The Belknap Mountains offer many opportunities for hiking. Mount Major is certainly one of the most popular peaks to hike in New Hampshire due to its wide ledgy summit and sweeping lake and mountain panorama.
To reach Major’s summit it requires hiking 3 miles and climbing over a thousand feet of elevation. Lots of people of all ages and abilities do it and I hope someday you might get the chance.
But there is another fine perch that is shorter and less challenging to reach. It’s not far from Mount Major and it offers a splendid vista of Lake Winnipesaukee, the Ossipees and the White Mountains too. That’s Lockes Hill—a miniature Mount Major!
Lockes Hill was the 280 acre estate of Boston and Montreal Railroad President Benjamin Kimball. In 1897 he built a castle overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee on the property. His heirs established a trust for the study and enjoyment of wildlife habitat and the Town of Gilford was appointed the trustee. The public does not have access to the castle, it is privately owned.
The Lockes Hill trailhead right off of Route 11 in Gilford about 3 miles east of the Laconia Airport. The parking lot entrance is marked with a brown hiker icon highway sign.
Charlie and I knew we would be driving by the Lockes Hill so we planned to do the short hike. We decided to make a 1.8 mile counter-clockwise loop by going up the Lakeview Trail and coming down the Quarry Trail.
The Lakeview Trail begins on the right just as you enter the parking lot. There is a sign and be sure to take a trail guide from the mailbox here. The Lakeview Trail switchbacks as the trail climbs up the slope, there are many rock steps. Along the trails are interpretive stations that are fun to read to learn about the Kimball Wildlife Forest and its inhabitants.
Nearing the top of the hill we reached “The Glade” –a cleared area for wildlife habitat and to open the vista. We had only hiked half a mile with less than 500 vertical feet of climbing and we were wowed by the view. Plus the area just off the trail is rocky and people have stacked the rocks to make chairs or maybe I should call them stone thrones.
We looked down at the Big Lake and over its broad water and islands to the mountains. There is a distance viewer mounted here and Charlie and I used it to peek at boats on the water. Hiking to just here and back would be a worthy outing.
We continued to the top and there was a spur path to a distance viewer and another fine vista. This perch allowed us to see further to the west.
The Lakeview Trail meets the Quarry trail at the Lockes Hill beacon, a light on top of a utility pole for the benefit of warning airplanes headed to the Laconia Airport. We poked around the top and found yet a third distance viewer at an opening with a good view of Gunstock and Belknap Mountains.
We headed down the Quarry Trail and it was less rocky and had a softer footbed. The hemlock forest turned into a hardwoods as we got off the ridge. We passed by an area that had been recently logged and we decided to leave the trail and check out the view from newly opened area. We looked west and could see a hazy view of Mount Cardigan.
We descended some rock steps and went across stepping stones past a pool that was part of the old quarry site where the stones were cut for the Kimball’s castle.
From here we followed an old logging road back to the parking area.
The trails are well marked with blue blazes and are easy to follow.
This was a super hike and Lockes Hill is treasure.
Amy Patenaude is an avid skier/outdoor enthusiast from Henniker, N.H. Readers are welcome to send comments or suggestions to her at: email@example.com.
Becca and I met mid-morning in the Flume Visitor Center. The Flume was a happening place and we were not able to park in the north lot nearest the beginning of the Franconia Notch Recreation Path but there was still plenty of room in the lower lots.
The clouds were still low and the ground was wet from the previous evening’s rain storm but the air was warm and comfortable. A few years have passed by since the last time either one of us had taken our bicycles for a spin on this path. We both joked that the nearly 10 mile long path was uphill in both directions but actually the elevation gain from the southern terminus at the Flume to the northern terminus at the Skookumchuck Trailhead climbs 800 feet in elevation.
The Franconia Notch Recreation Path isn’t what many expect to find in a bicycle path. There are steep uphills and downhills and though I am not sure the exact width of the pavement but when meeting approaching cyclists it sometimes feels quite narrow. Plus there are walkers and hikers using the path to reach attractions and trailheads too.
But what it lacks as a bicycle super highway it more than makes up with grand scenery that should be enjoyed at a slower pace. I do recommend parents lead their children and set a safe slower pace during descents.
We pedaled steadily for a couple miles up the path before stopping to view the Basin. Here there were lots of visitors walking from the parking area to the Basin. It was a lovely sight to see the high water swirling around the natural granite bowl.
For our next stop we took a slight detour off the path to the Lafayette Place Campground headquarters and camp store. The camp store is well stocked with all the provisions to keep campers happy—from foam sleeping pads to bug-dope.
From the campground the path continues to climb and passes near the scree field below the mighty mile long Cannon Cliff. The clouds were rising and we could see rock climbers making their way up the cliff’s steep bare face. We also enjoyed views of Eagle Cliff on the east wall of the Notch.
The path crosses under the Parkway when it reaches Profile Lake because the Parkway tightly hugs its shore. Now on the other side we pedaled past the small wayside that was once a popular viewing site to see the Old Man of the Mountain. In a short distance the path goes back under the Parkway and intersects with the path to the Old Man of the Mountain Profile Plaza.
The plaza has granite benches, engraved pavers sponsored by supporters of the Old Man Legacy Fund and steel “profilers” that recreate the visage of the Old Man high above Profile Lake on the north edge of the Cannon Cliff. It is a pretty place and it’s worth it to take the time to visit the historic site.
Becca and I wished we could put the old Man back up on Mountain. Fiberglass, plastic or even a big balloon might do the trick. Looking at where he used to be doesn’t bring him back.
We rode past the Cannon Mountain Tramway and the New England Ski Museum, not enough time to do everything in one day! The path continues past Echo Lake and people were out enjoying the paddleboats that they rent at the State Park breach.
The downhill after passing under Route 18 requires caution because it is long and steep. Right above there are good glimpses of Artist’s Bluff Cliff. Then there is a sharp turn and a big uphill that goes right under Interstate 93 and tops out at the Old Route 3 and the Governor Gallen Memorial and the Sunset Bridge.
From here it is less than two miles of near flat pedaling to the Skookumchuck Trail parking area. This would be a swell place to have a short easy out and back bicycle ride between the Galllen Memorial and the Skookumchuck Trailhead. Very good riding for people that want to avoid hills.
We turned around and rode straight back to the Flume, yes it was more downhill and a lot of fun. But the day was only half over. We threw our bicycles in the car and drove a few miles down the Notch and pulled into the Clark’s Trading Post.
We bought out tickets and the ticket taker stamped a black bear paw print on the back of our hands. It was nearly 2 o’clock and we rushed to the show ring to watch the acrobats. The agility and strength of these people were a sight to behold. You won’t think of hula hoops, handstands or how to squeeze into a tight place the same way ever again!
The Conductor called “ All aboard” for the train ride and reassured us we’d be back in time for the Bear Show at 3pm. We made our way to the train with the crowd and took our seats. Yes, both of us have made the journey into Wolfman’s claim and yelled “Scram you old goat”! We were delighted by the small children’s reactions to the Wolfman.
We did get back in time for standing room only on the upper part of the Show Ring for the main attraction, the bear show. Echo and Tula performed a wonderful show and the Clark’s continue the family tradition of peppering the show with sweet corny bear puns. The show starts with the raising of the Flag, a bit of recycling, getting the mail and a good game of Bearsketball.
Echo and Tula are stars and the Clark’s gentle loving care just glows as they encourage their bears during their performance. A good serving of education about New Hampshire’s black bear population is squeezed in between all the fun too.
After the bear show Becca and I decided to visit the Museums—old typewriters and a stuffed two headed calf caught our attention. Next inside Merlin’s Mystical Mansion and we enjoyed the benefits of not aging and some loud music.
We skipped the water boats and the Old Man Climbing Tower (maybe Clark’s could put the Old Man back?) but we did ride Wolfie’s White Mountain Wheelin’ Segways. This is your chance to ride the self-balancing Segway scooters and at no additional charge.
New for this season is the renovation of the Tuttle’s homestead into the Tuttle’s Shootin’ Gallery, this is a pay to play ($3 for 20 shots or all you can shoot in 1 minute). We decided to try the laser-guns and we blasted away more than 20 shots in a minute at the Tuttle’s possessions! It is a nice addition but of course I wish it was included in the admission price as is nearly everything else at Clark’s.
We saved taking the plunge on the Anaconda Escape Water Raft Ride for last. We climbed the stairs to the top and got into the raft and we were launched down the rapids inside the big snake. It was exciting and yes we got wet but we didn’t care since the day had turned sunny and hot.
The fun days of summer go by too fast. Round up your family and together.
At the top of Franconia Notch and high above the west side of the Parkway are Bald Mountain and Artist’s Bluff. A hike up one or both make for a wonderful outing with the reward of big mountain views for a modest effort.
Interstate 93 turns into the Franconia Notch Parkway as the road enters the narrow notch. Franconia Notch is just packed with interesting places to see and fun things to do: the Flume Gorge, Cannon Cliff, Lafayette Place Campground, the Old Man of the Mountain historic site, Profile Lake, Cannon Mountain’s Tramway & the New England Ski Museum, Echo Lake and more. These are places every New Hampshirite should visit and take their out of town friends with them too.
Exit 34C is the last Parkway exit at the north end of Franconia Notch and the exit you must take to reach the hiking trails to Artist’s Bluff and Bald Mountain. Turn west on Route 18 to Echo Lake for the east trailhead – 6/10ths of a mile roundtrip to Artist’s Bluff or to Cannon’s Peabody Lodge for the west trailhead – 8/10ths of a mile roundtrip to Bald Mountain. Or make a loop over the two peaks and back to your car is about 2 miles.
I like visiting both peaks and I don’t think it makes much difference whether you choose to hike the loop clockwise or counter clockwise. But one thing I like to do is to park my car where I am planning to end my hike. I prefer to warm up hiking the lower portion of the loop trail first.
This day I parked my car at the Peabody Lodge because I wanted to hike Artist’s Bluff first and then Bald Mountain.
The west trailhead is across from the Cannon Peabody Lodge entrance on the far side of the north parking lot, this is the parking lot that is blocked off to cars during the summer months. There is room for a few cars to park alongside the road at its blocked entrance or and there is plenty of parking at the ski area.
This past mid-May the Trailwrights, a volunteer group of trail maintainers, cleared the trails and did basic spring clean-up. You will find the trails in good condition and well blazed.
I started up the trail and turned right on the Loop Trail, marked with red blazes. The trail goes gently downhill and intersects with the trail that leads up to Artist’s Bluff. This is nicer than walking the road between the two trailheads.
I turned left and headed up the short and steep trail. The steepest sections have nice rock stairways. This is the most popular hike; it may be steep but it is short. The bare cliffs of the bluff are a favorite for early spring rock climbing because they dry out quickly. A couple of groups were rock climbing and taking advantage of this rare sunny dry spring day!
I wasn’t surprised to find dozens of people sitting on top of Artist’s Bluff. A few were eating picnic lunches and others were just relaxing in the sunshine on the bare ledges.
A man asked me to confirm that the big peak to the west was Lafayette. I spent a few minutes with him and his family pointing out and naming the nearby peaks. Another man close by chimed in that he had hiked Lafayette when he was young man.
I hiked back down to the trail and turned right and continued up hill. There are some good wildflowers to see along the way between the peaks. Trilliums were on their way out and the Pink Lady Slippers were just starting to bloom. There are a few rock outcroppings just off the trail that offer grand vistas too.
Up and over and then down until I reached the Bald Mountain spur and I headed up. This trail up to the top is more difficult. This peak is a true mini-mountain. Near the bare ledgy summit you might have to scramble on all fours. Even though the distance is short it truly feels like you reached a big bald mountaintop.
I gather that most people skip visiting this fine peak. While there were dozens and dozens on Artist’s Bluff there were only a few people up here. I find that this is usually the case.
There are still a few iron pieces here and there bolted into the ledge. A reminder from a time long ago when there no cars flying up the parkway, no ski trails on Cannon Mountain and there was a large hotel, the Profile House standing near where the Tramway is today. These iron pieces might have held in place a handrail or a viewing platform to delight the guests of the hotel.
When the Profile House burned, the owners decided not to rebuild but to sell Franconia Notch to the State of New Hampshire. Franconia Notch State Park was born in 1928.
From the top of Bald Mountain this is the best place to study Cannon’s ski trails and to look for bears foraging on its grassy slopes.
When I finished the loop I only had a short walk across the parking lot to get back to my car.
This winter my friend from Maryland told me she wanted to climb Mount Washington with me this spring. I laughed.
I quickly suggested perhaps a less challenging peak would be a good idea before heading up the highest peak in the Northeast United States. The best thing you can say about spring weather on Mount Washington is that it is erratic and a trip up Mount Washington is to be taken seriously any time of year.
I really enjoy taking my friends hiking. I want the hike to be fun and I want my friends to come back to hike again.
Sue and her husband Tom arrived in New Hampshire a few days early before they had to pick up their son at Proctor Academy. Our window for a hike was small and thankfully we had one wonderful warm clear day between all these rainy days.
I decided to hike Mount Moosilauke. We could make a nice loop over the mountain. The trails are moderate and since the peak is a bit further south it would have little to no snow and ice. Another plus is that Moosilauke has a super big broad summit all above tree-line and has one of the finest mountain vistas in the Whites.
I picked up Sharon in New London and began our fun drive to the mountain–we grabbed yummy breakfast sandwiches at the Danbury Country Store, enjoyed the view of Cardigan over Newfound Lake, scratched our heads at the sight of Warren’s Redstone Missile and all the while we watched for moose.
We arrived at the new “angle parking only” on Ravine Lodge Road promptly at 9:30 and Sue and Tom were already waiting for us. We booted up and packed up and started the road walk to the trailhead.
The new Dartmouth College Ravine Lodge is well under way and they hope to have the new Lodge completed this fall. In the meantime hikers have to park a mile away to make room for all the necessities of construction. We followed the trail signs around the hardhat only area to just below the Lodge near the Baker River.
I just love the bright orange and black Dartmouth Outing Club (DOC) signs! They are so easy to find and to read. I told my friends to read the signs Continue reading → Post ID 2901
This time of year Mother Nature gives us many cold rainy days but she can deliver a nice warm sunny day to tease us while we wait for summer to arrive. Spring weather is fickle but at least the days are longer and we have time to go for a hike after work.
Right now south of the White Mountains is a good place to hike since there is still plenty of mud and snow on higher mountaintop trails.
The City of Concord has over 50 miles of trails (http://www.concordnh.gov/trails) and the 77 acre Marjory Park Swope Park has about two miles of trails over and around Jerry Hill with big outlooks and connections to more trails. The trailhead is easily reached from Route 202, just west of St. Paul’s School, 8/10th of a mile up Long Pond Road, parking area is on the left.
On this splendid afternoon, Danielle and I decided to meet up after work for a quick hike. Danielle is nearing completing the New Hampshire Fire Tower List and is waiting patiently for a road up north to reopen so she can finish. Visiting Jerry Hill came to mind as something nearby and fun–it has concrete footing remains from a long gone observation tower on top. It may not be on the list but we like collecting peaks.
At the trailhead there is a kiosk with a trail map. There is also something else interesting here, it is home to one of Concord’s six “Little Libraries”—an Eagle Scout Project. A weatherproof box on a pole that is a small library that people can use to exchange books for free.
From the kiosk go left to find the Blue Trail loop, we decided to go clockwise and then take the right onto the Yellow Trail to go straight up to the top of Jerry Hill.
The trails are easy to follow and there are lots of colored painted blazes on the trees.
The trail climbs about 300 vertical feet in just over half a mile to reach the wooded summit of Jerry Hill. We jumped on top of the concrete footings. Just like we always do when we find tower remains we wished that the tower was still standing.
Next we backtracked a short distance to the Orange Trail that we had just passed by. The Orange Trail leads to Gilfillan Rock, an outcropping of granite where most likely St. Paul students chiseled the name in memory of a classmate. Be sure to climb up on the rock to see the other carvings in the ledge—graffiti before spray cans perhaps?
Just past the Rock is a fabulous open outlook to the southwest. We could clearly see Pats Peak and Crotched Mountain and just to the right of Crotched further in the distance was Mount Monadnock.
We returned to the footings and continued to follow the Yellow Trail down where we were treated to a nice view of Mount Kearsarge before intersecting with the Blue Trail.
We turned right on the Blue Trail and in no time we reached the big vista of Penacook Lake aka Long Pond. Here there is a nice bench to sit on while enjoying the vista to the north. Over the water there are splendid mountain views, Bean Hill aka Highlands in Northfield and further beyond the Belknaps can be seen.
We continued down the Blue Trail and passed by a section of trail where trail work was recently done to make the path’s foot bed well graded. These are nice trails.
Next time you’re in Concord make it a point to take a hike.
This is harder than I thought it would be, are we more than half way yet?” asked a tuckered out man sitting on a rock on the side of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail. Becca and I just looked at each other because we knew we weren’t close yet. “We get there when we get there,” we cheerfully chirped.
Sure our packs were heavy, between 30 and 40 pounds, loaded with our ski/snowboard gear, clothing and food and beverages. The tuckered out man’s pack was much heavier because on top of his ski gear he was carrying camping supplies for spending the night at the Hermit Lake Shelters. A few moments later we passed a few of his friends. One of the men had a bloody face; he fell on it when he tripped on the trail. Yikes!
Hiking up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail isn’t easy, but thousands of people do it every spring to reach the snow that has piled up in Mount Washington’s most famous ravine, Tuckerman Ravine. The Dartmouth Outing Club, young Brooks Dodge and the Inferno Ski Race over the Ravine’s Headwall are legendary.
Young adventurers still come to ski in the dangerous mountains where avalanches roll alongside partying college students and older diehards that choose the less steep slopes—I don’t think things have changed much since the 1940s.
As we hiked up the rocky Tuckerman Ravine Trail the snow started to appear and in less than a mile we were walking on hard packed snow suitable for skinning.
Yes, I went skiing four days in a row.
Why not keep skiing until the snow has all melted away. As I sit here and write the weather forecast is warning me of another Nor’easter! Really? I can’t believe it. I don’t even dare express my glee. I know I am in the minority. Nearly everyone is ready for full blown spring—flowers, green grass, warm temperatures, but not me. I’m still have too much fun skiing. Thursday: Night Skiing At Pats Peak
Becca, Jeremy and I met up to enjoy the last Thursday night of the season at Pats Peak. The Sun was still shining and the slopes were covered from edge to edge with lots of snow. We rode the Hurricane triple chair together.
At the summit we stopped to admire the Peak double chair and we knew we wouldn’t be riding it ever again. This summer the old reliable lift will be removed and replaced with a lift that will carry more people to the summit per hour—a quad-chair with a loading carpet.
We skied all the trails from the top except the Hurricane. We timed it just right arriving at the summit to join a dozen others waiting to watch the sunset. We stood near the top of Twister and the FIS trail. We looked west and watched the sun sink quickly behind the hills just to the south of Lovewell Mountain. The sky was gold and red.
Friday: Racing at Sunapee
Mount Sunapee’s 20th annual TGIF’s April Fools race is dedicated to remembering our friends Mark Parris and Rick Hall. These young men left us too soon but they both loved skiing and they liked to have fun. We shared fond memories and had fun in their honor.
I arrived mid-morning and I joined up with my friend Doug’s alma-mater skiing group—Norwich University! Doug and his dozen or so classmates are really top notch skiers. I am not kidding we did more than ten runs, raced two runs and then skied another twenty runs.
These men came to ski. Of course the weather was not much like spring, it was cloudy and snowing. As the day went on the new snow accumulated and we were turning on skis on several inches of soft wonderful powder. No wonder no one wanted to stop.
Apres ski in the Spruce lodge’s Goosefeathers Pub there were awards and beverages. There are a lot of fast skiers a lot younger than me now and I guess that’s what happens in 20 years. Happy to see the traditions of classmates and fellow citizen racers continue and I plan on being here in another 20 years.
Saturday: Mittersill Fun At Cannon
Cannon had a packed house on Saturday. New snow and Bodefest had the skiers and snowboarders arriving at the mountain early. The main parking lots were full and thanks to cell phones I was able to call Becca and tell her I was parked at Mittersill.
Becca arrived early and following the uphill policy of Cannon she skinned up the ski trail route to the 4,000 foot summit of the mountain. Then she enjoyed a nice ride down the mountain that she had earned with her own feet.
We met at the Mittersill chairlift and we did eight runs but we mostly skied in the glades. There is a lot of snow on the groomed trails but there is a lot of snow in the trees too. We found lots of fresh snow too. Idiot’s Delight (I have no idea why this glade is named that) was super soft and it was fun winding down the mountain between the trees.
Then we went to the summit for a couple runs. The clouds were thick above three thousand feet and this made the visibility difficult. So back to Mittersill we went for the best light and snow.
Sunday: Family Skiing At Loon Mountain
On Saturday night our niece’s husband, Mike and their three daughters arrived to spend the night. Mike also brought along his friend Kevin with his two daughters. They drove up I-93 all the way from Boston. Loon and Cannon are their favorite choices for a day outing because it is an easy drive.
They made a big supper on the barbeque, beer can chicken. The chicken was moist and yummy and a big salad and other fixings. Then everyone was off to bed early in preparation for getting up early to ski Loon.
Skiing with these kids is fun, they love skiing and their skills improve each time they get out on the snow. There is a lot of laughter and hustling in the lift line to ride with their favorite pal. Kevin skied with his four year old on the 7 brothers lift, green circle trails near the base of the Octagon Lodge. Mike and I took turns being the sweep behind the gang of children that increased during the day. Mike kept meeting friends from Boston on the slopes and we all skied together.
We rode the gondola up and then skied down to the horizontal chair lift, the Tote Road Quad, which connects South Peak to the rest of the ski area. This lift is a favorite of children. People ride the lift in both directions and riders are facing one another as the chairs pass by as the cable moves along. The kids yell in unison, “Mustard or Ketchup?” “Cake or Ice Cream?” The approaching riders on the other side of the lift answer back, more often than not, loudly with their favorite choice.
This was the last weekend that South Peak would be open, not for lack of snow it would be closed. Loon was pleasantly full of skiers and riders but it was more like a nice weekday than a busy weekend. There were little to no lift lines and just a short wait for the gondola.
We enjoyed it all. From North Peak’s Walking Boss glades to Cruiser on South Peak and everything in between. The sun warmed us and the blue sky and the views of grand mountain peaks were endless. Truly a perfect day to take the children skiing. We even had our choice of tables when we went in for lunch. The luxury of Spring skiing shouldn’t be missed.
But, but, but April is AWESOME. April has longer and warmer sunny days and the slopes and mountains are still heavily blanketed with nice snow. This is the last weekend for Waterville Valley. Cannon and Loon’s proposed closing date is the 16th and Bretton Woods’ the 17th. Wildcat hopes to hang in there until the 30th.
Winter hasn’t given up yet and there’s proof! We’re still shoveling the snow that winter storm Stella left behind as she blew through our state.
Stella has made winter enthusiasts smile big. Skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers and snowmobilers rejoiced. Even before the blizzard there still was a lot of snow in the mountains and covering your local ski slopes.
The day before Stella was forecasted to arrive it was a lovely Spring-like day. There was no snow in my yard, the sun was shining and it now stays light out well after 5pm. I grabbed my skis and backpack and jumped into my car and drove to ski Mount Chocorua.
The Fat Lady has not begun singing yet.
There is still plenty of snow on the mountaintops and on the ski slopes.
Don’t give up on Winter!
Keep skiing, snowboarding, tubing and snowshoeing until the last snowflake melts. Join me in a snow-dance.
The days are getting longer and the mercury in the thermometer (or whatever that red stuff is now days) is on the rise. Spring is coming soon—the 2017 Spring Equinox will be at 6:28 am on Monday March 20th
Spring is fun and the proof is the goofy stuff people do on the slopes such as pond skimming. We dress up and try to ski or snowboard across a man-made icy cold pond. Sometimes with success but more often than not the result is a big splash. From now one you can pond skim somewhere every weekend.
Check with your local resort when they are hosting their Spring Celebration of pond skimming.
Pats Peak and Gunstock will be hosting their pond skimming contests on March 18th. Don’t forget to wear a costume to score the maximum points with the cheering crowds.
Bretton Woods’ Annual Beach Party and Slush Pool is being held on March 25th with live music and a lift ticket special pre-buy on-line $30 lift ticket.
April 1st, April Fools’ Day, Waterville Valley celebrates with $1 lift tickets (no joke) and hosts their Last Run Luau Pond Ski. Also on April Fools’ Day Mount Sunapee hosts its 19th Annual Mount Sunapee Slush Cup and Sunapee is famous for their very challenging long pond.
Loon Mountain’s Slushpool Party & Wet Tug-O-War and Cannon Mountain’s Blizzard Splash Pond will be both held on April 8th.
Yes, there is still snow on the mountaintops. You may start out bare-booting but please wear your snowshoes and not post-hole your way up the trail when you reach the snow. There is nothing like frozen holes in the snow to make for difficult travel up and down the trails.
I can forgive the moose but people’s frozen track traps are easily preventable.
We just recently snowshoed the Northern Presidentials—Madison, Adams, Jefferson, Washington and we summited Monroe too. What a sunny super day we had and the snowshoe track across the summits was in nice shape and in many places smooth like a sidewalk. But the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail had seen a great deal of traffic and had quite a few post-holes.
I don’t know how people can stand sinking deep down as much as mid-thigh high.
We saw a few skiers skinning their way up along the railway tracks and then later descending down into the Ammonoosuc drainage and back to the Cog Station. Soon we’ll all make a trip to Tuckerman Ravine.
Enjoy the snow, summer lasts a long, long time.
Lots of bright white snow and blue skies tempted us to skip out of work after lunch to go skiing. After all it was Valentine’s Day.
Charlie and I were able to get on our way by 1:30 and the drive to Gunstock Mountain Resort in Gilford was just an hour (about 40 minutes from Concord). We pulled in front of the Nordic Center and I jumped out of the car and ran inside to buy trail passes. To celebrate Valentine’s Day the mountain offered a special deal—trial passes and lift tickets were 2 for 1!
With passes in hand I jumped back into the car and we drove to the ski area’s main parking lot and parked near the Snow Groomer/Maintenance Sheds. We parked here instead of at the Nordic Center because I planned to do downhill skiing later while Charlie would continue to cross country ski. From here it is just a short walk to the trails and to the ski lifts.
We put on our cross country ski boots and dressed at the car. I forgot my light jacket but lucky me Charlie just happened to have an extra one in his bag. I used my no wax skis and Charlie rubbed some old extra blue wax on the kick zone of his skis. We walked a short distance past the sheds to where the Nordic trail crosses the road. We put on skis and headed up the Cobble Mountain Trail.
Oh, the trail was groomed wide for skating and a pair of perfectly cut grooves, nice tracks were made on one side of the trail. This season’s bounty of snow is making for excellent cross country skiing and snowshoeing.
We kicked and glided up the trail. My skis were okay but didn’t kick strong since the snow was still somewhat cold and powdery. Charlie’s skis kicked like a mule and yet his skis glided fast in the tracks too. He was giddy for so easily finding the perfect wax. The Cobble Mountain Trail is very skiable. The trail doesn’t climb all the way to the summit but climbs and then rolls down and then wraps its way around circling the peak through the forest.
At the far end of the Cobble Mountain Loop we turned and followed the Rock Loop where the low and soon to be setting sun reflected brightly on the snow covered marsh at the forest’s edge. The short loop’s scenery was nice and once again we were back into the forest skiing our way around the mountain and working our way back to where we began. The loop we made around the mountain is about 5k (3 miles).
Back at the road crossing at the sheds I clicked out of my skis and wished Charlie a happy ski. He continued up the trail and I ran back to the car.
I admit I was in a hurry to get on the Gunstock’s slopes. The Panorama lift closes at 4pm and I wanted to catch at least one ride to the summit. I don’t think I have ever so quickly changed my clothes and equipment.
People trying to walk fast in ski boots while carrying their skis look silly. No doubt I looked silly, there is nothing graceful about it. I awkwardly clomped along to the far side of the parking lot trying to get to the ticket booth at the lodge.
Luckily I was able to walk right up to an open register at the ticket counter. I was greeted with a smile. I am certain I am not the first Ski Nut to run in and try to get a ticket with no time to spare. As the ticket was printing I said I hope to make the last chair to the summit and she replied, “I know.” My face was red and I felt foolish but I was still hopeful I’d make it. She handed me my ticket and as fast as I could say “thank you” I was out the door.
I placed my lift ticket between my teeth so I could grab my skis and I continued my hustle up the hill to the lift. I began to lecture myself for not allowing enough time. I could see a ski patrolman standing near the lift. A lift attendant was taking down some ropes. Skiers and snowboarders were still sliding up and loading the lift. Yikes!
My heart was beating fast as I clicked into my skis and I fumbled to attach my lift ticket. Whew, I made it. At the last moment another skier glided up and joined me on the chair. He was happy to get one more ride.
On Gunstock’s summit there was little wind and the view north over Lake Winnipesaukee to the mountains was grand. This was the reason I didn’t want to miss the lift to the summit. There were at least a dozen other people just hanging out on top enjoying the view too. Mount Washington’s white cone was visible far away and the Ossipee Mountains looked like they were hugging the other side of the Lake.
I chose to take the natural snow covered ungroomed Recoil Trail. I picked my way down over the moguls. Nice. Thank you Mother Nature for the cool snow.
I went over to the Ramrod Quad and did a couple of runs: one down the race trail and another the trail next to it. The snow was soft and easy to turn.
I skated over to the Tiger triple chair and took a few more runs over there. A high school race was finishing up on Tiger and race training was happening on Cannonball. So I decided to traverse over to the Pistol lift and the terrain park.
As I neared the last turn to the lift I caught a glimpse of Charlie cross country skiing towards the main lodge. The lights were on and it was starting to get dark. I skied right up to him and surprised him. That was good Valentine’s Day luck that he didn’t’ have wait and look for me.
We had hot chocolate in the main lodge together and then I went back out for a little more.
I took a few runs over on the Tiger lift. In the short time I had been away they had groomed the Tiger Trail and opened the trail. Nothing like skiing a freshly groomed trail. Laconia and towns far away had a warm glow like distance Christmas lights.
T’was a fine day for cross country skiing and a fine night for skiing.
Skiing is sweeter than a box of chocolates.
Sharon and I bought the Mountain Collective Pass last March. We went to Whistler, British Columbia, Canada the second week of December. We also made a day trip to Stowe, Vermont a few weeks later. By using our pass for these ski trips we received more value than if we had purchased lift tickets and every outing after that would be a bigger bonus.
The Mountain Collective Pass provides two day lift tickets at 24 resorts and since we signed up early we were given a bonus day (we used it at Whistler).
Charlie’s brother Billy lives in Sun Valley. Billy told us he has not seen this much snow in all the 30 plus years he has called Sun Valley his home.
Sun Valley is part of the Mountain Collective.
My friend Sharon is a snow bird and leaves our beloved New Hampshire for the sunny golf courses and beaches of Florida. Sharon is an awesome skier and loves to ski. In her college days she was a ski instructor at the upside down mountain King Ridge (now a Lost NH skier area in New London).
Sharon had never skied Sun Valley. After Billy’s intel we got a good idea!
Sharon and I both were game to go and talking Charlie into coming along was easy. We met at the Avis car rental at the Salt Lake City airport and we were on our way by 11:30 in the morning.
The drive from Salt Lake was 5 hours. We lucked out with good weather and the posted 80 mph speed limit seemed rather reasonable with the straight pavement ahead of us as far as our eye could see.
As we entered Ketchum we could see Baldy’s slopes rising up from the River Run base. The snow banks were high and it snowed the day before we arrived.
Sharon stayed at the iconic Sun Valley Lodge and Charlie and I stayed with his brother a few miles away. We went out for a light supper but Billy wasn’t able to join us because he was busy with his new job as an Uber driver.
In the morning Charlie drove and dropped us off at the River Run base lodge. The lodge is absolutely magnificent with large log beams, wide open spaces and large crystal chandeliers that hang from the high ceilings. The staff is courteous and attentive—in fact when we asked an employee where the bathrooms were she insisted to show us the way. Even the wood panel door cubbies to store our boot bags were lovely.
Lift tickets at Sun Valley are over a hundred dollars a day if you buy them at the window. Yikes! Happily we were armed with our Mountain Collective Pass!
We hit the snow big time at Whistler. On our day at Stowe we arrived to find 3 to 5 inches of sneaky snow—snow that was not predicted in the weather forecast. Now, at Sun Valley we hit the jackpot again! The snow was fresh and the skies were blue and we were the luckiest skiers in the world.
The high temperature for both days was 15 degrees. The snowstorm delayed some flights at the airport, the locals thought it was cold and we were skiing mid-week—a perfect storm for no lift lines and near empty trails
We were among the first in line to ride the Roundhouse Gondola and then we slipped onto the Christmas high-speed quad to the summit. On top of Bald Mountain, elevation 9,150 feet, we had a big panorama including the snow capped sharp Saw Tooth Mountains.
We took a warm-up run on College, a long groomed run all the way back to the River Run Lodge, a 3,400 foot vertical drop. The squeaky snow made for soft turning fun.
For two days the snow stayed soft, the temperature stayed cold and the sun shined on us.
We had great days together on the slopes and in the bowls. On Seattle Ridge we skied Gretchen’s Gold, Muffy’s Medals and Christine’s Silver. Off the top of Bald Mountain’s ridge we skied Kaitlyn’s Bowl and near Warm Springs we skied Picabo’s Street. Yes, all these trails are named after the resort’s own Olympic Medalists.
Each of the lodges offer different food. We learned this too late to plan our meals. I did eat a giant Idaho baked potato with all the fixings and Sharon had a super deli sandwich on top of Seattle Ridge. While having coffee at the summit Lookout Lodge we took note that this little lodge specialized in Mexican Food.
The skiing could not have been better and the miles and miles of trails and bowls are so much that it wasn’t possible for us to find and ski every trail. But we did try!
The long continuous Warms Springs Trail has to be one of the best trails top to bottom and then we found the steeper Limelight!
Meanwhile, Charlie was having fun on the cross country ski trails. He skied the Wood River Trail along the Wood River from Ketchum to Hailey and back. He also spent a day up at Galena Lodge. We were a couple weeks too early to race in the Boulder Mountain Tour—a XC ski race from Galena Lodge to Ketchum.
Two days passed too quickly. But we made the most of it and were too tired to ski more, almost making it until the lifts closed both days.
Apres ski we swam in the outdoor heated 102 degree swimming pool at the Sun Valley Lodge, went window shopping and had supper at some nice downtown Ketchum restaurants.
Our second night Billy took us to the most popular restaurant on Main Street, The Pioneer Saloon. Decorated with stuffed local game trophies, old firearms and a long ago prospector’s fur coat this place is the real deal western saloon. The prime rib is famous.
On our last morning we all enjoyed a big breakfast at the Kneadery, which claims to feature the finest in Rocky Mountain rustic home style cooking. Sharon, Charlie and I all ordered the 2, 2, 2—two eggs, two French toast and two sausages. Good thing Billy showed up late since our breakfasts were also Too-much. Billy asked for an empty plate and we easily filled it for him. Charlie confessed with a big smile on his face that he had eaten breakfast here the previous two days.
The ride back to Salt Lake was uneventful and went by rather quickly since we all had great stories to tell.
Onwards to Alta and Snowbird to use two more days of our ski pass! Yes we did and we sure had fun hitting the jackpot again.
How’d we do it? We flew out early on Tuesday morning from Boston and returned the red-eye on Sunday night and made it back to work before 10 am on Monday. We missed 4 days of work total and I didn’t miss a night of ski racing at Pats Peak.
Amy Patenaude is an avid skier/outdoor enthusiast from Henniker, N.H. Readers are welcome to send comments or suggestions to her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
At 6 am in the Lincoln Woods parking lot the car’s thermometer read 1 degree. The moonlight was still bright so we left our headlamps in our backpacks and we put on our snowshoes. I followed Jeremy across the suspension bridge and down the Lincoln Woods Trail.
Our snowshoes loudly crunched each step as our snowshoes crampons bit into the hard uneven and rough snow. Footprints, post-holes and ski tracks were frozen in place and our snowshoes kept us from turning our ankles.
We didn’t talk since the crunching noise made it impossible to hear the other speak. The moon lit the way well but it was black when we passed through shadows.
I just kept following the silent dark figure in front of me.
Just before reaching the wilderness boundary Jeremy stopped to point out that our shadows had switched sides. Our faint shadows were no longer produced by the waning moon but now from the rising sun.
Once we reached the Bondcliff Trail the snow track was smoother due to the fact that most travelers out this far used snowshoes when the snow was soft and wet. Sometimes we could see fresh tracks made by micro-spikes and we guessed there might be a few people ahead of us.
Just before the trail gets steep we caught up to a small group with State Senator Jeb Bradley in the lead. We said quick hellos to our friends and shook a few hands as we continued on our way.
I love the long switch back up to Bondcliff, the gradual grade makes for comfortable climbing and I try not to act surprised to reach its end at the big step. After scrambling up and over the near vertical rock ledge the short way to the top is all above tree line.
Bondcliff’s windblown summit and ridge was mostly bare rock and ice. Our snowshoes really made a clatter on the rocks. The sky was free of clouds, the sun was shining and only a breath of wind was in the cold air. We slowed our pace and soaked up the grand vista and took a few photos. Loon Mountain’s ski trails were the only prominent evidence of man we could see over all the mountaintops for all the hundreds of miles around us. I felt like I could see forever. The stark winter beauty of the mountains was in full glory, Mount Washington shined big and bright way out there over the east side of Bond.
I don’t know if Jeremy thought about him because we didn’t speak of it. I know I was sad to think of the young man that had perished here alone on Christmas Eve.
We continued across, tagging the highest point and making our way down towards Bond. There was more snow and a hard cornice had formed on the ridge. (The wind blows harder between the peaks.) As we began to climb up Bond we joked that this was like climbing up Pats Peak. I have a habit of measuring mountains by figuring out how many Pats Peaks there are to climb.
On top of Bond we spun around and continued to soak up the wintery scene. I scampered up a higher ridge of snow between some stubby spruce trees. I looked down far into the valley. After I had moved away Jeremy climbed up too and on his return—WHOOSH! He had disappeared deep into the snow, falling down into a spruce trap and only his head and shoulders were sticking out of the snow. I couldn’t help myself from laughing as I watched him untangle his snowshoes and climb out. I was lucky it wasn’t me because I had walked right over that very same spot.
I started down first, I was feeling a little chilly from our brief summit break, but it wasn’t long before Jeremy caught up and I let him by. We heard the crunch of snowshoes before we met a gal who was staying at the Zealand Hut making her way to Bond.
At the spur trail to West Bond we dumped our packs and I tied my down coat around my waist and we scooted the half mile to the summit. From the summit we could see our friends making their way towards Bond. After a couple minutes we scooted back.
We’d been on the trail just over five hours. We agreed not wearing our packs felt like taking a vacation. Our winter packs are much heavier than our summer packs. We both carry a lot of extra warm clothing and more” just in case” items. Before shouldering our packs again we decided to eat.
Jeremy pulled out a single serving size apple pie and proved he could easily win a pie eating contest. I munched up some yummy oatmeal cookies that my mother had made for me. I put my orange inside my coat to warm it up so I could eat it on the way up Guyot. Jeremy is a Gatorade fan and I drink Powerade.
I slowed to peel my orange and I should have stopped since I walked into a tree limb and scratched my face. You’d think I’d learn.
Guyot is a windswept open peak that reminds me of Moosilauke. Again we kept our snowshoes on and clattered over rocks and ice as we went up and over its bumps. The trail back in the trees on Guyot’s north slope was covered with deep snow where a previous snowshoer’s deep tracks were now frozen solid in place and then other places the trail was covered with deep drifts.
When we reached the spur to Zealand’s summit we again dumped our packs. I grabbed my thermos and drank its hot contents as I strolled along the nearly flat path to the flat wooded summit. How delicious my mixture of hot milk, hot chocolate and coffee warmed me. Jeremy wrestled with a blowdown and successfully removed it from the path.
As we popped out we heard the crunching of her snowshoes before we saw her again. As we finished up our snacks we chatted with her about whether she was going to bother to visit the viewless Zealand summit. I said at least there is a nice sign when you get to the end of the path. She went.
The descent to Zealand Hut feels long and steep because it is. The ladder above Zeacliff Pond was icy and difficult but the snow around made it possible to get down. The trail from there was all hard pack snow. The water crossings were easy to cross on ice and snow bridges.
We didn’t stop at the hut, we were on a roll. A man smoking a cigarette on the deck did ask us where we came from and Jeremy replied, “Lincoln”.
Oh bother, from the hut to the parking lot at the end of Zealand Road on Route 302 is over 5 miles and there was maybe four or five hard packed inches of snow and ice. The snow was beat up rough from lots of hiker traffic to the hut.
We passed a couple of cross country skiers who had struggled their way up the road and had given up trying to ski up the trail. When we reached the road we took off our snowshoes and walked the road.
Our boots were quiet on the thin snow and ice and for the first time all day we were able to speak to one another as we went along. Chatting about the day and our future skiing plans made the dreaded road walk time fly by.
My car was right where Charlie and I dropped it off the night before at the Zealand winter lot, parked near the sign that read “Don’t walk in ski tracks”. That’s good advice.
Ten hours, a fast Bond Traverse in my book and my feet were only a little sore and I was really hungry.
Last night as we drove by the lit up slopes of Whaleback, I asked Sharon if she wanted to stop and ski some more and we both laughed. We were on our way home from a fantastic day of skiing at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont and we were toast. There wasn’t another run left in our legs.
Since the New Year began I have been working hard to keep my New Year’s resolution—making it a fun winter. I picked a resolution that is easy for me to want to keep because I love winter.
Our day started early, driving in the dark to reach the resort before the lifts started spinning. We picked up our friend, Amy, in West Lebanon and we zoomed up I-89.
Mid-week skiing is great because the slopes are uncrowded, but this Thursday was even better because there was 3 to 5 inches of “sneaky snow” waiting for us on the slopes. Sneaky snow is snow that mountains produce in the middle of the night and was not predicted in the weather forecast.
The three of us happily pounced on Spruce Mountain and made first tracks on Upper Sterling. The day was cloudy but it improved during the day. After five runs on Spruce we headed over to the Four Runner quad lift just above the Mansfield Lodge.
Nose Dive, Hayride and Lord had good snow and they were making more snow on some of the other trails. People were in and out of the glades but we stayed on the trails. Seriously, we hit the jackpot for snow conditions.
We didn’t quite make it until closing; at 3 o’clock we decided we’d had our fill. Especially after Amy and I decided to bounce and be tossed by Chin Clip’s moguls for our last run of the day.
But I was tempted to stop in for a little night skiing at Whaleback. I am lucky my friends have more sense than I do.
On Wednesday afternoon Charlie and I volunteered to teach cross country ski lessons at the Eastman Cross Country Center in Grantham, it is just a short ways from I-89 exit 13.
After last year’s nearly snowless winter these youngsters were fired up. This was their first lesson of the season for the students from Grantham. Skis, boots and poles were flying out the door in the arms of the kids.
The pent-up energy exploded and there was no slowing them down. They were kicking and gliding, double poling and laughing as they lead us to where they wanted to ski. On a groomed track we went up one snow covered fairway and down another making a big loop.
We worked on edging and turning by practicing tip and tail star turns—spinning around in place making a star design in the snow. We went up and down a small hill a dozen times practicing edging, snowplowing and turning.
After almost an hour and half outside our focus turned back to the cross-country center where everyone knew hot chocolate would be served to all.
We bet the students will be as eager to return next Wednesday as Charlie and I are for their next lesson.
Becca and I met at Tenney Mountain ski area. It isn’t exactly open yet, but there were ski and snowboard tracks marking up the snow on the trails above the parking area.
On this late Sunday afternoon, I put my skins on my skis and Becca put her skins on her split-snowboard. We clicked into our equipment and started up the well-used uphill track to the summit. We shuffled our way up and enjoyed the grand vista. Tenney has a big wide view from the Southeast to the North. The view of Mount Moosilauke is grand! The Franconia Ridge, Tecumseh and Sandwich Mountain feel close.
I recalled liking skiing here over the years.
As we neared the top of the chairlift we could hear the whop, whop, whop sounds made by the wind turbines on the ridge. On the top we had a good view of the spinning blades.
We ripped off our skins and readied ourselves for a fun glide back down to our cars. I attempted to take my skins off while my skis were still attached to my feet but I didn’t succeed—I’ll keep trying, I’ve done it before.
Oh what fun it is to glide through soft fresh snow. We didn’t make first tracks that afternoon, but I am sure we were the last to make tracks as the sun set.
From an old trail map we learned we skied the trails named Morning Glory and Roller Coaster. I hope we can do this again soon. I hope Mother Nature keeps being generous with the snow.
The snowshoeing in our White Mountains has been excellent with all the snow. My friends are summiting many of the 4,000-footers and some are off to a good start for completing the AMC 4k list in a single winter. Last week I visited the summits of Mount Jackson and the Osceola Peaks.
Oh yeah my team returned to Pats Peak on Monday night for the first of many fun nights of racing this winter. There is a good chance you can still join the league at your favorite ski area, some teams need to fill some slots.
Thanks for reading this! I have to go outside, Have Fun.
Sometimes I just don’t know where the time goes, but I am convinced that winter is too short. There are just too many fun things to do when the weather is cold and snowy. I want to ski every day, snowshoe up mountains every day and try new things every day.
The New Year is about to begin and the ski areas and Nordic centers have already been open for many weeks. Have you made your New Year’s Resolution yet? Why not make your resolution to make your winter fun! Choose to do something you love or choose to try something new.
Here are a few suggestions of easy to keep-make your winter fun New Year Resolutions:
Just Do It More
Ski or snowboard—resolve to do it more! Buy a season pass, join an adult race league team and/or plan a weekend of skiing and riding at a “new to you” resort. Ski New Hampshire has 33 alpine and Nordic member resorts. Have you been to all of them yet? Visit SkiNH.com.
Do It Better
If you ski or snowboard do it better. Get coached, take a lesson. The world’s best giant slalom racers and cross-country ski sprinters work hard to improve their technique by spending hours working with their coaches and practicing. You can be coached too. Snowsports professionals at your local ski area offer lessons and programs for everyone from novices to experts.
Gunstock has adult ski race training in January on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Waterville Valley’s Adventure Center Nordic Women’s Ski Group meets on Mondays and Fridays—try performance cross-country equipment and ski with a top instructor. Check out what the resorts have to offer, I bet you’ll find something that’s perfect for you.
Cold nights and sunny days make for great fun on the slopes. Winter doesn’t officially begin until December 21st, but it certainly looks and feels like winter is already here.
Cannon Mountain has been blasting snow on their slopes like never before! Just a quick glance at the mountain while driving through Franconia Notch and you’ll see the trails Zoomer, Rocket and Gary’s are sporting big fluffy white coats.
I met Becca at the Peabody Lodge. We were in our gear and waiting in lift line 15 minutes before the chairlift was scheduled to open. We could see the ski patrol were already riding up the lift. There were less than a dozen other eager skiers and snowboarders waiting ahead of us and many more gathered behind us.
I don’t think my watch was wrong but they dropped the rope and started loading the chairs five minutes early. What a treat!
Cannon Mountain made 5 million dollars of improvements to their snowmaking system and have increased their snowmaking capacity by 50%. 400 new high-efficiency tower guns and 40 new land guns have been installed and these snowguns require less energy to produce more snow. They’re estimating that only half as much energy will be required to make snow with the new equipment.
This is good news for Cannon skiers and riders because as the temperatures continue to stay cold more trails will open fast.
Becca and I shared our first ride up the mountain with a women that skis nearly every day at Cannon. We were all excited about the couple of inches of new snow that fell the night before and smoothly blanketed the groomed man-made snow. We would be making fine first tracks.
Ha! I didn’t like waiting for Becca to snap her boot into her snowboard’s binding because people would be getting after the fresh snow before me. Three people skied by me and that’s all it took. I told her I’d meet her at the Zoomer lift and I took off. Continue reading → Post ID 2901