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.

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 […]

The Games Hikers Play

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. 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 […]

Hiking Companions Tackle NH’s 4,000-Footers Together

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. 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 […]

Single Day Bonds-Zealand Traverse

by Amy Patenaude Outdoor/Ski Writer There are 48 peaks on the New Hampshire 4,000 Footer list and the most remote are the Bonds. The three Bond peaks are far in the federally designated Pemigewasset Wilderness and a long hike is required to reach them. The traverse from Lincoln Woods on the Kancamagus Highway to the end of Zealand Road (near the backside of the Bretton Woods Ski Resort) is just shy of 20 miles and up 4,600 vertical feet. There are a few ways to hike the Bonds and Zealand Mountains and none of them are easy. Many people will do the trip over two or three days by camping along the way. My friends Sarah and Sharon, the golfing gals, had no interest in camping and they nervously opted to do it in a single day. I knew they could do it but it would be a long day. This summer they’ve hiked Owls Head, the Twins and a good number of rounds of golf on hilly courses. I estimated they would do it in 12 or 13 hours if all went well and we’d do it on a day with a good weather forecast. I’ve led other family […]

Up To The Summits Of The Twin Mountains

by Amy Patenaude Outdoor/Ski Writer We met at the New Hampton Park and Ride lot at 6:30 am and in one car we continued north on I-93. The sky was grey but the clouds were high above the mountains. As we drove through Franconia Notch, I pointed out that Mount Liberty looked like George Washington lying in state, the summit of Liberty is certainly a good likeness of our first President’s nose. The weather forecast called for cool weather with the clouds clearing by mid-day. We all wanted a clear day on top of the Twin Mountains. The peaks are in the middle of the White Mountains and high above the designated Pemigewasset Wilderness. The North Twin Trailhead is west of the Village of Twin Mountain and from Route 3 turn south on Haystack Road and drive straight to its dead-end. There are about a dozen campsites on Haystack Road and they all appeared to be occupied. No surprise since these Federal camping sites are free for public use.   Sharon, Sarah and I headed up the trail. I reminded them we had hiked the first mile of this trail a few years ago to reach Mount Hale’s abandoned Fire […]

Two Day Presidential Campaign With A Night At The Lake Of The Clouds

by Amy Patenaude Outdoor/Ski Writer The short flight from Baltimore, Maryland had arrived early and Sue was already waiting at the curb at the Manchester airport as I arrived to pick her up. She jumped into the car and we headed north for her “dream come true” hiking adventure. Sue wanted to hike Mt Washington and as many 4k peaks as possible during her visit. Last spring I led Sue and her husband up Mt Moosilauke. Sue caught the 4k bug and “needs” to hike all 48 peaks on the 4,000 footer list. I checked the Appalachian Mountain Club’s website, outdoors.org, every day for weeks only to find that the Lake of the Clouds Hut was booked full. But two days before she arrived, miraculously the site showed vacancy and I made a reservation. This good luck made it possible to try for a 2-day Presidential Traverse—that is hiking nearly 23 miles and climbing 9,000 vertical feet to visit the summits of 8 peaks. Not only did we have a reservation for a hut stay but our good luck continued with a greatly improving weather forecast that ended up proving true. Just before 7 am, we dropped a car at […]

A Hike On Pine Mountain Trail

Hiking the Evelyn H. & Albert D. Morse, Sr. Preserve by Amy Patenaude Outdoor/Ski Writer Early Saturday morning, while the Mount Major parking lot was overflowing out onto Route 11, we were headed to another nearby quieter and smaller Belknap peak. Charlie and I easily pulled into the Mike Burke, Alton Town Forest parking area on Avery Hill Road in Alton. There is room for about a dozen cars here. I had printed the Pine Mountain Trail map from the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (SPNHF) website, www.forestsociety.org . I had learned about Pine Mountain because its trails are included in the 60+ miles of trails that must be hiked to earn the Belknap Range Redline Patch offered by the Belknap Range Trail Tenders (BRATTS.org). The BRATTS are a volunteer group that perform great work maintaining and improving the hiking trails in the Belknap Range. The goal of the redline challenge is for people to have fun exploring the Belknap Range and to inspire new BRATT membership to help maintain these trails.