This time of year Mother Nature gives us many cold rainy days but she can deliver a nice warm sunny day to tease us while we wait for summer to arrive. Spring weather is fickle but at least the days are longer and we have time to go for a hike after work.
Right now south of the White Mountains is a good place to hike since there is still plenty of mud and snow on higher mountaintop trails.
The City of Concord has over 50 miles of trails (http://www.concordnh.gov/trails) and the 77 acre Marjory Park Swope Park has about two miles of trails over and around Jerry Hill with big outlooks and connections to more trails. The trailhead is easily reached from Route 202, just west of St. Paul’s School, 8/10th of a mile up Long Pond Road, parking area is on the left.
On this splendid afternoon, Danielle and I decided to meet up after work for a quick hike. Danielle is nearing completing the New Hampshire Fire Tower List and is waiting patiently for a road up north to reopen so she can finish. Visiting Jerry Hill came to mind as something nearby and fun–it has concrete footing remains from a long gone observation tower on top. It may not be on the list but we like collecting peaks.
At the trailhead there is a kiosk with a trail map. There is also something else interesting here, it is home to one of Concord’s six “Little Libraries”—an Eagle Scout Project. A weatherproof box on a pole that is a small library that people can use to exchange books for free.
From the kiosk go left to find the Blue Trail loop, we decided to go clockwise and then take the right onto the Yellow Trail to go straight up to the top of Jerry Hill.
The trails are easy to follow and there are lots of colored painted blazes on the trees.
The trail climbs about 300 vertical feet in just over half a mile to reach the wooded summit of Jerry Hill. We jumped on top of the concrete footings. Just like we always do when we find tower remains we wished that the tower was still standing.
Next we backtracked a short distance to the Orange Trail that we had just passed by. The Orange Trail leads to Gilfillan Rock, an outcropping of granite where most likely St. Paul students chiseled the name in memory of a classmate. Be sure to climb up on the rock to see the other carvings in the ledge—graffiti before spray cans perhaps?
Just past the Rock is a fabulous open outlook to the southwest. We could clearly see Pats Peak and Crotched Mountain and just to the right of Crotched further in the distance was Mount Monadnock.
We returned to the footings and continued to follow the Yellow Trail down where we were treated to a nice view of Mount Kearsarge before intersecting with the Blue Trail.
We turned right on the Blue Trail and in no time we reached the big vista of Penacook Lake aka Long Pond. Here there is a nice bench to sit on while enjoying the vista to the north. Over the water there are splendid mountain views, Bean Hill aka Highlands in Northfield and further beyond the Belknaps can be seen.
We continued down the Blue Trail and passed by a section of trail where trail work was recently done to make the path’s foot bed well graded. These are nice trails.
Next time you’re in Concord make it a point to take a hike.
This is harder than I thought it would be, are we more than half way yet?” asked a tuckered out man sitting on a rock on the side of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail. Becca and I just looked at each other because we knew we weren’t close yet. “We get there when we get there,” we cheerfully chirped.
Sure our packs were heavy, between 30 and 40 pounds, loaded with our ski/snowboard gear, clothing and food and beverages. The tuckered out man’s pack was much heavier because on top of his ski gear he was carrying camping supplies for spending the night at the Hermit Lake Shelters. A few moments later we passed a few of his friends. One of the men had a bloody face; he fell on it when he tripped on the trail. Yikes!
Hiking up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail isn’t easy, but thousands of people do it every spring to reach the snow that has piled up in Mount Washington’s most famous ravine, Tuckerman Ravine. The Dartmouth Outing Club, young Brooks Dodge and the Inferno Ski Race over the Ravine’s Headwall are legendary.
Young adventurers still come to ski in the dangerous mountains where avalanches roll alongside partying college students and older diehards that choose the less steep slopes—I don’t think things have changed much since the 1940s.
As we hiked up the rocky Tuckerman Ravine Trail the snow started to appear and in less than a mile we were walking on hard packed snow suitable for skinning.
Yes, I went skiing four days in a row.
Why not keep skiing until the snow has all melted away. As I sit here and write the weather forecast is warning me of another Nor’easter! Really? I can’t believe it. I don’t even dare express my glee. I know I am in the minority. Nearly everyone is ready for full blown spring—flowers, green grass, warm temperatures, but not me. I’m still have too much fun skiing. Thursday: Night Skiing At Pats Peak
Becca, Jeremy and I met up to enjoy the last Thursday night of the season at Pats Peak. The Sun was still shining and the slopes were covered from edge to edge with lots of snow. We rode the Hurricane triple chair together.
At the summit we stopped to admire the Peak double chair and we knew we wouldn’t be riding it ever again. This summer the old reliable lift will be removed and replaced with a lift that will carry more people to the summit per hour—a quad-chair with a loading carpet.
We skied all the trails from the top except the Hurricane. We timed it just right arriving at the summit to join a dozen others waiting to watch the sunset. We stood near the top of Twister and the FIS trail. We looked west and watched the sun sink quickly behind the hills just to the south of Lovewell Mountain. The sky was gold and red.
Friday: Racing at Sunapee
Mount Sunapee’s 20th annual TGIF’s April Fools race is dedicated to remembering our friends Mark Parris and Rick Hall. These young men left us too soon but they both loved skiing and they liked to have fun. We shared fond memories and had fun in their honor.
I arrived mid-morning and I joined up with my friend Doug’s alma-mater skiing group—Norwich University! Doug and his dozen or so classmates are really top notch skiers. I am not kidding we did more than ten runs, raced two runs and then skied another twenty runs.
These men came to ski. Of course the weather was not much like spring, it was cloudy and snowing. As the day went on the new snow accumulated and we were turning on skis on several inches of soft wonderful powder. No wonder no one wanted to stop.
Apres ski in the Spruce lodge’s Goosefeathers Pub there were awards and beverages. There are a lot of fast skiers a lot younger than me now and I guess that’s what happens in 20 years. Happy to see the traditions of classmates and fellow citizen racers continue and I plan on being here in another 20 years.
Saturday: Mittersill Fun At Cannon
Cannon had a packed house on Saturday. New snow and Bodefest had the skiers and snowboarders arriving at the mountain early. The main parking lots were full and thanks to cell phones I was able to call Becca and tell her I was parked at Mittersill.
Becca arrived early and following the uphill policy of Cannon she skinned up the ski trail route to the 4,000 foot summit of the mountain. Then she enjoyed a nice ride down the mountain that she had earned with her own feet.
We met at the Mittersill chairlift and we did eight runs but we mostly skied in the glades. There is a lot of snow on the groomed trails but there is a lot of snow in the trees too. We found lots of fresh snow too. Idiot’s Delight (I have no idea why this glade is named that) was super soft and it was fun winding down the mountain between the trees.
Then we went to the summit for a couple runs. The clouds were thick above three thousand feet and this made the visibility difficult. So back to Mittersill we went for the best light and snow.
Sunday: Family Skiing At Loon Mountain
On Saturday night our niece’s husband, Mike and their three daughters arrived to spend the night. Mike also brought along his friend Kevin with his two daughters. They drove up I-93 all the way from Boston. Loon and Cannon are their favorite choices for a day outing because it is an easy drive.
They made a big supper on the barbeque, beer can chicken. The chicken was moist and yummy and a big salad and other fixings. Then everyone was off to bed early in preparation for getting up early to ski Loon.
Skiing with these kids is fun, they love skiing and their skills improve each time they get out on the snow. There is a lot of laughter and hustling in the lift line to ride with their favorite pal. Kevin skied with his four year old on the 7 brothers lift, green circle trails near the base of the Octagon Lodge. Mike and I took turns being the sweep behind the gang of children that increased during the day. Mike kept meeting friends from Boston on the slopes and we all skied together.
We rode the gondola up and then skied down to the horizontal chair lift, the Tote Road Quad, which connects South Peak to the rest of the ski area. This lift is a favorite of children. People ride the lift in both directions and riders are facing one another as the chairs pass by as the cable moves along. The kids yell in unison, “Mustard or Ketchup?” “Cake or Ice Cream?” The approaching riders on the other side of the lift answer back, more often than not, loudly with their favorite choice.
This was the last weekend that South Peak would be open, not for lack of snow it would be closed. Loon was pleasantly full of skiers and riders but it was more like a nice weekday than a busy weekend. There were little to no lift lines and just a short wait for the gondola.
We enjoyed it all. From North Peak’s Walking Boss glades to Cruiser on South Peak and everything in between. The sun warmed us and the blue sky and the views of grand mountain peaks were endless. Truly a perfect day to take the children skiing. We even had our choice of tables when we went in for lunch. The luxury of Spring skiing shouldn’t be missed.
But, but, but April is AWESOME. April has longer and warmer sunny days and the slopes and mountains are still heavily blanketed with nice snow. This is the last weekend for Waterville Valley. Cannon and Loon’s proposed closing date is the 16th and Bretton Woods’ the 17th. Wildcat hopes to hang in there until the 30th.
Winter hasn’t given up yet and there’s proof! We’re still shoveling the snow that winter storm Stella left behind as she blew through our state.
Stella has made winter enthusiasts smile big. Skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers and snowmobilers rejoiced. Even before the blizzard there still was a lot of snow in the mountains and covering your local ski slopes.
The day before Stella was forecasted to arrive it was a lovely Spring-like day. There was no snow in my yard, the sun was shining and it now stays light out well after 5pm. I grabbed my skis and backpack and jumped into my car and drove to ski Mount Chocorua.
The Fat Lady has not begun singing yet.
There is still plenty of snow on the mountaintops and on the ski slopes.
Don’t give up on Winter!
Keep skiing, snowboarding, tubing and snowshoeing until the last snowflake melts. Join me in a snow-dance.
The days are getting longer and the mercury in the thermometer (or whatever that red stuff is now days) is on the rise. Spring is coming soon—the 2017 Spring Equinox will be at 6:28 am on Monday March 20th
Spring is fun and the proof is the goofy stuff people do on the slopes such as pond skimming. We dress up and try to ski or snowboard across a man-made icy cold pond. Sometimes with success but more often than not the result is a big splash. From now one you can pond skim somewhere every weekend.
Check with your local resort when they are hosting their Spring Celebration of pond skimming.
Pats Peak and Gunstock will be hosting their pond skimming contests on March 18th. Don’t forget to wear a costume to score the maximum points with the cheering crowds.
Bretton Woods’ Annual Beach Party and Slush Pool is being held on March 25th with live music and a lift ticket special pre-buy on-line $30 lift ticket.
April 1st, April Fools’ Day, Waterville Valley celebrates with $1 lift tickets (no joke) and hosts their Last Run Luau Pond Ski. Also on April Fools’ Day Mount Sunapee hosts its 19th Annual Mount Sunapee Slush Cup and Sunapee is famous for their very challenging long pond.
Loon Mountain’s Slushpool Party & Wet Tug-O-War and Cannon Mountain’s Blizzard Splash Pond will be both held on April 8th.
Yes, there is still snow on the mountaintops. You may start out bare-booting but please wear your snowshoes and not post-hole your way up the trail when you reach the snow. There is nothing like frozen holes in the snow to make for difficult travel up and down the trails.
I can forgive the moose but people’s frozen track traps are easily preventable.
We just recently snowshoed the Northern Presidentials—Madison, Adams, Jefferson, Washington and we summited Monroe too. What a sunny super day we had and the snowshoe track across the summits was in nice shape and in many places smooth like a sidewalk. But the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail had seen a great deal of traffic and had quite a few post-holes.
I don’t know how people can stand sinking deep down as much as mid-thigh high.
We saw a few skiers skinning their way up along the railway tracks and then later descending down into the Ammonoosuc drainage and back to the Cog Station. Soon we’ll all make a trip to Tuckerman Ravine.
Enjoy the snow, summer lasts a long, long time.
Lots of bright white snow and blue skies tempted us to skip out of work after lunch to go skiing. After all it was Valentine’s Day.
Charlie and I were able to get on our way by 1:30 and the drive to Gunstock Mountain Resort in Gilford was just an hour (about 40 minutes from Concord). We pulled in front of the Nordic Center and I jumped out of the car and ran inside to buy trail passes. To celebrate Valentine’s Day the mountain offered a special deal—trial passes and lift tickets were 2 for 1!
With passes in hand I jumped back into the car and we drove to the ski area’s main parking lot and parked near the Snow Groomer/Maintenance Sheds. We parked here instead of at the Nordic Center because I planned to do downhill skiing later while Charlie would continue to cross country ski. From here it is just a short walk to the trails and to the ski lifts.
We put on our cross country ski boots and dressed at the car. I forgot my light jacket but lucky me Charlie just happened to have an extra one in his bag. I used my no wax skis and Charlie rubbed some old extra blue wax on the kick zone of his skis. We walked a short distance past the sheds to where the Nordic trail crosses the road. We put on skis and headed up the Cobble Mountain Trail.
Oh, the trail was groomed wide for skating and a pair of perfectly cut grooves, nice tracks were made on one side of the trail. This season’s bounty of snow is making for excellent cross country skiing and snowshoeing.
We kicked and glided up the trail. My skis were okay but didn’t kick strong since the snow was still somewhat cold and powdery. Charlie’s skis kicked like a mule and yet his skis glided fast in the tracks too. He was giddy for so easily finding the perfect wax. The Cobble Mountain Trail is very skiable. The trail doesn’t climb all the way to the summit but climbs and then rolls down and then wraps its way around circling the peak through the forest.
At the far end of the Cobble Mountain Loop we turned and followed the Rock Loop where the low and soon to be setting sun reflected brightly on the snow covered marsh at the forest’s edge. The short loop’s scenery was nice and once again we were back into the forest skiing our way around the mountain and working our way back to where we began. The loop we made around the mountain is about 5k (3 miles).
Back at the road crossing at the sheds I clicked out of my skis and wished Charlie a happy ski. He continued up the trail and I ran back to the car.
I admit I was in a hurry to get on the Gunstock’s slopes. The Panorama lift closes at 4pm and I wanted to catch at least one ride to the summit. I don’t think I have ever so quickly changed my clothes and equipment.
People trying to walk fast in ski boots while carrying their skis look silly. No doubt I looked silly, there is nothing graceful about it. I awkwardly clomped along to the far side of the parking lot trying to get to the ticket booth at the lodge.
Luckily I was able to walk right up to an open register at the ticket counter. I was greeted with a smile. I am certain I am not the first Ski Nut to run in and try to get a ticket with no time to spare. As the ticket was printing I said I hope to make the last chair to the summit and she replied, “I know.” My face was red and I felt foolish but I was still hopeful I’d make it. She handed me my ticket and as fast as I could say “thank you” I was out the door.
I placed my lift ticket between my teeth so I could grab my skis and I continued my hustle up the hill to the lift. I began to lecture myself for not allowing enough time. I could see a ski patrolman standing near the lift. A lift attendant was taking down some ropes. Skiers and snowboarders were still sliding up and loading the lift. Yikes!
My heart was beating fast as I clicked into my skis and I fumbled to attach my lift ticket. Whew, I made it. At the last moment another skier glided up and joined me on the chair. He was happy to get one more ride.
On Gunstock’s summit there was little wind and the view north over Lake Winnipesaukee to the mountains was grand. This was the reason I didn’t want to miss the lift to the summit. There were at least a dozen other people just hanging out on top enjoying the view too. Mount Washington’s white cone was visible far away and the Ossipee Mountains looked like they were hugging the other side of the Lake.
I chose to take the natural snow covered ungroomed Recoil Trail. I picked my way down over the moguls. Nice. Thank you Mother Nature for the cool snow.
I went over to the Ramrod Quad and did a couple of runs: one down the race trail and another the trail next to it. The snow was soft and easy to turn.
I skated over to the Tiger triple chair and took a few more runs over there. A high school race was finishing up on Tiger and race training was happening on Cannonball. So I decided to traverse over to the Pistol lift and the terrain park.
As I neared the last turn to the lift I caught a glimpse of Charlie cross country skiing towards the main lodge. The lights were on and it was starting to get dark. I skied right up to him and surprised him. That was good Valentine’s Day luck that he didn’t’ have wait and look for me.
We had hot chocolate in the main lodge together and then I went back out for a little more.
I took a few runs over on the Tiger lift. In the short time I had been away they had groomed the Tiger Trail and opened the trail. Nothing like skiing a freshly groomed trail. Laconia and towns far away had a warm glow like distance Christmas lights.
T’was a fine day for cross country skiing and a fine night for skiing.
Skiing is sweeter than a box of chocolates.
Sharon and I bought the Mountain Collective Pass last March. We went to Whistler, British Columbia, Canada the second week of December. We also made a day trip to Stowe, Vermont a few weeks later. By using our pass for these ski trips we received more value than if we had purchased lift tickets and every outing after that would be a bigger bonus.
The Mountain Collective Pass provides two day lift tickets at 24 resorts and since we signed up early we were given a bonus day (we used it at Whistler).
Charlie’s brother Billy lives in Sun Valley. Billy told us he has not seen this much snow in all the 30 plus years he has called Sun Valley his home.
Sun Valley is part of the Mountain Collective.
My friend Sharon is a snow bird and leaves our beloved New Hampshire for the sunny golf courses and beaches of Florida. Sharon is an awesome skier and loves to ski. In her college days she was a ski instructor at the upside down mountain King Ridge (now a Lost NH skier area in New London).
Sharon had never skied Sun Valley. After Billy’s intel we got a good idea!
Sharon and I both were game to go and talking Charlie into coming along was easy. We met at the Avis car rental at the Salt Lake City airport and we were on our way by 11:30 in the morning.
The drive from Salt Lake was 5 hours. We lucked out with good weather and the posted 80 mph speed limit seemed rather reasonable with the straight pavement ahead of us as far as our eye could see.
As we entered Ketchum we could see Baldy’s slopes rising up from the River Run base. The snow banks were high and it snowed the day before we arrived.
Sharon stayed at the iconic Sun Valley Lodge and Charlie and I stayed with his brother a few miles away. We went out for a light supper but Billy wasn’t able to join us because he was busy with his new job as an Uber driver.
In the morning Charlie drove and dropped us off at the River Run base lodge. The lodge is absolutely magnificent with large log beams, wide open spaces and large crystal chandeliers that hang from the high ceilings. The staff is courteous and attentive—in fact when we asked an employee where the bathrooms were she insisted to show us the way. Even the wood panel door cubbies to store our boot bags were lovely.
Lift tickets at Sun Valley are over a hundred dollars a day if you buy them at the window. Yikes! Happily we were armed with our Mountain Collective Pass!
We hit the snow big time at Whistler. On our day at Stowe we arrived to find 3 to 5 inches of sneaky snow—snow that was not predicted in the weather forecast. Now, at Sun Valley we hit the jackpot again! The snow was fresh and the skies were blue and we were the luckiest skiers in the world.
The high temperature for both days was 15 degrees. The snowstorm delayed some flights at the airport, the locals thought it was cold and we were skiing mid-week—a perfect storm for no lift lines and near empty trails
We were among the first in line to ride the Roundhouse Gondola and then we slipped onto the Christmas high-speed quad to the summit. On top of Bald Mountain, elevation 9,150 feet, we had a big panorama including the snow capped sharp Saw Tooth Mountains.
We took a warm-up run on College, a long groomed run all the way back to the River Run Lodge, a 3,400 foot vertical drop. The squeaky snow made for soft turning fun.
For two days the snow stayed soft, the temperature stayed cold and the sun shined on us.
We had great days together on the slopes and in the bowls. On Seattle Ridge we skied Gretchen’s Gold, Muffy’s Medals and Christine’s Silver. Off the top of Bald Mountain’s ridge we skied Kaitlyn’s Bowl and near Warm Springs we skied Picabo’s Street. Yes, all these trails are named after the resort’s own Olympic Medalists.
Each of the lodges offer different food. We learned this too late to plan our meals. I did eat a giant Idaho baked potato with all the fixings and Sharon had a super deli sandwich on top of Seattle Ridge. While having coffee at the summit Lookout Lodge we took note that this little lodge specialized in Mexican Food.
The skiing could not have been better and the miles and miles of trails and bowls are so much that it wasn’t possible for us to find and ski every trail. But we did try!
The long continuous Warms Springs Trail has to be one of the best trails top to bottom and then we found the steeper Limelight!
Meanwhile, Charlie was having fun on the cross country ski trails. He skied the Wood River Trail along the Wood River from Ketchum to Hailey and back. He also spent a day up at Galena Lodge. We were a couple weeks too early to race in the Boulder Mountain Tour—a XC ski race from Galena Lodge to Ketchum.
Two days passed too quickly. But we made the most of it and were too tired to ski more, almost making it until the lifts closed both days.
Apres ski we swam in the outdoor heated 102 degree swimming pool at the Sun Valley Lodge, went window shopping and had supper at some nice downtown Ketchum restaurants.
Our second night Billy took us to the most popular restaurant on Main Street, The Pioneer Saloon. Decorated with stuffed local game trophies, old firearms and a long ago prospector’s fur coat this place is the real deal western saloon. The prime rib is famous.
On our last morning we all enjoyed a big breakfast at the Kneadery, which claims to feature the finest in Rocky Mountain rustic home style cooking. Sharon, Charlie and I all ordered the 2, 2, 2—two eggs, two French toast and two sausages. Good thing Billy showed up late since our breakfasts were also Too-much. Billy asked for an empty plate and we easily filled it for him. Charlie confessed with a big smile on his face that he had eaten breakfast here the previous two days.
The ride back to Salt Lake was uneventful and went by rather quickly since we all had great stories to tell.
Onwards to Alta and Snowbird to use two more days of our ski pass! Yes we did and we sure had fun hitting the jackpot again.
How’d we do it? We flew out early on Tuesday morning from Boston and returned the red-eye on Sunday night and made it back to work before 10 am on Monday. We missed 4 days of work total and I didn’t miss a night of ski racing at Pats Peak.
Amy Patenaude is an avid skier/outdoor enthusiast from Henniker, N.H. Readers are welcome to send comments or suggestions to her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
At 6 am in the Lincoln Woods parking lot the car’s thermometer read 1 degree. The moonlight was still bright so we left our headlamps in our backpacks and we put on our snowshoes. I followed Jeremy across the suspension bridge and down the Lincoln Woods Trail.
Our snowshoes loudly crunched each step as our snowshoes crampons bit into the hard uneven and rough snow. Footprints, post-holes and ski tracks were frozen in place and our snowshoes kept us from turning our ankles.
We didn’t talk since the crunching noise made it impossible to hear the other speak. The moon lit the way well but it was black when we passed through shadows.
I just kept following the silent dark figure in front of me.
Just before reaching the wilderness boundary Jeremy stopped to point out that our shadows had switched sides. Our faint shadows were no longer produced by the waning moon but now from the rising sun.
Once we reached the Bondcliff Trail the snow track was smoother due to the fact that most travelers out this far used snowshoes when the snow was soft and wet. Sometimes we could see fresh tracks made by micro-spikes and we guessed there might be a few people ahead of us.
Just before the trail gets steep we caught up to a small group with State Senator Jeb Bradley in the lead. We said quick hellos to our friends and shook a few hands as we continued on our way.
I love the long switch back up to Bondcliff, the gradual grade makes for comfortable climbing and I try not to act surprised to reach its end at the big step. After scrambling up and over the near vertical rock ledge the short way to the top is all above tree line.
Bondcliff’s windblown summit and ridge was mostly bare rock and ice. Our snowshoes really made a clatter on the rocks. The sky was free of clouds, the sun was shining and only a breath of wind was in the cold air. We slowed our pace and soaked up the grand vista and took a few photos. Loon Mountain’s ski trails were the only prominent evidence of man we could see over all the mountaintops for all the hundreds of miles around us. I felt like I could see forever. The stark winter beauty of the mountains was in full glory, Mount Washington shined big and bright way out there over the east side of Bond.
I don’t know if Jeremy thought about him because we didn’t speak of it. I know I was sad to think of the young man that had perished here alone on Christmas Eve.
We continued across, tagging the highest point and making our way down towards Bond. There was more snow and a hard cornice had formed on the ridge. (The wind blows harder between the peaks.) As we began to climb up Bond we joked that this was like climbing up Pats Peak. I have a habit of measuring mountains by figuring out how many Pats Peaks there are to climb.
On top of Bond we spun around and continued to soak up the wintery scene. I scampered up a higher ridge of snow between some stubby spruce trees. I looked down far into the valley. After I had moved away Jeremy climbed up too and on his return—WHOOSH! He had disappeared deep into the snow, falling down into a spruce trap and only his head and shoulders were sticking out of the snow. I couldn’t help myself from laughing as I watched him untangle his snowshoes and climb out. I was lucky it wasn’t me because I had walked right over that very same spot.
I started down first, I was feeling a little chilly from our brief summit break, but it wasn’t long before Jeremy caught up and I let him by. We heard the crunch of snowshoes before we met a gal who was staying at the Zealand Hut making her way to Bond.
At the spur trail to West Bond we dumped our packs and I tied my down coat around my waist and we scooted the half mile to the summit. From the summit we could see our friends making their way towards Bond. After a couple minutes we scooted back.
We’d been on the trail just over five hours. We agreed not wearing our packs felt like taking a vacation. Our winter packs are much heavier than our summer packs. We both carry a lot of extra warm clothing and more” just in case” items. Before shouldering our packs again we decided to eat.
Jeremy pulled out a single serving size apple pie and proved he could easily win a pie eating contest. I munched up some yummy oatmeal cookies that my mother had made for me. I put my orange inside my coat to warm it up so I could eat it on the way up Guyot. Jeremy is a Gatorade fan and I drink Powerade.
I slowed to peel my orange and I should have stopped since I walked into a tree limb and scratched my face. You’d think I’d learn.
Guyot is a windswept open peak that reminds me of Moosilauke. Again we kept our snowshoes on and clattered over rocks and ice as we went up and over its bumps. The trail back in the trees on Guyot’s north slope was covered with deep snow where a previous snowshoer’s deep tracks were now frozen solid in place and then other places the trail was covered with deep drifts.
When we reached the spur to Zealand’s summit we again dumped our packs. I grabbed my thermos and drank its hot contents as I strolled along the nearly flat path to the flat wooded summit. How delicious my mixture of hot milk, hot chocolate and coffee warmed me. Jeremy wrestled with a blowdown and successfully removed it from the path.
As we popped out we heard the crunching of her snowshoes before we saw her again. As we finished up our snacks we chatted with her about whether she was going to bother to visit the viewless Zealand summit. I said at least there is a nice sign when you get to the end of the path. She went.
The descent to Zealand Hut feels long and steep because it is. The ladder above Zeacliff Pond was icy and difficult but the snow around made it possible to get down. The trail from there was all hard pack snow. The water crossings were easy to cross on ice and snow bridges.
We didn’t stop at the hut, we were on a roll. A man smoking a cigarette on the deck did ask us where we came from and Jeremy replied, “Lincoln”.
Oh bother, from the hut to the parking lot at the end of Zealand Road on Route 302 is over 5 miles and there was maybe four or five hard packed inches of snow and ice. The snow was beat up rough from lots of hiker traffic to the hut.
We passed a couple of cross country skiers who had struggled their way up the road and had given up trying to ski up the trail. When we reached the road we took off our snowshoes and walked the road.
Our boots were quiet on the thin snow and ice and for the first time all day we were able to speak to one another as we went along. Chatting about the day and our future skiing plans made the dreaded road walk time fly by.
My car was right where Charlie and I dropped it off the night before at the Zealand winter lot, parked near the sign that read “Don’t walk in ski tracks”. That’s good advice.
Ten hours, a fast Bond Traverse in my book and my feet were only a little sore and I was really hungry.
Last night as we drove by the lit up slopes of Whaleback, I asked Sharon if she wanted to stop and ski some more and we both laughed. We were on our way home from a fantastic day of skiing at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont and we were toast. There wasn’t another run left in our legs.
Since the New Year began I have been working hard to keep my New Year’s resolution—making it a fun winter. I picked a resolution that is easy for me to want to keep because I love winter.
Our day started early, driving in the dark to reach the resort before the lifts started spinning. We picked up our friend, Amy, in West Lebanon and we zoomed up I-89.
Mid-week skiing is great because the slopes are uncrowded, but this Thursday was even better because there was 3 to 5 inches of “sneaky snow” waiting for us on the slopes. Sneaky snow is snow that mountains produce in the middle of the night and was not predicted in the weather forecast.
The three of us happily pounced on Spruce Mountain and made first tracks on Upper Sterling. The day was cloudy but it improved during the day. After five runs on Spruce we headed over to the Four Runner quad lift just above the Mansfield Lodge.
Nose Dive, Hayride and Lord had good snow and they were making more snow on some of the other trails. People were in and out of the glades but we stayed on the trails. Seriously, we hit the jackpot for snow conditions.
We didn’t quite make it until closing; at 3 o’clock we decided we’d had our fill. Especially after Amy and I decided to bounce and be tossed by Chin Clip’s moguls for our last run of the day.
But I was tempted to stop in for a little night skiing at Whaleback. I am lucky my friends have more sense than I do.
On Wednesday afternoon Charlie and I volunteered to teach cross country ski lessons at the Eastman Cross Country Center in Grantham, it is just a short ways from I-89 exit 13.
After last year’s nearly snowless winter these youngsters were fired up. This was their first lesson of the season for the students from Grantham. Skis, boots and poles were flying out the door in the arms of the kids.
The pent-up energy exploded and there was no slowing them down. They were kicking and gliding, double poling and laughing as they lead us to where they wanted to ski. On a groomed track we went up one snow covered fairway and down another making a big loop.
We worked on edging and turning by practicing tip and tail star turns—spinning around in place making a star design in the snow. We went up and down a small hill a dozen times practicing edging, snowplowing and turning.
After almost an hour and half outside our focus turned back to the cross-country center where everyone knew hot chocolate would be served to all.
We bet the students will be as eager to return next Wednesday as Charlie and I are for their next lesson.
Becca and I met at Tenney Mountain ski area. It isn’t exactly open yet, but there were ski and snowboard tracks marking up the snow on the trails above the parking area.
On this late Sunday afternoon, I put my skins on my skis and Becca put her skins on her split-snowboard. We clicked into our equipment and started up the well-used uphill track to the summit. We shuffled our way up and enjoyed the grand vista. Tenney has a big wide view from the Southeast to the North. The view of Mount Moosilauke is grand! The Franconia Ridge, Tecumseh and Sandwich Mountain feel close.
I recalled liking skiing here over the years.
As we neared the top of the chairlift we could hear the whop, whop, whop sounds made by the wind turbines on the ridge. On the top we had a good view of the spinning blades.
We ripped off our skins and readied ourselves for a fun glide back down to our cars. I attempted to take my skins off while my skis were still attached to my feet but I didn’t succeed—I’ll keep trying, I’ve done it before.
Oh what fun it is to glide through soft fresh snow. We didn’t make first tracks that afternoon, but I am sure we were the last to make tracks as the sun set.
From an old trail map we learned we skied the trails named Morning Glory and Roller Coaster. I hope we can do this again soon. I hope Mother Nature keeps being generous with the snow.
The snowshoeing in our White Mountains has been excellent with all the snow. My friends are summiting many of the 4,000-footers and some are off to a good start for completing the AMC 4k list in a single winter. Last week I visited the summits of Mount Jackson and the Osceola Peaks.
Oh yeah my team returned to Pats Peak on Monday night for the first of many fun nights of racing this winter. There is a good chance you can still join the league at your favorite ski area, some teams need to fill some slots.
Thanks for reading this! I have to go outside, Have Fun.
Sometimes I just don’t know where the time goes, but I am convinced that winter is too short. There are just too many fun things to do when the weather is cold and snowy. I want to ski every day, snowshoe up mountains every day and try new things every day.
The New Year is about to begin and the ski areas and Nordic centers have already been open for many weeks. Have you made your New Year’s Resolution yet? Why not make your resolution to make your winter fun! Choose to do something you love or choose to try something new.
Here are a few suggestions of easy to keep-make your winter fun New Year Resolutions:
Just Do It More
Ski or snowboard—resolve to do it more! Buy a season pass, join an adult race league team and/or plan a weekend of skiing and riding at a “new to you” resort. Ski New Hampshire has 33 alpine and Nordic member resorts. Have you been to all of them yet? Visit SkiNH.com.
Do It Better
If you ski or snowboard do it better. Get coached, take a lesson. The world’s best giant slalom racers and cross-country ski sprinters work hard to improve their technique by spending hours working with their coaches and practicing. You can be coached too. Snowsports professionals at your local ski area offer lessons and programs for everyone from novices to experts.
Gunstock has adult ski race training in January on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Waterville Valley’s Adventure Center Nordic Women’s Ski Group meets on Mondays and Fridays—try performance cross-country equipment and ski with a top instructor. Check out what the resorts have to offer, I bet you’ll find something that’s perfect for you.
Cold nights and sunny days make for great fun on the slopes. Winter doesn’t officially begin until December 21st, but it certainly looks and feels like winter is already here.
Cannon Mountain has been blasting snow on their slopes like never before! Just a quick glance at the mountain while driving through Franconia Notch and you’ll see the trails Zoomer, Rocket and Gary’s are sporting big fluffy white coats.
I met Becca at the Peabody Lodge. We were in our gear and waiting in lift line 15 minutes before the chairlift was scheduled to open. We could see the ski patrol were already riding up the lift. There were less than a dozen other eager skiers and snowboarders waiting ahead of us and many more gathered behind us.
I don’t think my watch was wrong but they dropped the rope and started loading the chairs five minutes early. What a treat!
Cannon Mountain made 5 million dollars of improvements to their snowmaking system and have increased their snowmaking capacity by 50%. 400 new high-efficiency tower guns and 40 new land guns have been installed and these snowguns require less energy to produce more snow. They’re estimating that only half as much energy will be required to make snow with the new equipment.
This is good news for Cannon skiers and riders because as the temperatures continue to stay cold more trails will open fast.
Becca and I shared our first ride up the mountain with a women that skis nearly every day at Cannon. We were all excited about the couple of inches of new snow that fell the night before and smoothly blanketed the groomed man-made snow. We would be making fine first tracks.
Ha! I didn’t like waiting for Becca to snap her boot into her snowboard’s binding because people would be getting after the fresh snow before me. Three people skied by me and that’s all it took. I told her I’d meet her at the Zoomer lift and I took off. Continue reading → Post ID 2787
Many of us had less than a 24-hour notice that Bretton Woods lifts would be spinning on Sunday, November 13th. I first heard the news from reading a friend’s Facebook post proclaiming that she was going skiing!
Later in the day I received an email notification from Bretton Woods inviting me to “Say goodnight to Hunger and Ski Free”.
Wouldn’t you know I wasn’t prepared? Charlie and I had made plans to go hiking.
That bag I packed last spring with my ski boots and clothing all set to grab and go was not with me. I had left it home. I thought I was being clever. I was counting on Bretton Woods making their surprise announcement on a weekday and I’d be ready to scoot straight from work.
Determined not to miss opening day, I dug out my Telemark boots and skis and decided I’d go right after our hike. I wouldn’t make first run, but I knew my legs wouldn’t last too long tele-skiing after a hike so a few hours in the afternoon would be just fine. Continue reading → Post ID 2787
Danielle and I met up just before 8 am at the Irving, the alien gas station, just north of I-93’s exit 33 on Route 3 in Lincoln. I get a kick out of seeing the giant alien that is painted on the side of the store. The mural commemorates the Betty & Barney Hill incident—the couple claimed to have been abducted by aliens in 1961 nearby in Franconia Notch. Further up Route 3 there is a state historical marker placed near the Indian Head Resort’s cottages that tells their story.
Danielle had no idea about the incident and I told her what I knew about it. Neither one of us feared meeting any aliens during our hike but we did worry about the rain.
We drove a short distance north and just opposite the Longhorn Restaurant we turned left onto Hanson Farm Road and drove to its dead end where there is room for a half dozen or so cars to park. There is no trailhead sign.
We walked past the gate and then under the northbound lane of the Parkway. At the intersection there is a sign with trail information for snowmobilers and a small sign pointing the way to Georgiana Falls. Below these signs there is an orange hand written plastic sign “Hiking Trail” with an arrow pointing to the right and “Snowmobile Trail” with an arrow pointing left—now that was easy to understand.
We went right and crossed under the southbound lane of the Parkway and followed the path to the brook.
Harvard Brook was flowing big after over an inch of rain fell during the night and it was raining lightly. We had big plans. Hiking the Georgiana Falls Path and bushwhacking to Wolf Club. The falls path would be new to Danielle and if there was a way we could cross the brook we’d save a few miles of walking on snowmobile trails. But as soon as we saw the brook we knew the chances were slim to none for fording the brook safely.
We decided to hope for the best and continued up the path. If the rain didn’t let up we decided we’d abandon our bushwhack plans.
Harvard Brook’s cascading was roaring and looked like a raging river. The walk to Georgiana Falls is an easy 7/10th of a mile and the footing is good. The 30’ foot high falls was loud and the cascading water bright white as it tumbled off the cliff.
We thought about turning back but the brook’s cascades were too lovely not to explore the upper falls, Harvard Falls. We followed the red blazes on the trees that led up the steep slippery rocky north bank of the brook. The rain had stopped but I don’t remember noticing when. Unlike the effort required to reach Georgiana Falls the effort to reach Harvard Falls is challenging and difficult.
Harvard Falls are 60’ feet high and the roar of the crashing water was louder. We decided to scramble and bushwhack to the top to see what we could see. We got a view between the clouds of the highway down below in Lincoln. In the winter you can see the falls, look for a white stripe of ice up on the ridge.
We followed the brook further and the channel was still more than four or five feet deep. Rocks that normally poked above were deep beneath the water. On the opposite bank there was a chair and behind it the snowmobile trail. If we were able to jump 30 feet to the other side we would have been able to save ourselves hours of hiking effort.
Silly us, we continued bushwhacking up stream until we reached the edges of Bog Eddy and it looked more like a big pond than a bog. We had to go back down. We had bushwhacked across an old logging road and decided to give it a try instead of descending along the rocky steep slippery bank of the brook.
At last the weather improved, it was cool and windy and the woods were beginning to dry up. The old logging road swung north around a bump and away from the brook. At times it was quite nice and sometimes it was hard and we had to push through young beech trees that were growing inches apart. We were able to make good time and we ended up near the bottom where we had started.
Along the path this old logging road was blocked by a stack of tree branches to keep people from going up the wrong way. We were happy to make a fun loop. Have Fun.
Georgian Falls and Harvard Falls are a fabulous little secret. I hope you get to visit them. Please be sure to stick to the blazed path (unless you’re an experienced bushwacker with the proper gear and carry a NH Hike Safe Card).
We’re talking about going back this winter to see what they look like when they are icy. Have Fun. *We did make it to Wolf Cub, a 3 thousand foot trail-less peak using the snowmobile trails to reach the other side of Harvard Brook.
There are lots of mountain lists and right here in New Hampshire we have many mountain lists. Some lists have been around a long time and are well known, while others are more obscure and a few are gaining in notoriety. Some list keepers will reward a hiker with a unique path for completing their list.
Around here most will agree that the most popular patch to be earned is given by the Appalachian Mountain Club for completing their New Hampshire Four Thousand Footer list—48 mountains all over the elevation of 4,000 feet. There is also special recognition for completing the list by summiting the peaks during the winter.
Closer to home The Belknap County Sportsmen’s Association sponsors The Belknap Range Hiker patch that is earned by hiking the 12 mountains that make up the Belknap Range. The Belknap Range Redliner patch, sponsored by the Belknap Range Trail Tenders (BRATTS.org), can be earned for hiking every trail in the Belknap Range and proceeds support their trail work.
The New Hampshire Division of Forest and Lands operates 15 fire lookout towers and offers the Fire Lookout Tower Quest patch that can be earned by visiting a minimum of 5 of their 15 towers.
You can discover more New Hampshire hiking lists that are managed by an advisory board made of up of hikers at www.48×12.com. The 48×12 is shorthand for the Grid—summiting each four thousand footer in every month! These are all fun hiking games/accomplishments.
One list at 48×12.com my friend Danielle is working hard to check off every peak that is on it is the entire New Hampshire Fire Tower list. This list was inspired by Iris Baird’s fire tower research and data collection. This list contains 93 fire towers proposed, past and present lookout towers.
Unlike the above lists that I have mentioned, this list requires visiting abandoned fire towers and sites where few if any artifacts remain and that have no trails to their sites but require bushwhacking; a swell way of saying you must find your way through the woods on your own.
I completed this fire tower list last winter; hiking many of these peaks with my friends Bryan and Becca. I am working on a different list right now, but Danielle and I decided to join forces to hike to these out of the way places. A fire tower here, a bushwhack peak there and it all adds up. Her list is getting very small. We’re having a lot of fun.
The Signal Mountain Fire Tower is still standing but it has been inactive since 1980. Signal Mountain is located in Millsfield, NH. We drove through Errol and of course we stopped by LL Cote Sports Center were you can get groceries and gas and buy everything from a sleeping bag to a shotgun.
From Route 26 we headed south on Signal Mountain Road for about 3 miles before parking at an old log landing on left. We were cautious while driving, the road is multi-use by ATV’s and logging operations are active in the area.
The foggy morning was clearing up and as we were gearing up to hike the clouds lifted off the pointy summit of Signal Mountain. I had hiked this with Bryan about a year ago or so and it all looked the same as I remembered.
Danielle pulled out her map and she told me her plan and I followed her up an old skidder road across the logging cut. This was about the same way as I remembered hiking to reach the old road.
The old road has seen some ATV use, but not recently, and we had no idea how they accessed it.
We ignored some old skid roads that went straight up the mountain and we continued winding around the mountain as we climbed. Higher up, we came to a fork and I recalled going to the right but she wanted to go to the left so we did. Shortly after we intersected with a newer road that is being used by tractors or ATVs. This led us straight to the tower. We hiked about 1.7 miles and climbed almost a thousand feet to reach the tree covered summit.
The tower has seen better days. There are steps missing on the stairway, windows are boarded up or missing and it could use a paint job. But there is a lot of new equipment attached to the tower and I believe it is used for tracking moose. For over 35 years this tower has been unattended.
Even if we were to have attempted to climb the tower there were no views to be had because the clouds were just barely above our heads. We poked around the summit and found parts to an old wood stove and some wire.
We decided to return the same way since the footing was good and I recalled the other fork being ledgy and slippery. Lower down in the cut area we took a different skid road that ended up being not quite as nice but it delivered us back to the car just the same.
After our morning hike we decided to go just down the road a little further and bushwhack to another 2,000 footer trail-less peak. Happily, the sun decided to come out even though the weather forecast called for rain.
We jumped a moose and enjoyed wonderful views of Signal Mountain.
Amy Patenaude is an avid skier/outdoor enthusiast from Henniker, N.H. Readers are welcome to send comments or suggestions to her at: email@example.com.
Why not? We could stay with our AT thru-hiking friend Carey Kish and his fine wife Fran in Southwest Harbor on Mount Desert Island. We could see the Ocean. It would be fun. So we did!
We skipped out of work a little early on Thursday and with a copy of the AMC’s Best Day Hikes along the Maine Coast in my hands, written by non-other than our friend Carey Kish, I made a plan while Charlie drove east.
Midcoast Maine, as best as I can tell, are the places between Freeport and Belfast. Then it’s Acadia/Bar Harbor and that other coastal place I have yet to visit called Downeast. Maine is big and has a big coastline.
Just north of Freeport we got off the Interstate and continued on Route 1 until we turned off towards the ocean. We passed through Damariscotta where traffic was stop and go, not due to the bridge bottleneck but because of forklifts running around carrying giant pumpkins on the main street.
Three hours later we were standing at the La Verna Preserve trailhead kiosk—trip #22 in the guide complete with map. I picked this trip because the 3 mile lollypop-loop has half of mile of trail right on the rocky coast and it sounded lovely for a late afternoon adventure.
Wasting no time we hit the trail. We wanted to make sure we were out by dark—can’t waste those headlamp batteries. The well blazed trail’s good footing made it easy for us to hustle down the trail through the woods and over bog bridges.
We heard the noise of the water hitting the rocks before we caught our first glimpse of the dark ocean through the trees. The trail dropped and we went nearer the water and we followed a spur that opened right out to onto the rocks. In the distance, the view of the near and far islands were tinged pink in the alpine glow of the soon to be setting sun.
More than once I muttered that we should have allowed for more time to enjoy this place. We walked slowly until the path turned away from the ocean. Back in the woods we hiked fast back to the trailhead and darkness greeted us back at the car.
The super large pumpkins were out on display in Damariscotta and luckily we were able to secure two seats at the King Eider’s Pub. At the bar we were served crab cakes, fresh fish and a recommendation to stay at the Hawk House B&B (just four miles away).
After yummy eggs and homemade bread toast prepared by our host at the Hawk House we drove two hours to Acadia National Park.
Straight to the Loop Road we went and we parked in the right hand lane (like they do on the one-way Loop Road, remember not anywhere else) and just past the parking for the popular Precipice Trail. Luckily, right in front of the rock climber’s herd path.
Charlie led me up a three pitch vertical climb and it did have wide belaying ledges to stand on while Charlie climbed above me. The rock was nice, the weather perfect and the wide ocean vista was grand and it was a fine fun afternoon for rock climbing.
Carey and Fran are wonderful hosts. They made us supper and put us up in a comfy bed.
We were up early and Fran, Charlie and I went off to hike. Fran is a strong hiker and she is in part because she redlined Acadia’s hiking trails—she’s hiked every single trail! She is the best guide. From her husband’s guide I had picked Trip #30—Beech Cliffs/Beech Mountain Loops. Fran agreed it was a good choice and nearby on their “quiet side” of Mount Desert Island.
From the parking area on the south end of Echo Lake we started up the Beech Cliffs Trail. Wood carved signs, rock steps, big lookout ledges and even a few iron ladders on the steepest parts make up the trail to the lookout tower.
The Beech Mountain fire tower is sometimes open but we were too early for its noon opening. We still climbed the stairs up to just below the cabin. Oh the view of the surrounding mountains and the sparkling waters was lovely.
The guide book gives an excellent description of the trails and what you can see in the vista.
With Fran’s guidance we strayed from Trip #30’s route and we headed down the South Ridge and returned via the Valley Trail. There are so many options for hiking—Acadia National Park has over 120 miles of trails and paths. Yes, Fran has hiked every mile and many more than once.
After our hike we picked up Carey and we all went to the Oktoberfest celebration. We met friends, tasted beers and tasted beer (yes we did).
The next day the weather wasn’t as wonderful—rain was moving in. Charlie and I managed to get up early and go for a hike. The trailhead for Mansell Mountain is not far from where we started our last hike but on the south end of Long Pond. The wind was blowing hard and making whitecaps on the pond. The Perpendicular Trail, originally constructed by the CCC, has over 1,100 stone steps. Fran has counted them and confirmed that there are that many stone steps! This trail is a piece of art and will withstand the test of time and the repeated travel of hikers for generations to come.
Again we enjoyed nice views and the darkening skies really made the yellow and red foliage appear even brighter. We had a nice view of Beech Mountain and could see the fire tower too.
Since it was not raining yet we descended via the Razorback Trail. From the ledgy open ridge we could see far out to the mountains and ocean. Luckily we made it back to the car just as it started to rain.
After lunch we met our good friends Kris and Jay for a short hike in the rain. Donning our rain gear we walked on trails close to Bar Harbor. We walked along the Tarn on the path paved with giant rock blocks and then we made a loop up the stone staircase that forms the path for the Kurt Diederich’s Climb and then descended on the switchbacks on the fine stonework of the Emery Path.
We got soaked but the view over the Great Meadow and Bar Harbor to the ocean was stunning. The giant cruise ship anchored in the harbor was dwarfed by the vastness of the ocean and the islands.
On our final night we all went out on the town of Bar Harbor (just like everyone else on Mount Desert Island). Our dinner reservations at the Side Street Café were late. Carey said it was well worth waiting for and he was right. To pass the time we sat at the bar next door, Pork Nation, where the bartender entertained us with good Oktoberfest tips.
The next morning the sun reappeared. Carey and Fran were busy packing for a camping trip to Isle au Haut and they had to be ready to leave the next day to catch a 4:30 am ferry to the island.
We joined Kris and Jay for a 25 mile ride through the park on the famous Acadia Carriage Roads.
As soon as we finish our bicycle ride we packed up our bikes and began the 5 hour drive home. With Charlie behind the wheel, I sat in the passenger seat and thumbed through Carey’s guide and dreamed about our next visit to hike the Maine Coast.
Amy Patenaude is an avid skier/outdoor enthusiast from Henniker, N.H. Readers are welcome to send comments or suggestions to her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.