On The Trails & Summits

On top of Machu Picchu Mountain, elevation 10,111 feet
On top of Machu Picchu Mountain, elevation 10,111 feet

Amy Patenaude is the Weirs Times Outdoor Columnist. She is a life-long resident of New Hampshire, born in Concord and now a Henniker resident.

Amy has been writing her bi-weekly column for the Weirs Times since 2000. Amy travels to the highest peaks as well as to the more obscure places of nature throughout the state of New Hampshire and beyond. Amy’s international treks have also taken her from the Virgin Islands to Ireland and places in between. Each visit brought to life in her own personal style.

When Amy isn’t researching a column for the Weirs Times you might find her competing in a cross-country or alpine race, just to relax.

So, whether it’s a cross-country ski-trip, a hike through the known and unknown trails of New Hampshire or an exotic adventure to places “away”, Amy is sure to surprise even the most seasoned outdoor enthusiast with her adventurous, educational and fun experiences in the great outdoors.

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

  by Amy Patenaude Outdoor/Ski Writer The New England Highest Hundred Peaks include some that are the home to a ski resort. I made it up Pico, Killington, Sugarloaf and Mt. Ellen while there was still enough snow to be able to ski. Pico closed for the season many weeks ago. I skinned up and tagged the summit and skied down. There was so much snow that they easily could have remained open like its sister resort next door, Killington. But as one friend in the ski biz said to me, “This time of year we run out of skiers before we run out of snow.” When I left home it was sunny and clear but when I arrived at Pico it was cloudy and then I realized it was melting snow fog. I had hoped it would clear but it didn’t. As I was headed up the trail I met a man skiing down with a baby on his back. On the summit the fog swirled and I had a brief view of the top of the Killington. Just as I was heading down another fellow reached the summit. I wasn’t even aware he was behind me since I […]

Red Hill

  by Amy Patenaude Outdoor/Ski Writer The Red Hill Fire Tower rises high above the shores of Squam Lake and Lake Winnipesaukee. Visitors that climb the steps up the tower will behold a grand vista over the Lakes to the White Mountains, the Squam Range and the Belknaps. The Ossipee Mountains and the Sandwich Range are near. On a clear day the panorama grows wide and many far away peaks can be seen from the tower. The Lakes Region Conservation Trust has conserved nearly 24,000 acres and the Red Hill Conservation Area is more than 2,650 acres. Henry David Thoreau hiked to the top of Red Hill in July of 1858 and I trust he would still find it quite enjoyable since much of the view has stayed wild.   We needed a hike not too far north since we had an event in Exeter to attend later in the day. We’ve both been to the fire tower before but Danielle had not hiked the Eagle Cliff Trail. The Red Hill Trails are described in the AMC’s White Mountain Guide and this would count for redlining for her. We both desired a peak with a big view and Red Hill […]

Utah – Rain, Snow & Sunshine!

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. 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 […]

Not Giving Up on Snow!

  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 […]

Yup, It’s Spring

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! 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 […]

High Above the Notch Eagle Cliff & Cannon Mountain

  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.   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 […]

Snow’s Great & How Are You?

  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 […]

Success!

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 […]

Two Wonderful Wednesdays Killington & Okemo

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 […]

Never Too Cold To Play!

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. 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 […]

A Wintry Day At Loon Mountain

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. 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 […]

Ski and Snowboard Fun at Waterville & Cannon

-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. 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 […]

First Runs at Bretton Woods

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. 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 […]

Wet Waterville Valley Walking

  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. 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 […]

Random Walks And Thoughts (Think Winter)

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. 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 […]