    Please keep your bicycles in the garage and the golf clubs in the attic until next month.
    Have fun.


  • High Above the Notch Eagle Cliff & Cannon Mountain

    The view from the top of Eagle Cliff is an eyeful of Cannon Mountain! The 3,420 foot peak is high above the floor of Franconia Notch and the trail-less peak can only be reached via a rugged bushwhack.

     

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    We met in the Cannon Mountain Tramway parking lot after Becca spent the morning snowboarding on Cannon’s slopes. I didn’t get my act together to go skiing along with her but I was game to meet her for a mid-day strong snowshoe. She said the snowboarding was good and did her best to make me jealous that I certainly should have met her when the lifts opened.
    Becca put on her hiking boots and sometime around 11 am we were walking down the snowmobile trail (snow covered bicycle path) towards The Old Man Viewing. The snow was packed hard and we carried our snowshoes. We followed the trail under the Parkway to the pull-off on the northbound side of the Parkway. There used to be a good view of the Old Man from this small parking area. One of the reasons we didn’t drive and park here was because parking is limited to one hour.

    Becca near the high point of Eagle Cliff.

     

    On the shelf above Eagle Pass where there are good views of the slides across the Pass.

    We put on our snowshoes and went straight up through the woods for a just couple minutes before we hit the Greenleaf Trail. We could see tracks in the snow that a couple of people had walked up the trail without snowshoes. When we saw their deep postholes we were extra glad we were wearing our snowshoes.
    The snow conditions were perfect for snowshoes. Our snowshoes settled a few inches into the snow but underneath it was firm so that the crampons bit and gripped well. We flicked up our snowshoe’s televators when the trail got steep. Televators are a piece of metal that snaps up from the snowshoe to elevate the heel to make it easier to climb steeps.
    We caught up to a couple bare booting their way up the trail. Funny thing was they had snowshoes tied onto their backpacks. They weren’t using them? We exchanged greetings and we continued on our way.
    Traversing Eagle Pass was tricky. There was much more ice than snow between the bare ledges. Once through the pass we left the trail and headed north into the woods.
    Becca has been up here a couple more times than me and she had summited it once in deep spring snow. This was our first time in winter.
    I led the way weaving through open woods and sometimes pushing through a couple of tight spruce. I like bushwhacking in the winter on good firm snow because it is much easier than tripping over all the stuff that is lying underneath the snow. Plus our snowshoes were solid! I didn’t use my compass really because from here it was just up, any way we could get up.
    We popped out on the shelf, an open area above Eagle Pass. We enjoyed looking at the slides across the way and the view south down the Notch.
    From here we scrambled up several short but near vertical short sections before the final steep push through some tight trees to reach the ridge.

    Yours truly, Becca and Cannon Cliff from the top of Eagle Cliff.

    The ridge was open and it was icy between the bare ledges. High above the Notch we could look down on the cars driving up the parkway. We could see mountains far to the south. Cannon Cliff and the ski slopes on big Cannon Mountain were right in straight in front of us. We ventured out closer to the face of the cliff to get a peek north up the Notch too.
    Certainly if there were a trail to the top of this cliff it would be a popular destination but it is a rugged bushwhack. The highpoint of the mountain is a short distance north on the ridge.
    We followed our tracks back down the best we could sometimes losing them under the thick spruce branches. Getting down the short steep sections wasn’t easy. We both did some sliding and grabbing onto trees to keep from descending too quickly with gravity’s help.
    I’m always happy when I find my way back to the trail. We had a good bushwhack, neither one of us got too scratched up. Back on the Greenleaf Trail we saw another set of snowshoe tracks had come up the trail and there were no bare-boot tracks. The people we had met earlier on the trail had put their snowshoes on their feet shortly after we passed by them.
    We again did the short bushwhacked down to the snowmobile trail, a couple of snowmobilers drove by us slowly and waved at us. We waved back.
    At our cars we dumped our packs and changed into some dryer clothes. Did we have time? It would be close and since we had season passes we hustled up to the Tramway and caught a ride. On the ride up in the Tram we had a good view of Franconia Notch and of where we just were on top of Eagle Cliff.
    We entered the warm summit building and headed right to the bar. We ordered our beers and then the bar tender yelled, “Last Call”. It was 3 o’clock.

    Yours truly and Becca having fun in the Tramway summit building, “Welcome to the Highest Taps In New Hampshire!” If you don’t have a pass to ski or snowboard, anyone can buy a round trip ticket for $18. The views from the Tramway and Cannon’s summit are well worth the adventure.

    We sat on bar stools right next to the window and looked out at the mountains and above the bar there is a sign that reads “Welcome to the Highest Taps in NH”! This was a fun way to end our adventure. We noticed that the skiers and snowboarders had all left by around 3:30 and the building was now nearly empty.
    The last Tram descends at 3:45 and we made sure we were on it.
    —Have Fun.


  • Snow’s Great & How Are You?

    With the recent warm weather, Outdoor/Ski Columnist Amy Patenaude isn’t ready for spring just yet and fills us in on some great skiing that is still to be had in the Granite State. Picture here, Pats Peak’s mascot Snowball welcomes Amy’s college friend Sue back to Pats Peak. As Amy says: “There is lots of winter fun to find this winter!”

     

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    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.

    Beneath the snow covered trees my snowshoe tracks cross moose tracks and moose tracks cross my snowshoe tracks.

    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.

    Having too much fun on Cannon’s slopes we forgot it was cold outside.

    Skiing Cannon
    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.

    Sue hasn’t skied in many years but she took right to the slopes at Pats Peak. There is a lot of snow on the ski slopes; it is a good time to go skiing or snowboarding!

    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.

    Snowmobilers like to take their photo in front of this sign so I did too. Winter travel on the Jefferson Notch Road is most often made by snowmobilers but I cross-country skied up the road.

    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.

    The Bretton Woods Nordic Center hosted the Bretton Woods Nordic Marathon and the 45th annual Mount Washington Cup last weekend. The races started behind the Mount Washington Hotel.

    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.

    Happy cross-country skiers at the Eastman Cross Country Center in Grantham, NH. Elementary school children take weekly lessons at Eastman and enjoy skiing their 36 kilometer trail system.

    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: amy@weirs.com.


  • Success!

    Danielle and the view of North Bald Cap
    Danielle and the view of North Bald Cap with the Presidential Mountains further in the distance as seen from The Outlook. The Outlook is a fine view ledge 1.6 miles from the Success Trailhead on Success Pond Road. Mount Success is a peak crossed by the Appalachian Trail and is on the “52 with a View” list and is ranked #95 on NH’s Highest One Hundred list.

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    Sometimes I don’t make the smartest decisions and still everything ends up fine.
    Danielle and I have been trying to make a winter trip up Mount Success since Christmas. Due to extreme cold temperatures and or a big snowfall we have cancelled our plans four times. But this past Wednesday we decided it was really going to be the day to do it.
    Success Pond Road from Berlin is a private road that isn’t maintained for average car travel. My hiking friend Keith, from Berlin, said that Success Pond Road was plowed but it was icy. I told him I had chains and he thought we’d probably be fine.
    I picked up Danielle in Concord and as we drove north on I-93 we watched to the west the big bright Super Moon sink out of sight. When we hit Franconia Notch is was snowing but as we neared Twin Mountain the sky was more blue than cloudy.
    We headed up Success Pond Road and the first bit was fine because this is the access for the City of Berlin’s snow dump. Ten wheelers were traveling in and out and a bulldozer was pushing the snow away.
    Here it was flat and the ground was an ice rink. I stopped the car and got out the chains. Danielle and I went to work putting them on the front of the car. But there was a problem: I had never put them on this car before and I did not know that my car’s suspension did not have clearance for the chains. Of course I had managed to jam the chain up and it took some work to dislodge the mess.
    So here we were with blue sky and an icy road. I have an older Audi Q5 all-wheel drive car with new all-season tires. I decided I would give it a go anyway and attempt to drive the 5.5 miles to the trailhead. I had a shovel and a pair of cross country skis in the back just in case I thought. I rationalized if I made it up and down the big hill at the beginning we’d be fine.
    Yes this was not my best decision, I decided, as I kept one side of the car’s wheels in the snowbank to keep the car from sliding down and turning into an uncontrolled bobsled. I drove slowly and let the car bounce in the frozen ruts. Danielle was quiet in the passenger seat.
    45 minutes later we were parked near the trailhead where luckily a wide spot was plowed at a snowmobile crossing with room for a car or two to park.
    We put on our boots and bundled up since it was only 8 degrees but there was no wind. We shuffled to the trail and discovered that a snowmobile had recently taken a ride up the trail. We tied our snowshoes to our packs and decided to bare boot it up the trail as far as the packed snow would hold our weight.

    Yours truly running away from the Mount Success’ summit to get out of the cold wind.

     

    The snow was deep on the Mahoosuc Trail/Appalachian Trail nearing the summit of Mount Success. Our heads hit the branches usually high above the trail.
    There’s a hole in the bucket! Artifacts from a long ago logging camp, old buckets and pieces of a cast iron stove, hang on a tree along the Success Trail.

    The snowmobile made it about half way to “The Outlook” and from this point the trail was still packed well by previous foot traffic. We made good time up the 1.6 miles of trail to reach this fine view ledge. The Outlook has spectacular views of the Presidentials over the nearby dramatic ledge face of North Bald Cap. The Outlook is also a fine perch to view the peaks in the North Country. Danielle and I had once bushwhacked to the summit of North Bald Cap on a cloudy rainy day and it was nice to see it.
    We put on our snowshoes since the snow was not packed above The Outlook. We broke through the thin ice crust into the softer snow beneath between 1 to 4 inches. Of course occasionally we got tripped up by a deeper punch into the snow but that is the fun of snowshoeing.
    Now the steep trail was behind us and the rest of the way to meet the Mahoosuc Trail/Appalachian Trail was pleasant. We pushed through some mean blowdown trees right before reaching the Bucket Tree. Over the years, pieces of a cast iron stove and rusty pails have been placed on this tree as a reminder that long ago this place was a logging camp.
    We turned south on the Mahoosuc Trail and we realized there was more snow here because our heads were hitting the tree branches above the trail. Route finding was challenging since the white blazes of the AT are few and far between and were difficult to see in the snowy conditions. We quickly got up and down the steep ledge near the bottom of the col between Carlo and Success because our snowshoe’s crampons stuck fast to the ice and snow.

    The 5.5 mile drive from Berlin to the Success Trailhead on Success Pond Road would have made an exciting episode of Ice Road Truckers. Thankfully I didn’t join the list of “stupid hiker drivers” stories told by the local tow truck operators.

    We put on our puffy jackets before we let Mount Success wow us with its open windswept summit. Rocks and ice covered the summit ledge. Below, the ice covered bog bridges across the frozen meadow poked through little snow. The wind was cold here. Danielle stopped to take some photos and I felt too cold to stop yet and so I hurried off past her to reach the other side of the mountain where I recalled the views were more open to the Presidentials. We enjoyed the grand vista far and wide.

    On our return we walked out on the frozen ground to an area that would not be easily reached in the summer to a rocky knob with a fine view down to The Outlook.
    The trip back down the mountain went by quickly. This was Danielle’s first visit to Mount Success and we could not have asked for a more splendid winter day.
    I wasn’t looking forward to the drive back and in fact I forced myself during the hike not to think about the icy road because it wouldn’t help to worry.
    There are mile markers on the road. Mile marker five was missing but 4, 3, 2, 1 were a welcome sight. I drove slowly and often on the wrong side of the road with my wheels in the same snowbank that delivered us to the trailhead safely.
    As we neared the last big uphill and the final downhill to the snow removal dump my palms were sweating and I was nervous. I increased my speed for the steep climb and my car just barely had enough oomph to reach the crown of the hill.
    I had no time to enjoy the fact we had not slid down backwards because now I could just barely see through the sun’s glare reflected off the ice covered steep chute. I couldn’t help but notice that the road aimed directly at the bulldozer parked in the middle of the flat ice rink below. We now noticed numerous truck ruts that led into the ditch where my car would find no return.
    Again, thankfully my car did not turn into an out of control bobsled. With the wheels in the snowbank as far as I dared keep them we crept straight down that hill a bit faster than comfortable but the car didn’t slide into the ditch. We made it and we didn’t even come close to ramming the bulldozer.
    We enjoyed a good day on the mountain and there were some scary thrilling moments on the drive that I would have rather skipped. Yes, not my smartest decision I decided. And what would I have said to my husband if he had smashed up his car on this icy road? I didn’t want to think about it, it was behind me now.
    When we were back on nice black pavement something popped into my mind, “Why didn’t I put the chains on my rear tires?” Duh! Next time, right, if there is ever a next time. 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.


  • Two Wonderful Wednesdays Killington & Okemo

    Yours truly frolicking down Frolic on Snowdon Mountain Peak. Vermont’s Killington Resort’s six peaks, Killington, Skye, Ramshead, Snowdon, Bear Mountain and Sunrise, provide 150 trails and 3,050 vertical feet of skiing and riding.

    By Amy PatenaudeSki/Outdoor Writer

    Our friends on the other side of the Connecticut River have a lot of nice ski areas too. Killington Resort and Okemo Mountain Resort are worth the extra drive and especially when they treat New Hampshirites like locals.
    When one of my friends asked me if I wanted to go to Killington with him I jumped. The snow conditions were the best—packed powder everywhere and they reported 154 out of 155 trails open. The upcoming weekend forecast had that ugly “R” word and I rationalized I should go get it while the getting was good.
    Killington offers $58 dollar lift tickets to Vermont and New Hampshire residents on Tuesdays and Wednesdays but not during holiday weeks. I handed my driver’s license over the counter with my money. The sales clerk handed me a lift ticket and she reminded me that Tuesdays are New Hampshire days too and to come back again soon.
    I met Jeremy at the K-1 Lodge and booted up and we made it to the lift line at 9 am just as they started loading the gondola with eager skiers and snowboarders.
    On the ride up I knew it was going to be a great day. The sun was shining and the snow sparkled on the trees and slopes. Best of all there was little to no wind and the temperature was in the double digits and rising.
    On top of the mountain I was wowed by the view. I have skied Killington dozens of times but I realized this was the first time I had ever been here when the vista was crystal clear. All over Killington Peak I could see fabulous mountain vistas. I could see so much more than Vermont’s peaks the Adirondacks in New York and New Hampshire’s White Mountains starring Mount Washington could all be clearly seen by the naked eye.

    Checking out “The Stash” an all natural inspired terrain park on Killington’s Bear Mountain Peak.

    We skied and skied. I think we were on a mission to ski every trail on the mountain. The cold packed powder snow was dreamy. Killington Resort’s trails connect their six peaks. We skied a few top to bottom runs back to the gondola and then more runs on Bear Mountain and Skye Peak before heading over to Snowdon Mountain and Ramshead Mountain.
    People were skiing and riding and dropping into the trees off of the trails on Snowdon and Ramshead.
    This was the nicest day I have ever had at Killington. I have skied here dozens of times but mostly for early or late season when not every trail was open.
    At the Ramshead Lodge we stopped for lunch at 11:30. I had the burger special with lots of bacon and cheese and Jeremy had chicken tenders and fries and of course hot chocolate too.
    We continued our mission covering as many trails as possible. We even skied down to Route 4 and rode the Skyeship Express Gondola back up to the top of Skye Peak. That was a first for me.
    Just after 2 pm we took a short break right at the top of the mountain in the Killington Peak Lodge. We had a drink and my legs sure appreciated a little rest. Jeremy was more eager to get back out.
    Superstar never skied sweeter. The trail is covered in deep snow and it will last long into the spring and maybe into summer at the rate this winter is going.

    Au natural snow on the Killington’s South Ridge Trail The Jug, follows an abandoned lift line.

    I can recall our last run because it is the trail I have skied the most in early season, Double-dipper to Cascade down to the K-1 Lodge. The lifts closed at 4 pm and we finished at 4:05. The skiing had been so good that I didn’t want to stop but my legs were glad the lifts were closed.
    Jeremy tracked our day, we made 25 runs and skied 30,800 vertical feet. I was surprised at our total but on second thought there was a reason I was worn out.

    Yours truly, Kris and Sharon celebrate a snow day at Okemo Mountain Resort, Ludlow, Vermont.

    Okemo Mountain Resort offers a special for Vermont and New Hampshire residents, Wonderful Wednesdays, non-holiday, all day for just $45 (plus $5 if you don’t already have their RFID card).
    The three of us had planned to go skiing together over a month ago. When I woke up it was snowing. We were going to go to a resort 3 hours away but after a few messages back and forth we decided we would still go skiing but we’d stay to closer to home. Okemo Mountain had been on our short list of places we wanted to ski together this season and it was less than an hour and a half away.
    I picked up Kris and Sharon in New London and we were on our way. The snow fell lightly, the roads were okay and traffic moved along at a reasonable speed.
    Sharon is a good luck charm. Every time I ski with her it snows!
    Kris skis Okemo often and knows her way around. She suggested that we start from the Jackson Gore base area.
    Mid-week skiing is less crowded but a mid-week morning during a snowstorm makes it feel like you own the place. During a snowstorm it takes a while longer for people to show up. The only time all day we waited in a short lift line was after lunch at the Sunburst 6-pack.
    We took the lift from the base and worked our way over to the Quantum Four-bubble chair that carried us to the top of Jackson-Gore Peak. While most everyone else scurried off to Okemo Peak we skied Jack Gore’s trails and made fresh tracks for a half a dozen runs in a row.

    Kris and Sharon making fresh tracks on Quantum Leap underneath Okemo Mountain Resort’s warm and comfy Quantum Quad orange bubble chairlift.

     

    Okemo Mountain Resort boasts 121 trails and delivers 2,200 vertical feet. Nearby the Okemo Valley Nordic Center offers groomed trails for cross-country skiing and access to snowshoe trails.

    Down Limelight, White Lightning and Rolling Thunder we let our skis glide through the fresh snow. Kris thought the snow was like silk. I thought it was like butter. Our skis just glided and we floated while we made easy turns.
    We cruised over to the main mountain and the tracked out snow was still cold and fluffy. We skied World Cup and took a run through their terrain park but we stayed clear of the jumps and features.
    At the Summit Lodge we had lunch. Hot homemade chicken soup, grilled cheese sandwiches and a fresh made Rice Crispy square hit the spot. Of course we had hot chocolate too.
    The snow continued to fall and for the views we were lucky to be able to see the buildings down below at the base. When we were on Okemo Peak we could barely see the top of the fire tower.
    Okemo has made a great amount of snow and with the four or five inches of new fluff on top the only evidence we had that there was a big thaw a week ago is that the glades were not open. The snow was great and worthy of the accolades they receive for their snowmaking and grooming.
    We had a fun day making lots of runs and enjoying the chairlift rides together.
    On the way home we stopped at the famous Singleton’s General Store in Proctorsville, Vermont. It is truly one of those stores where if they don’t have it you don’t need it. Between the three of us we bought a pair of pants, a shirt, smoked sausage and we admired the pink Smith & Wesson 380 displayed behind the gun case glass.
    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.