• Category Archives On The Trails & Summits
  • 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.


  • Never Too Cold To Play!

    Plenty of smiles and frosty faces to be found while cross-country skiing at the Bretton Woods. Charlie and yours truly at the warming cabin on the cross-country ski trail Porcupine Lane.

    By Amy PatenaudeSki/Outdoor Writer

    “There’s no bad weather, only bad clothes.”
    I’ve heard this said many times by people that like to play outdoors. I’ve said it to friends too, but this cold and snowy weather has been challenging.
    This week I wore all or a combination of these articles of clothing: face mask, baklava, neck gaiter, goggles, ear-band, hat, turtleneck, fleece sweater, down coat, windproof shell, long underwear, insulated pants, wool socks, insulated boots, insulated mittens and chemical hand warmers.
    I went skiing and snowshoeing. I stayed warm. No frostbite or cold toes for me. I adjusted the layers I wore to make sure I didn’t sweat while moving and added layers when I cooled down. And I went inside before I got cold.

    When the temperature is well below zero and you still want to ski from the summit to the base riding Cannon Mountain’s Tramway is the way to go. Snow conditions have never been better. Cannon Mountain lift tickets are 2-for-$77 on Tuesdays & Thursdays and NH Residents with NH ID $25-Wednesdays.

    At the beginning of the cold snap I skied in lovely falling snow at Pats Peak and their new lift to the top is fast and the loading carpet is fun. My team races in the adult league on Monday nights!
    More snow fell and then the mercury nearly fell out of the bottom of the thermometer. -10, -20 and on the mountaintops -30 F degrees was reached. YIKES! What a week.
    It wasn’t too cold to play and play on the snow we did!
    On Christmas day it was chilly but it was snowing. I met my friends at Mount Sunapee and we arrived just before for the lifts opened. We started out on the North Peak Triple chair while the majority of people were in line at the Sunapee Express lift to the summit. We felt like we were sneaking our fresh tracks for three runs in a row on Flying Goose. We delighted in finding untracked powder during each run.

    Jay blasting through the fresh powder snow at Mount Sunapee. The snow conditions are excellent. Thank you Mother Nature for all the snow but please turn up the thermostat!

    We then spent our time in the Sun Bowl. Although there wasn’t much sun there was lots of fluffy new snow to make us happy. Lapping Skyway and Wingding was great fun. The cold temperature kept the snow light and fluffy.
    This was the busiest Christmas morning I can remember and certainly the fresh powder snow encouraged many to get out early.
    The next day my friend Bria and I met in Lincoln to attempt to snowshoe Mount Hancock. We didn’t have an early start in hopes that the temperature would rise into positive digits. At the hairpin turn on the Kanc Highway we arrived to discover that the parking area was not plowed (Yes I wrote an email to the US Forest Service!). I had a shovel in my car and we cleared just enough to allow me to park my car in the entrance of the lot. We jealously watched a jeep blow right through the snowbank and into the lot. These were two more snowshoers starting off after 10 am with us.
    Long story short, Bria and I didn’t summit both peaks.

    Yours truly and Bria O’Neil snowshoe stomping up the trail to Mount Hancock. The snow covered trees did their best to hide the trail.

    All four of us summited North Hancock but we had difficultly on the ridge towards Hancock’s South Peak. We were in the clouds, snow blanketed trees hid the trail and we were moving slowly. All of us decided to turn around.
    We descended North Hancock following our snowshoe track and it began to snow hard.
    Bria and I decided to head straight back so we’d get out well before dark.
    The other pair separated with one taking off to run up South Peak from the bottom of the south loop and leaving the other behind.
    Bria and I stuck together. We were warm and happy and planned to come back another day, maybe on a clear winter day. The worst part was the drive back on the Kanc to Lincoln, it was a near white-out and the road was covered by several slippery inches of snow.
    Charlie and I went cross-country skiing at Bretton Woods and on the Franconia Inn’s trails. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are great activities when wind-chill is a serious factor. These slower paced sports in the woods where the trees hamper the wind make for a comfortable outing on the coldest of days.
    At Bretton Woods the tremendous Mount Washington Hotel deflected the wind as we crossed the snow covered golf course to reach the woods. The temperature was only -7F but there were many people out kicking and gliding and skating. People were even taking lessons.
    I can’t say enough about the snow conditions. The trails were perfectly snow carpeted, groomed and edged with magical snow-frosted trees.
    While skiing on the Franconia Inn’s trails I detoured off the Ham Branch Loop and headed up the Coppermine Brook Trail to Bridal Veil frozen Falls. I was quite comfortable and the packed powder trail had been well broken out by snowshoers. I made good time to reach the end of the trail at the Falls. The wall of icicles on both sides of the ice flow covered water were prettier than Christmas lights.
    Returning down the Coppermine Trail I enjoyed the 2.5 mile long downhill back home. I met four other snowshoers out on the trail too.
    Here’s a surprise, I also enjoyed a warm rest day. I stayed home and read a book and we went to see the new Star Wars movie. “May the Force be with you” and keep you warm.

    Under the lights, Becca Snowboarder floating on the powder on Pats Peak’s Hurricane Trail.

    I skied Cannon Mountain when it was a real -22F at the summit and the wind was nipping my nose through my baklava and fleece neck gaiter. Packed Powder is the word. Again I can’t say enough how perfect the snow conditions are out there!
    Cannon’s Zoomer chair has more protection from the wind and Zoomer and Avalanche Trails were super-duper. I took the Tram but I wasn’t crazy enough to ride the Cannonball Quad to the summit but many people seemed happy to do it. The most runs I could make in a row was three and then I would go inside to take a break. I like my nose and wanted to keep it.
    Oh and what about that full moon! I ended my holiday week where it began at Pats Peak. I went night skiing and from the top of the mountain the rising moon looked big and bright. 100% of their trails are open and the Hurricane was a smooth packed powder dream.
    Don’t let the cold keep you inside.
    Have Fun!


  • A Wintry Day At Loon Mountain

    Family members’ old season passes make lovely Christmas tree ornaments. My friend confesses that she copied the idea from another friend and I am going to copy her fine idea too!

    Snow, it snows!
    Every skier and snowboarder unloading their gear in Loon Mountain’s parking lot was happy.
    Light white flakes of snow fell from the sky all day and landed on top of the good snow base that was already established by Loon’s top notch team of snow makers and more snow direct from Mother Nature. Nearly every trail was open with the exception of South Peak, but South Peak is open now. (It opened the next day.)
    Mid-week the lifts open at 9 am and we were skating up to the lift corral at 9:02. Our tickets were scanned and we moved on to grab a seat on the Kancamagus-Quad, aka Kanc-Quad. I really appreciate high-speed lifts. Just think about all those poor children that didn’t get the chance to ride a long slow lift (or dial a rotary phone). Less time on the lift is more time on the snow. I can get a great morning of skiing in and feel like I skied a full day’s worth and that was just what I did.

    Walking Boss on Loon’s North Peak. Logging term-walking boss- supervisor of logging crews often walking between camps. Loon’s founder, Governor Adams, was a walking boss for the logging company Parker-Young.
    This old logging train greets you at the entrance of Loon Mountain. The resort’s three peaks are located just south of the Pemigewasset Wilderness where J.E. Henry’s railroads carried out timber to the sawmills in Lincoln up until 1948. The East Branch & Lincoln Railroad was the largest logging railroad in New England covering about 72 miles according to LoggingInLincoln.com.

    We skied directly over to the North Peak and speedily yo-yo’d up and down the black diamond trails of North Peak and the East Basin. The snow conditions were terrific and we were able to make big easy turns on Walking Boss and Flume. Moguls are forming on the side of Lower Flume but those weren’t in our plan. Our goal was to ski as many of the more difficult trails until our friends that stick to the Blue Squares showed up.
    From the North Peak summit we accessed the East Basin’s trails via Sunset and down Angel Street to Basin Street that was pure heaven. Steep and deep as anything in the East and conditions that were just getting nicer with the falling snow made the skiing excitingly fast and fun. We hit these trails several times.
    The East Basin Trails are my favorite, they’re steep and narrower, old school style. Loon Mountain first opened 51 years ago in December 1966 and this part of the mountain was at first considered too steep to ski. But just two years later, in 1968, trails were opened here and serviced with its own East Basin double-chair.

    Enjoying the snowy day on Ox Bow at Loon Mountain. The trail names are related to area’s logging history.

    Loon has changed a lot since it was first founded by Dartmouth Outing Club President-Logger- NH Governor Sherman Adams. The first high-speed detachable quad was installed in 1995—the Kancamagus Quad. Loon’s North Peak opened in 1984 and South Peak opened in 2007. You can learn more about Loon’s interesting history at NewEnglandSkiHistory.com.
    From the bottom of the North Peak we made our way back over to the Governor Adams Lodge to meet our friends. We skied down the gentle and twisty Brookway Trail to the base of the gondola. On the gondola we checked our cellphone and learned our friends were waiting for us at the lift.
    This meant just one more steep and fast run for us! Speakeasy, Rumrunner and the orange netted lined-race trail-Coolidge Street back to the Kanc-Quad.
    For the next hour we had more relaxed fun skiing with our friends. We skied the blue square trails Lower Picked Rock and Blue Ox riding the Kanc-Quad. We even rode the gondola to the summit of Loon Peak and followed the green circle route back down to Lower Picked Rock.

    On a bluebird day earlier this season, a lone skier on the fittingly named Coolidge Street Trail at Loon Mountain. The big mountain front and center is Big Coolidge Mountain and the pointy peaks of the Franconia Range can be seen further in the distance.

    Loon truly has terrain for all abilities to enjoy and terrain that all abilities can enjoy together.
    At lunch time I had to call it a day so I could get to work for the other half of the day. But before I left we enjoyed cups of hot chocolate and good ski area comfort food—chicken tenders and fries in the Governor Adams Lodge.
    The plow trucks were out and my drive to work was slow. Of course, at the end of the day when the lifts closed, my friends sent me messages telling me that the snow just kept getting better. They tried to make me jealous but they couldn’t do it.
    I had had a great ski day!

    New Year’s Eve!
    If you’re in search of New Year’s Eve celebrations look no further than your local ski resort. Fireworks, food, dancing and night skiing are some of the fun activities planned to ring in the New Year. Happy New Year to You and best wishes for a FUN Year!


  • Ski and Snowboard Fun at Waterville & Cannon

    Becca Snowboarder headed down Cannon Mountain’s Middle Ravine Trail. Cannon Mountain’s snow making improvements have produced a lot of white stuff! That’s the Peabody Lodge down below and behind it is the round bare top of Bald Mountain west of Artist’s Bluff.

    -NH Slopes Are Wide Open!

    By Amy PatenaudeSki/Outdoor Writer

    Skiing and Snowboarding with friends and family is a wonderful way to enjoy season. Time spent together on chairlifts and enjoying the snow blanketed trails will make a lifetime of lasting memories.
    If you don’t know how to ski or snowboard please sign-up for a program at your local resort. They want you to learn and they offer affordable and enticing offers including everything you need—rental equipment, lift ticket and lessons. Check out SkiNH.com Learn to Ski/Ride Deals. If that still doesn’t appeal to you than you can always have fun snow-tubing.

    New Hampshire resorts have been blowing snow, grooming it out and spinning their lifts since Thanksgiving. After every cold night of snow making more trails open. I am betting by Christmas resorts will be boasting near 100% coverage. I hope Mother Nature kicks in more snow soon too.

    On top of the world at Waterville Valley! Visit online Waterville.com and SkiNH.com for current ski and snowboard conditions

    Last Thursday morning I met up with a friend for a couple of hours of skiing at Waterville Valley. We arrived at the lodge early so we would be ready to ride the first chair when the lifts opened.
    At the ticket booth we presented our lift ticket vouchers, purchased on-line the previous day. Pre-buying your lift ticket ahead of time at the resort’s website can save you money. Additionally we had to pay $5 for the new RFID pass. If we returned the card at the end of the day our $5 would be returned but if we chose to keep it we can reload them on-line and avoid the ticket booth our next visit.

    Look at that nice snow! Waterville Valley Resort’s White Caps Trail has a splendid big view of nearby Mount Osceola! New this season at Waterville Valley is the improved New Learner’s Area with two new carpet lifts replacing the original J-bar.
    Skiing with friends is fun! Learning to ski better makes it more fun. Yours truly, Barb and Bria on the trails at Bretton Woods working on our turns.

    Waterville Valley (as well as Mount Sunapee and Gunstock) installed new RFID lift ticket systems. Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags (lift ticket) that are attached to objects (Snowsport enthusiasts). All we had to do was pop the card in our jacket pocket and the reader would find it.
    I have had experience using these types of lift tickets before at large resorts out West and at Stowe, VT, where the lift line passes through a gate that is opened when a valid card is read. Waterville’s system is different because it has a gateless entry. The cards appear to be read while we were on the chairlift and those attempting theft of services will be apprehended at the top of the lift. The advantages are that the lift line moves smoothly, monitoring of tickets is continuous and poachers are going to get caught.
    The trails were covered with great snow and it was easy to turn my skis on the freshly groomed loose granular snow. The day was lovely with clear views to all the mountains near and those far away. The Waterville Academy set up a slalom course on one side of Tommy’s World Cup Run but we had plenty of room to enjoy the trail too.
    We skied non-stop for just over two hours and completed 10 runs off the White Peaks Express quad-chair. I confess I was ready to take a break after 7 runs but with our limited time I was convinced to keep skiing. I still dreamed of having a hot chocolate in the mountain top Schwendi Hutte.
    When our time was up we hustled into the lodge to grab an early lunch in the cafeteria before packing up and heading to work. We ate ski area comfort food at its finest, fries, chicken tenders and hot chocolate! It was yummy. But I will go back later this season and get my hot chocolate in the Hutte.

    Mount Lafayette on the other side of Franconia Notch and a Cannon Mountain skier near the top of Avalanche. Snowsports are alive and well in New Hampshire and the season is off to a great start.

    On Saturday, I met Becca Snowboarder at Cannon Mountain. At 7:45am I pulled into the parking lot and ended up parking right next to her, talk about good timing. Becca bought a season pass earlier this season at the best NH resident discounted price. I bet she doesn’t miss any Saturday mornings.
    The previous year’s five-million dollars investment at Cannon Mountain for snowmaking improvements continues to reap benefits. The mountain is able to make twice as much snow with half the energy and this season an additional 250 thousand dollars were made for snowmaking upgrades. Cannon’s investment and increased efforts to make snow are really obvious and have produced super results! On their opening day the summit was open; Cannon made snow for runs from top to bottom.
    Cannon and Franconia Notch had a nice gift of 2 to 5 inches of fluffy white snow earlier in the week. The Notch’s nearby peaks had frosted white tops but the floor of the notch had some snow too. While we were at the ski area, my husband Charlie took out his most beat up pair of cross country skis and was able to kick and glide on the bicycle path from the Tram to the Lafayette Place Campground. It wasn’t ideal but he had fun.
    Becca and I joined the lift line with all the other excited skiers and snowboarders. Cannon has a well-earned reputation for having one of the larger first run seeking crowds.
    We rode the Peabody Express quad-chair round and round while most zoomed right over to ride the Cannonball to the summit. The dramatic views of Mount Lafayette and the Franconia Range were outstanding while we had By-Pass to Cannon Trails nearly all to ourselves for several runs in a row. You could have fooled me this wasn’t mid-winter.
    Good snow and lots of trails made for a fun time. Being on the summit of Cannon is always nice and Tramway and Upper Cannon Trails were covered with snow edge to edge. Rocket and Gary’s were open too and snow guns were blasting on other trails.
    The season is off to a good start and it is just going to keep getting better. Don’t forget to get your team together for your favorite adult race league! Sign-ups are happening now and if you can’t find a team contact the race program and they’ll help you find some teammates.
    I am all set to race Monday nights at Pats Peak.
    Whoohoo winter!
    Have fun.


  • First Runs at Bretton Woods

    Yours truly and Becca Munroe enjoying the snow on the Range View Trail at Bretton Woods’ opening day. Brettton Woods was the first resort in New Hampshire to open for skiing and snowboarding this season.

    By Amy PatenaudeSki/Outdoor Writer

    A couple weeks ago I made it up for Bretton Woods’ opening day to ski. Bretton Woods enjoys a surprise and gives short notice when they’re opening for the season, usually just less than 24 hours.  As soon as they can get us on the mountain they do it.  When the temperature drops the snow guns start blasting and I know it is time to keep my eye on social media. I checked my email a little more often too.

    A young skier carves a turn on the snow. From Bretton Woods’ slopes big views of Mount Washington and the Presidential Range can be seen.
    Riding the lift at Bretton Woods.
    Donated food piled near the ticket window at Bretton Woods. Omni Hotels & Resorts “Say Goodnight to Hunger” program supports local food banks and pantries. Skiers and Snowboarders donated food and were given an opening day lift ticket at Bretton Woods.

    Since the temperatures dropped quickly, I wasn’t caught off guard this year when I saw their mid-afternoon Facebook post in bright big red letters “Open Tomorrow.” In my inbox there was an email from the resort that read, “Open Friday, November 10th from 1 -4 pm”.  The price of the lift ticket was a donation of non-perishable food. The annual opening day food drive is part of the Omni Resorts “Say Goodnight to Hunger” campaign that supports local food banks and pantries.

    I arrived at the ski area a little after 2pm.  By the look of the big pile of food next to the ticket booth the skiers and riders had been generous.  I stacked my cans on top of the others and with a lift ticket attached to my coat I hurried out to make my first run of the season.

    My friend Becca received my text that I had arrived. She beat me to the slopes and had taken one run on her snowboard and was now waiting for me in front of the lodge.  We rode up the Zephyr high-speed quad chair. Brrrh, it was cold out, only 16 degrees. We were both bundled up tight and we pulled our neck gaiters up high to protect our faces from the snow that was exploding out of the snow guns.  At the top I stood up from the chair and let gravity take me away from the lift—Weee I am skiing!  I joked, “What run should we take?” The punchline, “The open one!”

    All the snow guns were blasting adding more snow to the Range View Trail as we skied and snowboarded down the mountain.  To keep my goggles from icing I learned quickly to keep my face turned away from the snow guns.  Hands in front, shifting my weight from ski to ski, big turns and quick turns and I let gravity take me down the slope fast.  I stopped half way down the trail. I turned back up the hill and watched Becca turn her snowboard and slide down to meet me.  We both laughed and told each other how glad we were that we made it!   We both were excited to be out for the first time this season. I felt full of joy to be outside skiing on the snow. Yeah Winter.

    Becca on her snowboard heading down the Range View Trail while the snow guns of Bretton Woods blast more snow on the trail. Mount Deception is the mountain looming in the distance–it is named Deception because the 3,600’ mountain looks really near but it is deceptively far away.

    Mother Nature gave us a good inch of snow the previous night and the view down to red roofed Mount Washington Hotel was surrounded by its white golf course that was no longer green.   Bretton Woods stayed open for rest of the weekend and Veterans skied for free and there was a lift ticket special of just $25 to ski.

    I returned on Sunday and enjoyed the much warmer day, nearly 32 degrees, a beautifully groomed slope and a sunny mountain vista. No snow was being blown on Range View, it was covered edge to edge with deep wonderful snow. The snow guns were blasting all over the upper trails and more trails and lifts will be open. Congratulations to Bretton Woods for being the first resort to open in New Hampshire this season.

    More New Hampshire resorts are open this week. Loon, Cannon, Waterville Valley, Cranmore all announced plans to be open by the time you’re reading this.  Please check SkiNH.com for your favorite mountain’s snow conditions report before heading off to hit the slopes.   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.


  • Wet Waterville Valley Walking

    Yours truly in the wet foggy forest on the Snows Mountain Trail in Waterville Valley.

     

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    We met at the Dunkin’ Donuts in Campton just off of Interstate 93’s exit 49 because we had not decided where we were going to hike. Danielle and Amanda were already inside when I arrived. After grabbing a coffee and looking at the maps we made our decision. We’d drive to Snows Mountain in Waterville Valley and wing it from there.
    New Hampshire was hit hard by the Halloween tropical storm that dumped heavy rain and whipped the trees. Thousands lost power, flood damaged and closed roads and hiking trails were hit hard too. We didn’t know what we would find but we hoped by staying at lower elevations and away from raging brooks we’d increase the odds that the trails would be passable.

    Nothing to see here folks! Amanda and Danielle on the Snows Mountain lookout, misty rain, fog and clouds made it a day to look at the things that were near and not far away.

    From the base of Snows Mountain we headed up the Cascade Path and turned on the Elephant Rock Trail. The trail was covered with leaves and we tossed a lot of sticks and branches off the trail as we headed to the top of the Snow Mountain chairlift. Oh yeah, the rock, it doesn’t look like an elephant. The tree that made up its trunk is long gone.
    The clouds were thick and we didn’t see any mountain views only threatening skies all around us.
    We continued on the Greeley Ledge Trail and it was no great loss that it was cloudy since the ledge has no open vista. A three inch diameter tree at chest high was across the trial. I whipped out my folding saw and we made quick work of its removal.
    At the intersection of the Snows Mountain Trail we went left but when we looked right there was a mess of tangled trees blocking the trail. We’d deal with that later maybe.
    As we hiked higher into the fog the forest looked spooky. We made our way up to the spur path to its no-view-today view point. On our way down we did enjoy a blurry sight of the Waterville Town Square below through swirling clouds from a cut opening along the trail. The fog traded places off and on with light rain.
    We tossed sticks and limbs and cleaned out a water bar to help the water off the trail but we were happy to find the trail in decent condition.

    Danielle demonstrates she is willing to lend a hand with her folding saw! The Waterville Valley Athletic and Improvement Association (WVAIA), the outdoors club of Waterville Valley, maintains nearly 23 miles of trails in the White Mountain National Forest. The Association does a great work maintaining the trails and organizing activities. Please visit their website at WVAIA to learn more about their trails and the Association.

     

    Amanda and Danielle on the Yellow Jacket Trail. Pines Flats, Yellow Jacket and Tri-Town Trails make a nice loop for hiking. The trails are multi-use trails; hikers, mountain bikers and in the winter cross country skiers enjoy them too. Smarts Brook is lovely and short walk up the Pine Flats Trail will lead you to a lovely gorge.

    At this point the southern terminus of the Snows Mountain Trail dumps you out in the driveway of a private home. We walked up the road and went up the ski trail until we reached the large Forest Service sign for Snows Mountain Trail. Please note that no cars are to be parked in the private neighborhood, parking is at the base of Snows Mountain only.
    We headed up the trail through the forest and tossed more sticks and limbs until we reached the tangle mess we saw earlier near the trail intersection. We went to work with our folding saws, our tiny folding saws! These were big trees. We were able to cut and remove a couple trees and the branches until all that was left was a couple of easy step-overs. We retraced our way back to the ski trail.
    Since it was just misty rain we headed back up the Cascade Path and did a quick out and back on the Boulder Path. The giant boulder sitting in the middle of Slide Brook was surrounded by high fast flowing water. Danielle and Amanda would have to come back another day to get the short section of the trail on the other side from Livermore Road.
    There were a few big trees across the cross country ski trail where the trails overlap. But I am sure the Nordic Center is aware because we could see that they had been out clearing water bars on the trail.
    Back at the car we pulled out the map, the new map that accompanies the 30th edition of the AMC White Mountain Guide. We noticed the short trails near the beginning of the Smarts Brook Trail. I read the trail descriptions and the guide reported that there was a bridge crossing the brook so we could make a 3-mile loop and not drown.
    There were no other cars in the Smarts Brook Trail parking area but that was no surprise because of the wet weather forecast. It was mid-day, it was still misty rainy and we were still happy to be out walking.
    We headed up the Pine Flats Trail that leaves right from the parking area. This is a pine-rooty trail along Smarts Brook and it passes along a lovely deep ledgy gorge.
    We turned right on the Yellow Jacket Trail and it started to rain lightly and get darker. The trail was wetter and there were a handful of small bridges over small streams. The trail rejoined the bank of the roaring Smarts Brook. We were extremely happy to see that the storm had done no damage to the bridge that would take us over the brook and to the Smarts Brook Trail. We turned right and in a short distance we turned left on to the Tri-Town Trail.
    The light rain turned into a downpour. Danielle and I uselessly rushed to put on our rain jackets. Amanda didn’t. She left her wet coat back at the car and we decided the rain was her fault. That last mile felt like the longest mile of the day. Drenched we marched on and climbed over several rather large trees that will need a big chainsaw to be removed.

    A good view upstream at Smarts Brook between the trailheads of Pine Flats and Smarts Brook Trail, right on Route 49 in Thornton. Danielle takes her Tibetan prayer flags with her on every hike and she places them on a summit or a lovely place in remembrance of a hiking friend that left us too early. She returns the flags into the pocket of her backpack and shares the photo of the flags with family and friends.

    Tri-Town Trail -what three towns did this trail cross? We guessed Sandwich, Campton and Thornton. I knew the trailhead was in Thornton and maybe on the Pine Flats and or Yellow Jacket Trails we crossed into Waterville Valley. So were the three towns included Waterville Valley using the other trails? (I checked a map at home and it looks like the Tri-Town Trail is in Sandwich and Thornton only).
    The trail finished back on the Smarts Brooks Trail and at the end of the trail, on the edge of the highway bridge there is a nice view up the brook and up the highway across to Welch Mountain. We stood there a few minutes soaking in the view.
    Soon it will be snowing! 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.


  • Random Walks And Thoughts (Think Winter)

    Oktoberfest is fun! Charlie and Yours Truly with new friends at the Acadia’s Oktoberfest. October is behind us but you have one more chance to wear your Lederhosen or Dirndl at Pats Peak this Sunday for their annual Oktoberfest/Ski &Snowboard Sale.

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    By the end of October a year ago there was snow above 3000 feet. Winter hasn’t teased us yet and it has been easy enjoying this extended warm weather but I am looking forward to winter and to skiing.
    Last weekend Becca and I went out hiking to visit the officially abandoned Sugarloaf Mountain Trail (Benton Range). The old trail still sees some use by people that haven’t forgotten it. Long ago the trail was maintained by Camp Walt Whitman, according to my 1976 AMC White Mountain Guide.
    We easily followed the trail from the forest road but once we hit the ledges we quit the trail. Ladders or rock climbing gear would be necessary to be safe and that is most likely the reason this trail was abandoned. We bushwhacked along the base of the cliff to the south and we were able to wind our way up to the ridge between Sugarloaf and Hogsback. Our compass came in handy for making a beeline through the woods to the summit.

    Becca making her way along the base of Sugarloaf Mountain, Benton Range, upper ledges. Since we couldn’t climb straight up them we went around them to the south and wound our way to the summit.

    From the open ledges we enjoyed the big open views over to nearby mountains and afar–Black Mountain and the Kinsman and Franconia Ranges. Becca and I have been to the top of Sugarloaf before via more difficult bushwhacks.
    While enjoying the summit we took the time to look at an old map and we noticed a nearby peak marked with a ski lift. We decided once we got back down we would go check that out.
    The drive was short to the former Swiftwater Valley Ski Area on Whites Pinnacle in Haverhill. The ski lodge is still operational and a wedding reception was in full swing when we arrived. The lucky couple could not have asked for a nicer summer-like day. We walked way around the lodge and hiked up the mowed hillside and we checked out the defunct rope-tow that is decaying on side of the slope.

    We hiked up old ski trails to the summit of Whites Pinnacle in Haverhill, NH. Looking down the former Swiftwater Valley Ski Area’s old rope tow slope down to the Lodge. According to NewEnglandSkiHistory.com the ski area had a rope tow and a chairlift servicing 650 vertical feet. In 1978 the ski area was renamed to Monteau. The ski area opened December 1973 and it final season was the winter of ‘89-’90.

    Becca and I continued up a path straight up the mountain that was once the line of the small ski area’s double chairlift. Well it wasn’t that small it had 650 vertical feet of skiing.
    On the summit of Whites Pinnacle, elevation 1,470 feet there are a few relics of the former lift and one of the trails is still used for hiking. The old trail wound its way more gently down and we both think we should come back to ski and snowboard it sometime this winter.
    We decided our day shouldn’t be over yet so we drove over to Kinsman Notch and then towards Franconia to check out a little pond. From the road we whacked down to the pond and found a fisherman’s path along its edge. The water was low and there were a few salamanders swimming around near the shore. There also was a unique view of South Kinsman high above and across the water that made this unplanned outing well worth our small effort.
    We enjoyed our mostly unplanned and random day.

    From Sugarloaf Mountain, Benton Range, the views of the Kinsman and Franconia Ranges are an eye-filler. The tip-top of Mount Lafayette peeks up between North and South Kinsman Mountains. Foliage is past peak and soon these peaks will be frosty white.

    ***Ski areas have been putting out reminders that they’ll be open in a month. There is still time to buy your season pass for the ski/snowboard season at the best rates but time is running out. The SkiNH.com website has all the links to your favorite resorts and an events calendar.

    ***Saturday, November 4th – 6th Annual Simmer n ’Brewfest at Cannon Mountain. Gourmet soups galore from local chefs & eateries, brews from over 15 New England breweries and live music. For online tickets— www.cannonmt.com.

    ***Also on Saturday, November 4th is the Gunstock Ski Club Sale in Gunstock’s Main Lodge. New shop and used consignment equipment will be for sale. The sale helps support the Gunstock Ski Club youth ski racing program; more information at www.gunstockskiclub.com.

    ***Sunday, November 5th –Pats Peak Ski Team 47th Annual Ski & Snowboard Sale and the Pats Peak Oktoberfest in November. Two great events in one—King Ludwig’s Bavarian Band, German Food and Beer Garden, kids’ activities, woodsman show and sale of new & used ski and snowboard equipment and apparel. You can register your items for sale on-line; for more information visit www.patspeak.com.

    ***The 35th Boston.com Ski & Snowboard Expo is November 10-13th at Boston’s Seaport World Trade Center. This is the place to go to get excited about the upcoming winter snowsport season. Nearly every ski resort in New England is represented at the Expo along with many resorts from the Western United States and Canada. Ski and Snowboard manufactures will be showing off and selling their newest equipment. Super deals and giveaways are all part of the fun; for more information www.skisnowexpo.com.
    Think Snow and have fun.


  • The Games Hikers Play

    Charlie on the summit of Mount Abraham in Maine last weekend. Mount Abraham is ranked #10 of the 14 peaks in Maine that are over 4,000 feet. Vermont has 5 peaks and New Hampshire 48 and together they add up to 67 Mountains that are on the AMC New England 4,000 Footer list.

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    I know you don’t want to admit it but the days are getting shorter, the end is in sight and winter is fast approaching. Before it gets too cold and snowy hikers are out there trying to finish up their lists. Finishing all kinds of lists are the games hikers play.
    We are all still excited that the Golfing Gals finished the AMC’s 4,000 Footers Club list— summiting and returning from all New Hampshire’s 48 peaks with elevations greater than 4,000 feet. Sarah and Sharon already sent in their application for membership. They really do study every application. They received a question back from the reviewer asking exactly which Kinsman Peak did they finish on the list. Along with the inquiry was the comment that finishing on the North Kinsman was unusual.
    North Kinsman. Well, I confess I rarely led them up the easiest way but instead I attempted to choose the most wonderful and perhaps it may have been an unusual route.

    Big FINISH on West Plymouth Mountain! On October 1st Nancy and Charlie Foote of Glencliff finished the New Hampshire Highest 500 list. As part of the celebration all the finishers of the list present posed together for a photo–Yours Truly, Nancy & Charlie Foote, Bryan Cuddihee and Zachary Porter. Visit on-line at 48×12.com to learn about this list and more games hikers play.

    The following week I was present for another big finish of a less known peak bagging list. Nancy and Charlie Foote of Glencliff completed the New Hampshire Highest 500 list on West Plymouth Mountain. This is a trail-less tree covered bump just over 2,000 feet in elevation. To complete this list one must travel to peaks located in southern NH and peaks reaching all the way to the Canadian border and most don’t have trails. There is plenty of map and compass work to do and just figuring out where the peak is hiding is part of the challenge.

    Charlie Gunn, Henniker and Fran Leyman, Mt Desert, Maine near the summit of Gorham Mountain overlooking the Beehive. A couple years ago Fran made her own hiking game. Fran redlined, hiked every trail, in Acadia National Park. It might take Charlie and Yours Truly another twenty years to redline Acadia’s trails but with Fran’s help we just might do it.

    Nancy and Charlie invited friends to join them for the bushwhack to their finish peak. Friends included others that have completed the NHH500–Bryan Cuddihee, Zachary Porter and yours truly. We enjoyed the not so long walk in the woods together. Afterwards we celebrated and enjoyed a hotdog barbeque while we shared stories of our adventures.
    Oh there are many games hikers play. Some are well known and I know hikers that make up their own games.
    Around here the most popular is the AMC’s 4,000 Footer list. The reward is a simple embroidered path. Other 4k AMC patches can be earned for completing this feat in calendar winter. There is also a new patch for completing the list in each of the four seasons along with a requirement of doing trail maintenance.

    My first guide, the 1976, 21st edition and the brand new 30th edition AMC White Mountain Guide! For 110 years the Appalachian Mountain Club has been publishing the White Mountain Guide. The 30th edition is a boxed set with six pull-out topographic maps. This is a must-have guide! Compiled and edited by Steven D. Smith of Lincoln, NH, the guide and maps are thoroughly updated and revised. Red-liners will find trail descriptions for over 1,450 miles of trails and paths!

    The AMC also recognizes and awards a patch for the New England 4,000 Footer List—67 mountains in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine and another patch for the New England Hundred Highest.
    For more information visit on-line at amc4000footer.org or better yet get your hands on the new 30th edition of the AMC White Mountain Guide and all your questions will be answered in Appendix B.
    More games that New Hampshire hikers play are explained and a list of finishers for each challenge can be found at the website 48×12.com. The website is supported by Ed Hawkins and friends. Finishers of the lists found here may apply for recognition and received a special award patch.
    The website started by Gridders—people that have hiked every 4,000 footer in each and every month of the year—48×12 equals 576 summits. There are a handful that have completed the Grid more than once. Ed Hawkins and Tim Muskat are multiple finishers and have completed this feat an amazing 6 times.
    The 48×12.com website also provides information and tracks finishers for White Mountain Red-lining—hiking every trail and path in the White Mountain Guide, visiting proposed, past and present New Hampshire Fire Tower sites, hiking a 4k mountain on every calendar day, including leap day and more challenges.
    Another website tracks finishers of the 4,000 Footer list in a single winter, 48in1winter.com. Over 100 people that have completed this feat.
    I know two other hikers that share my passion of collecting town highpoints and sometimes town highpoints are found on the side of a hill on a town line and not on a summit. There are others out there collecting state highpoints. I have another friend that hikes to the highest summit of every country he visits and his most recent prize was collected in the Czech Republic.
    One thing that is true hikers love to hike and the only thing that limits the games hikers play are our imaginations.
    Congratulations to all those that finished their game this fall.
    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 Companions Tackle NH’s 4,000-Footers Together

    Where they started their journey 7 years ago. Columnist Amy Patenaude (left) and her ‘golfing gal friends’ Sharon (center) and Sarah on their first hike together in the Belknap Mountains Whiteface, Piper and Swett.

    The Last Two Peaks: Kinsman Mountain South & North

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    Seven years ago I can easily recall how this all started. My golfing gal friends, Sharon and Sarah thought it would be fun to hike with me. We did a hike together in the Belknap Mountains over Piper, Whiteface and Swett. They seemed to like climbing up and over rocks and they kept on hiking with me.
    We dropped Sharon’s car off at the Mount Kinsman Trailhead in Easton and then we drove a few minutes further south on Route 116 before taking a left up the Reel Brook Road to reach the Trailhead.
    This wasn’t the easiest way to hike South and North Kinsman but I assured them it was the most beautiful route and the extra miles of hiking would be well worth it.

    Sharon hauls herself up yet another steep pitch as she nears the summit of North Kinsman. South Kinsman looms in the distance a mile away.

    We shouldered our packs and headed up the trail. The trail follows old logging roads through the forest as it gradually climbs up to the Kinsman Ridge Trail. The trail adopter has taken good care of this trail and I felt badly that a big tree had fallen on the trail just above the powerline swath. The Reel Brook crossings were easily rock hop-able since the water was low. Even the usually wet flat section near the top of the trail was dry. We made good time.
    The Kinsman Ridge Trail is the Appalachian Trail and we followed the white blazed trail north. When we crossed the open powerline swath the morning fog and low clouds had not dried up. We could just barely see down to Bog Pond and no further.
    We descended to Eliza Brook and took the path to the campsite. The shelter is relatively new, built in 2010 to replace an old one. If we had come this way the first year they started hiking in the Whites we may have seen them piecing it together. We sat on the big log on the edge of the front of the open shelter and enjoyed a rest and a snack.
    The Nobos (north bound) AT hikers have already passed by this way and in fact if they hope to make it to Katahdin this season they better be well into Maine. We took the path back to the trail and sitting at the intersection was a round man with a large backpack. We chatted a few minutes and we learned he was headed south on a flip-flop AT hike. He started in Georgia and hiked to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia and then traveled to Kathadin, Maine and is now hiking back to Harper’s Ferry.
    I looked it up: Eliza Brook Shelter to Katahdin is 382 miles and Eliza Brook to the Harpers Ferry is about 780 miles.
    For most of the next mile the trail follows along the bank of Eliza Brook. The sound and sight of its cascading water is a delight to experience and helps make the rugged trail feel less rough. Here we ran into a speedy young man with a much smaller pack than the fellow we had just met. He was headed south from Kathadin too and he didn’t have spare time to talk.
    We crossed the brook and climbed. Soon we were near Harrington Pond, the trail was muddy and the bog bridges are either missing or underwater. I used my hiking pole to poke around to find them in a few places. The area of the pond was already in full fall scenery—the trees were colorful and the grasses had turned gold.

    The AMC White Mountain Guide (the new 30th edition is now available) notes that the section of trail between Harrington Pond and South Kinsman may require extra time. Yes it does! Here the trail is steep and ledgy and requires tricky scrambling. Sharon and Sarah discussed what trails had climbs as difficult as this one. As we were nearing the top two young gals flew by us and we exchanged cheery hellos as they left us behind.
    Once over the steep pitch the trail gradually climbed through scrubby trees to the open south knob of the South Peak. Here there is a big rock cairn. The map has a spot elevation on the north end of the summit but the cairn is on the south end. I guess it doesn’t really matter since we’d be going over to the north end on our way to the North Peak.
    The sun was hotter and the skies were mostly clear except the Franconia Range Mountains were hidden by white clouds.
    The mile between the two peaks went by quickly. Several times the phrase I can’t believe this is our last mountain on the list was spoken by Sarah and Sharon. I agreed with them. The scrambles up to the North Peak were much easier and shorter. We dropped our packs at the intersection of the path to the outlook and walked another minute up the trail where I showed them the actual North Kinsman highpoint—it’s the top of a pointy boulder on the east side of the trail. They reached up and touched it and whacked it with their hiking poles.
    Triumphantly we went back and down to the outlook. They stayed on the upper ledge while I climbed down to the lower ledge to get the view down to Kinsman Pond.
    We stayed here a good long time wishing the clouds would free up the vista of the nearby Franconia Ridge. Thankfully the view to Cannon Mountain was clear.
    To get back it was 4 miles of downhill and of course more scrambling over big rocks and ledges. But now we were on our way home and we would celebrate when we were really done back at the car. In less than a half of a mile we turned left off the Kinsman Ridge and onto the Mt Kinsman Trail.
    I don’t think we stopped once on the way down. We were slow and steady higher up and our pace quickened as the trail became more gradual down low. Below the Kendall Brook crossing there are new water bars and stone steps. We appreciate the hard work performed by the volunteer trail adopters.
    Hooray! We had hiked 11.5 miles through lovely forests, along cascading brooks and over open ledges and mountaintops and now they’ve stood on top of all 48 peaks on the NH 4,000 footer list.
    Sharon and Sarah posed beside the Mt Kinsman Trail sign holding a sign I had made for them and I snapped their photo. I am no artist but I did my best with colored pencils to draw an AMC 4000 footer patch for them.
    I asked them why they did it.
    “Because it was 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.