• Snow’s Great & How Are You?

    With the recent warm weather, Outdoor/Ski Columnist Amy Patenaude isn’t ready for spring just yet and fills us in on some great skiing that is still to be had in the Granite State. Picture here, Pats Peak’s mascot Snowball welcomes Amy’s college friend Sue back to Pats Peak. As Amy says: “There is lots of winter fun to find this winter!”


    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    Have you noticed how long the days are getting now? With the passing of Valentine’s Day I get into a bit of a panic that the end of winter is drawing near. I don’t want winter fun to stop! Winter officially ends Tuesday, March 20th at 12:16 pm. Eeek that’s less than a month away!
    The snow is great on the slopes and in the woods and I have been doing my best to enjoy it. From the last two weeks here are a few highlights of the winter fun I have found!

    Summited Mount Dartmouth
    Charlie dropped me off at the intersection of Base Road and Jefferson Notch Road and he went off to Bretton Woods to go cross country skate skiing on their groomed trail system. My husband isn’t a bushwhacking fan.
    I shouldered my backpack and clicked into my back country skis and kicked and glided up the snowmobiled snow packed Jefferson Notch Road. Surprisingly only a handful of courteous snowmobilers zoomed by me as I skied up the 3 mile long uphill to the height of the land. I entered the woods to the west, just opposite the parking lot for the Caps Ridge Trail.
    In the woods there were a few inches of fresh snow on top of a thin ice crust covering more than a foot of cold dry snow. Punching through the ice layer would not be good skiing so I dumped my skis. I took the snowshoes off my pack and put them on my feet and continued on my way.

    Beneath the snow covered trees my snowshoe tracks cross moose tracks and moose tracks cross my snowshoe tracks.

    My snowshoes stayed above the ice crust most of the time and it was nice snowshoeing. The temperature stayed cold and the snow on the trees didn’t fall or drip on me. I had a pleasant trip up the mountain. I saw lots of moose tracks and signs but no live moose this trip.
    I had visited Dartmouth’s wooded summit before but this was my first time in winter. On top I changed into a dry shirt before heading back down. I didn’t realize it until I got home that my compass must have flung off my neck and into the snow when I took off my shirt. Yes, I do carry a spare compass since that time Bryan’s needle just fell off and broke. But I didn’t need a compass on the way back because I followed my snowshoe track.
    On my return the clouds had begun to lift and I enjoyed blue sky and slightly obstructed views of the Presidential Mountains. In no time I was back to where I had left my skis against a tree and I was excited to ski down what I had climbed up.
    I turned my phone on and texted Charlie that I’d be back at Base Road soon.

    Having too much fun on Cannon’s slopes we forgot it was cold outside.

    Skiing Cannon
    Yah the weather was windy and wild but the five-finger trails off the Zoomer chairlift were more sheltered from the elements. Our niece’s husband and their three young daughters were excited to ski and, all bundled up, they didn’t care it was cold. We skied all morning and got in as many runs before they had to head back home. Cannon has made a lot of snow this winter and Mother Nature has been pretty generous too. Cannon will be hosting Bodefest on March 24, 2018 and registration opens on February 21st on-line at CannonMt.com, click events.

    Sue hasn’t skied in many years but she took right to the slopes at Pats Peak. There is a lot of snow on the ski slopes; it is a good time to go skiing or snowboarding!

    Skiing Pats Peak And A Hockey Game
    I can be found every Monday night racing in the adult league at Pats Peak, but this ski outing was going to be special. My college pals, Sue, Gail and I were going skiing together!
    When we were engineering classmates at New England College, Sue, Gail and I did a lot of skiing at Pats Peak. Skiing at Pats Peak is one of the perks of attending NEC. The three of us have not skied all together since college. Gail has come to ski recently but Sue had not been back to Pats Peak since graduation.

    Snowmobilers like to take their photo in front of this sign so I did too. Winter travel on the Jefferson Notch Road is most often made by snowmobilers but I cross-country skied up the road.

    Gail and her husband were going to join us on their way back from a few days of skiing at Sugarloaf but Gail broke her leg there, darn it, and they had to go straight home.
    Sue had flown up from Maryland to watch her son’s hockey game at Proctor Academy. Yes, Sue, the same pal that hiked the Presidential Range with me this past summer. We were sad that Gail couldn’t join us but the show must go on.
    Sue was excited. We skied on wonderful soft snow. It was nice out but the temperature was below freezing. Sue told me her hands were freezing and her gloves were worn out and no good. She laughed as she recalled she had purchased these mittens at Pats Peak decades ago. After the run we went right in the lodge and into the ski shop. Sue bought a new pair of warm mittens. She left her ancient mittens behind in the shop with the clerk.
    Cascade Basin lift and trails were all brand new to Sue. Cascade Basin’s novice and intermediate trails were the perfect warm-up for her. She remembered the names of her favorite trails, Duster and Tornado! We rode the new summit triple chair and enjoyed the loading carpet. I also like the new lift’s cushioned seats.
    We left the slopes just before 4pm, after skiing every trail, so we could make her son’s hockey game. I haven’t attended a hockey game for decades and it was fun to watch her son score a goal. But that loud music that blares for a few seconds between things getting done on the ice seems crazy to me.
    The next day we repeated our fun at Pats Peak. But before heading to the second hockey game we went cross-country skiing on Proctor’s cross-country ski trails. We had a fun time and next year Gail will join us.

    The Bretton Woods Nordic Center hosted the Bretton Woods Nordic Marathon and the 45th annual Mount Washington Cup last weekend. The races started behind the Mount Washington Hotel.

    Cross-Country Ski Racing at Bretton Woods
    Bretton Woods Nordic Center hosted a weekend of racing. Saturday, the Bretton Woods Nordic Marathon to benefit the New England Ski Museum was held and on Sunday skiers raced 10k in the 45th Annual Mount Washington Cup. Both events are part of the New England Nordic Ski Associations ZAK Cup Series.

    Happy cross-country skiers at the Eastman Cross Country Center in Grantham, NH. Elementary school children take weekly lessons at Eastman and enjoy skiing their 36 kilometer trail system.

    A handful of my friends did both events. First the marathon—42 kilometers of classic technique and then next day they raced another 10 kilometers using the skate technique. Charlie and I had a commitment that prevented us from doing the marathon but we drove up from Henniker to toe the line for the start of the Mount Washington Cup.
    The races start right behind the Mount Washington Hotel on snow blanketed the golf course and then skiers enter the trail system that winds through the forest and over the foothills of the Presidential Mountains. The trails were groomed smooth.
    Charlie waxed my skis fast and I soon wished I had lined up closer to the start line since I kept skiing up on the guy in front of me. Shortly all the skiers were spread out and we able to move where we wanted to go. Thankfully I didn’t see any broken ski poles. I lost sight of Charlie, he is fast.
    Everyone finished the race before the rain shower arrived. Inside the Nordic Center we enjoyed apres race snacks of cheese and crackers and cookies while we awaited the results. Skiers of all ages and abilities take part in this event and medals in five year age groups were awarded.
    There are so many more places I want to ski and mountaintops I want to visit before spring arrives! Get out and Have Fun!

    Amy Patenaude is an avid skier/outdoor enthusiast from Henniker, N.H. Readers are welcome to send comments or suggestions to her at: amy@weirs.com.

  • To-Do, or Not-To-Do

    Ken Gorrell

    by Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    The new year brought new state laws across the land, new experiments in the “laboratories of democracy.” That phrase, coined by Progressive jurist Louis Brandeis, sounds like a strength of our federal system: Fifty states, implementing laws and regulations that fit each one’s unique circumstances, within the framework of our national Constitution.
    It would be a strength, if not for the fact that some people – like Brandeis himself – see these experiments as merely a first step. Instead of letting states innovate, their ultimate goal is to impose some experiments on the rest of us, using one state’s “success” as justification. The worst and most recent example of this was ObamaCare.
    Only one state had experimented with a program similar to the ObamaCare blueprint: Massachusetts. President Obama’s touted his now-discredited law as a national extension of Republican Governor Romney’s state health insurance experiment. When he ran against Obama’s reelection, Romney was in the awkward position of advocating the repeal of a federal law that had been based on his own signature achievement as governor.
    RomneyCare wasn’t successful, yet the president and congressional Democrats covered their ObamaCare lies in part by invoking Massachusetts as democracy’s laboratory.
    A valid experiment must be replicable under similar conditions. But our states are not similar enough to justify the federalization of one state’s attempt at policy innovation.
    Geography, demographics, and history all play parts in making our states unique. Even in small and relatively homogeneous New England, each state has distinctive characteristics. I like to think that such as Bernie Sanders could never be elected to high office in New Hampshire. We have a very different tax structure than Taxachussetts. Connecticut seems intent on following in the footsteps of near-bankrupt Illinois, rather than applying the lessons of small-government in the Granite State.
    NH ranked #1 for economic freedom in a 2017 Fraser Institute report, followed by Florida, Texas, and South Dakota. Four very different states, but on Fraser’s measures of government spending, taxes, and labor market freedom, we are similar. At the other end of the spectrum, the least-free state was New York, at the bottom with California, New Mexico, and West Virginia. Again, states that otherwise have little in common share that ignoble distinction. Continue reading  Post ID 3148

  • Success!

    Danielle and the view of North Bald Cap
    Danielle and the view of North Bald Cap with the Presidential Mountains further in the distance as seen from The Outlook. The Outlook is a fine view ledge 1.6 miles from the Success Trailhead on Success Pond Road. Mount Success is a peak crossed by the Appalachian Trail and is on the “52 with a View” list and is ranked #95 on NH’s Highest One Hundred list.

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    Sometimes I don’t make the smartest decisions and still everything ends up fine.
    Danielle and I have been trying to make a winter trip up Mount Success since Christmas. Due to extreme cold temperatures and or a big snowfall we have cancelled our plans four times. But this past Wednesday we decided it was really going to be the day to do it.
    Success Pond Road from Berlin is a private road that isn’t maintained for average car travel. My hiking friend Keith, from Berlin, said that Success Pond Road was plowed but it was icy. I told him I had chains and he thought we’d probably be fine.
    I picked up Danielle in Concord and as we drove north on I-93 we watched to the west the big bright Super Moon sink out of sight. When we hit Franconia Notch is was snowing but as we neared Twin Mountain the sky was more blue than cloudy.
    We headed up Success Pond Road and the first bit was fine because this is the access for the City of Berlin’s snow dump. Ten wheelers were traveling in and out and a bulldozer was pushing the snow away.
    Here it was flat and the ground was an ice rink. I stopped the car and got out the chains. Danielle and I went to work putting them on the front of the car. But there was a problem: I had never put them on this car before and I did not know that my car’s suspension did not have clearance for the chains. Of course I had managed to jam the chain up and it took some work to dislodge the mess.
    So here we were with blue sky and an icy road. I have an older Audi Q5 all-wheel drive car with new all-season tires. I decided I would give it a go anyway and attempt to drive the 5.5 miles to the trailhead. I had a shovel and a pair of cross country skis in the back just in case I thought. I rationalized if I made it up and down the big hill at the beginning we’d be fine.
    Yes this was not my best decision, I decided, as I kept one side of the car’s wheels in the snowbank to keep the car from sliding down and turning into an uncontrolled bobsled. I drove slowly and let the car bounce in the frozen ruts. Danielle was quiet in the passenger seat.
    45 minutes later we were parked near the trailhead where luckily a wide spot was plowed at a snowmobile crossing with room for a car or two to park.
    We put on our boots and bundled up since it was only 8 degrees but there was no wind. We shuffled to the trail and discovered that a snowmobile had recently taken a ride up the trail. We tied our snowshoes to our packs and decided to bare boot it up the trail as far as the packed snow would hold our weight.

    Yours truly running away from the Mount Success’ summit to get out of the cold wind.


    The snow was deep on the Mahoosuc Trail/Appalachian Trail nearing the summit of Mount Success. Our heads hit the branches usually high above the trail.
    There’s a hole in the bucket! Artifacts from a long ago logging camp, old buckets and pieces of a cast iron stove, hang on a tree along the Success Trail.

    The snowmobile made it about half way to “The Outlook” and from this point the trail was still packed well by previous foot traffic. We made good time up the 1.6 miles of trail to reach this fine view ledge. The Outlook has spectacular views of the Presidentials over the nearby dramatic ledge face of North Bald Cap. The Outlook is also a fine perch to view the peaks in the North Country. Danielle and I had once bushwhacked to the summit of North Bald Cap on a cloudy rainy day and it was nice to see it.
    We put on our snowshoes since the snow was not packed above The Outlook. We broke through the thin ice crust into the softer snow beneath between 1 to 4 inches. Of course occasionally we got tripped up by a deeper punch into the snow but that is the fun of snowshoeing.
    Now the steep trail was behind us and the rest of the way to meet the Mahoosuc Trail/Appalachian Trail was pleasant. We pushed through some mean blowdown trees right before reaching the Bucket Tree. Over the years, pieces of a cast iron stove and rusty pails have been placed on this tree as a reminder that long ago this place was a logging camp.
    We turned south on the Mahoosuc Trail and we realized there was more snow here because our heads were hitting the tree branches above the trail. Route finding was challenging since the white blazes of the AT are few and far between and were difficult to see in the snowy conditions. We quickly got up and down the steep ledge near the bottom of the col between Carlo and Success because our snowshoe’s crampons stuck fast to the ice and snow.

    The 5.5 mile drive from Berlin to the Success Trailhead on Success Pond Road would have made an exciting episode of Ice Road Truckers. Thankfully I didn’t join the list of “stupid hiker drivers” stories told by the local tow truck operators.

    We put on our puffy jackets before we let Mount Success wow us with its open windswept summit. Rocks and ice covered the summit ledge. Below, the ice covered bog bridges across the frozen meadow poked through little snow. The wind was cold here. Danielle stopped to take some photos and I felt too cold to stop yet and so I hurried off past her to reach the other side of the mountain where I recalled the views were more open to the Presidentials. We enjoyed the grand vista far and wide.

    On our return we walked out on the frozen ground to an area that would not be easily reached in the summer to a rocky knob with a fine view down to The Outlook.
    The trip back down the mountain went by quickly. This was Danielle’s first visit to Mount Success and we could not have asked for a more splendid winter day.
    I wasn’t looking forward to the drive back and in fact I forced myself during the hike not to think about the icy road because it wouldn’t help to worry.
    There are mile markers on the road. Mile marker five was missing but 4, 3, 2, 1 were a welcome sight. I drove slowly and often on the wrong side of the road with my wheels in the same snowbank that delivered us to the trailhead safely.
    As we neared the last big uphill and the final downhill to the snow removal dump my palms were sweating and I was nervous. I increased my speed for the steep climb and my car just barely had enough oomph to reach the crown of the hill.
    I had no time to enjoy the fact we had not slid down backwards because now I could just barely see through the sun’s glare reflected off the ice covered steep chute. I couldn’t help but notice that the road aimed directly at the bulldozer parked in the middle of the flat ice rink below. We now noticed numerous truck ruts that led into the ditch where my car would find no return.
    Again, thankfully my car did not turn into an out of control bobsled. With the wheels in the snowbank as far as I dared keep them we crept straight down that hill a bit faster than comfortable but the car didn’t slide into the ditch. We made it and we didn’t even come close to ramming the bulldozer.
    We enjoyed a good day on the mountain and there were some scary thrilling moments on the drive that I would have rather skipped. Yes, not my smartest decision I decided. And what would I have said to my husband if he had smashed up his car on this icy road? I didn’t want to think about it, it was behind me now.
    When we were back on nice black pavement something popped into my mind, “Why didn’t I put the chains on my rear tires?” Duh! Next time, right, if there is ever a next time. Have Fun.

    Amy Patenaude is an avid skier/outdoor enthusiast from Henniker, N.H. Readers are welcome to send comments or suggestions to her at: amy@weirs.com.

  • Ten Years After

    Ken Gorrell

    by Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    I’d love to change the world
    But I don’t know what to do
    So I’ll leave it up to you
    “I’d Love to Change the World”
    —Ten Years After (1971)

    British blues-rock group Ten Years After is one of my favorite Woodstock-era bands. They probably didn’t sing it this way, but when I hear “I’d Love to Change the World” on classic rock stations, I picture them with wistful, ironic smiles.
    The refrain reflects the disconnect so many young people felt at the time; wanting change, but not knowing how to accomplish it.

    Tax the rich, feed the poor
    Till there are no rich no more

    Acknowledging that we’ll run out of rich people before we run out of poor, hungry folks means your solution it has a major shortcoming.
    Looking to others to solve problems while proposing flawed solutions is part of the human condition, a bit of childhood we can’t shake as adults. And nowhere is this on better display than when we talk about improving public education.
    In my last essay I reached back twenty years to a 1997 scholarly paper on disengaged students to show that problems identified two decades ago were still hounding public education today.
    This week I’m reaching back just ten years, to one of my own essays. “Math Wars” struck a chord with mathematics “traditionalists” who opposed new mathematics curricula. It was posted on a few math-related online forums. It was even quoted in a 2008 paper by Prof. George Cunningham, published by the Pope Center for Higher Education Quality.
    I share this not because I’m entirely too pleased with myself, but because it shows that one doesn’t have to be a mathematician or teacher to understand a basic truth about teaching math. Prof. Cunningham pulled this quote from my essay:
    If by “meaningful computational algorithms,” we mean simple, accurate and repeatable – things like the traditional addition algorithm, or long division, then the average student will never develop such an algorithm and should not have to try. Universal mathematical algorithms were developed ages ago by Archimedes, Euclid, Descartes and Pascal. There are not many budding Pascals in our school districts, but there are plenty of children capable of learning from the methods discovered by the great mathematicians in history.
    Math traditionalists – mainly parent groups and mathematicians – believed in teaching those traditional algorithms. Getting the right answer using clear, concrete standards based on actually solving math problems was key.
    Reformists – mainly the education establishment – eschewed the memorizing of such core knowledge, preferring student “self-discovery.” For them the journey was key.
    I’m not making this up. Their own words: “The authors of Everyday Mathematics [a now-discredited reformist curriculum] do not believe it is worth students’ time and effort to fully develop highly efficient paper-and-pencil algorithms for all whole number, fraction, and decimal division problems.”
    How did that work out? Cunningham noted that “In the past, most students learned all of the traditional algorithms in fourth and fifth grades without great difficulty, as do students in other countries.” College students “without the ability to multiply or divide multi-digit numbers without the use of a calculator will quickly find themselves enrolled in remedial math, where they will be taught what they should have learned in fourth grade.” Which is, of course, exactly where many college students find themselves today. Mastering higher mathematics requires a solid foundation. Only an “expert” could fail to understand that.
    Prof. Cunningham was exploring whether the University of North Carolina’s education schools were helping or hindering potential teachers. Answer: UNC’s education schools, “like most throughout the United States, are very much in the thrall of the progressive educational culture” and “newly trained and certified teachers are not likely to be ready to help their students make the best progress they can.
    Leaving K-12 education up to “the experts” has been a disaster, and not just for math. Millions of young minds have been damaged in what can only be described as wide-scale progressive social experiments on live and unwitting subjects using unproven methods. (Yes, Common Core, I’m talking about you.)
    Sometimes the world doesn’t need to be changed. Sometimes we just need to rely on timeless truths, like mathematical algorithms. Since our public education system seems loathe to accept that, we need to apply the only leverage we have: Choice.
    Choice brings competition. Competition will lessen the impact of the “experts” who have been designing and imposing these damaging, universal social experiments, and whose livelihoods are enhanced when pedagogy shifts like women’s fashion. Competition brings control. It’s time to take control of public education.

  • A Life Changer

    A Fool In NH Column Heading

    Reprinted from Brendan’s book “The Flatlander Chronicles.”

    When you win something like this, people suggest it is best to keep quiet about it. It’s a good idea to wait and first hire an attorney, get an unlisted phone number and all of your affairs in order before making the announcement to the world.
    I’m sure every Tom, Dick and Harriet will be oozing out of the woodwork trying to sell me on their charity or group and how badly they need my generous donation. There will also be new old friends with their hands out, as well as long-lost family members you never knew were even gone.
    Still, I don’t care. I am throwing caution to the wind and shouting it to the world: “I Won Powerball!!”
    It didn’t hit me at first as I checked my numbers against the winning numbers printed in the newspaper; I didn’t have any of them. My eyes wandered over to the right hand side of the ticket and, sure enough, my Powerball number matched the number in the newspaper exactly. To make things even better, I had played the Powerplay option and so my prize was multiplied four times.
    I took a deep breath and checked the number again, fished out my calculator and was hit with what felt like a ton of bricks when I saw that I had won TWELVE DOLLARS!! (Nine dollars and fifty-seven cents after taxes. I am, like most of you, an honest citizen that reports every single dime I make.)

    At first, all sorts of thoughts drifted through my head. Should I call my family and friends in New York to tell them the news? What would be the first thing I would buy? Should I invest it? Should I give half to a charity I believed in? Should I quit my job?
    My head began to spin as I considered all my options.
    The thing that concerned me the most was what would happen when I brought the ticket down to the convenience store to collect? Would there be news crews waiting for the winner to come and collect his prize? Had one of the reporters from the local television station been camping out all night drinking coffee and eating jelly donuts waiting for my arrival? What about the local papers? Would they splash my name all over the front page and, worse yet, would they spell it incorrectly?
    When I arrived at the convenience store it seemed like business as usual. There were no news trucks, no reporters. It was just the girl at the counter who had sold me the ticket a few days before.
    I knew she might be impressed. She was from another country and I’m sure that when she ran the ticket through and it announced “Congratulations. You’re a winner!” and then saw the amount I had won, she might look at me in a different light. My friend, Vinnie, once told me that in some countries twelve dollars could last you a lifetime.
    She took the ticket, ran it through the machine, listened to the announcement, stapled something onto the ticket and asked: “Do you want to have more tickets for this?”
    “Don’t I have to fill out a form or something?” I asked.
    “No form, just ticket. How many?”
    “You don’t need my Social Security number?”
    “Number? You need number for car wash?”
    I told her I’d just take the cash and left quietly.
    I took another look to the left and right as I exited the store; no news trucks or reporters waiting. There was probably a big fire somewhere or one of the presidential candidates must be shaking hands at a Bean Hole Bean supper somewhere.
    I took the twelve dollars home, placed it on the kitchen table and stared at it for a long time. It had been quite awhile since I’d seen so much cash in one place that actually belonged to me. It’s at this point that I decided to write this column.
    I’m still not sure what to do with the money yet. I have heard stories of people whose lives were ruined after winning Powerball. I started to understand why as I felt that sense of reckless abandon begin to swell up inside me.
    I am determined not to let that happen to me. That’s why I am announcing it now. I feel it best to get that anonymity of who the winner is out of the way so I can suffer the consequences and then get on with my life as quickly as possible.
    As far as how I will end up spending my winnings, that is still left to be seen. I’m just glad that I won the money at this stage in my life, living a comfortable existence in New Hampshire. I know my experience and maturity will come in handy.
    A six pack of an expensive microbrew seems like a good investment for the time being.



  • Two Wonderful Wednesdays Killington & Okemo

    Yours truly frolicking down Frolic on Snowdon Mountain Peak. Vermont’s Killington Resort’s six peaks, Killington, Skye, Ramshead, Snowdon, Bear Mountain and Sunrise, provide 150 trails and 3,050 vertical feet of skiing and riding.

    By Amy PatenaudeSki/Outdoor Writer

    Our friends on the other side of the Connecticut River have a lot of nice ski areas too. Killington Resort and Okemo Mountain Resort are worth the extra drive and especially when they treat New Hampshirites like locals.
    When one of my friends asked me if I wanted to go to Killington with him I jumped. The snow conditions were the best—packed powder everywhere and they reported 154 out of 155 trails open. The upcoming weekend forecast had that ugly “R” word and I rationalized I should go get it while the getting was good.
    Killington offers $58 dollar lift tickets to Vermont and New Hampshire residents on Tuesdays and Wednesdays but not during holiday weeks. I handed my driver’s license over the counter with my money. The sales clerk handed me a lift ticket and she reminded me that Tuesdays are New Hampshire days too and to come back again soon.
    I met Jeremy at the K-1 Lodge and booted up and we made it to the lift line at 9 am just as they started loading the gondola with eager skiers and snowboarders.
    On the ride up I knew it was going to be a great day. The sun was shining and the snow sparkled on the trees and slopes. Best of all there was little to no wind and the temperature was in the double digits and rising.
    On top of the mountain I was wowed by the view. I have skied Killington dozens of times but I realized this was the first time I had ever been here when the vista was crystal clear. All over Killington Peak I could see fabulous mountain vistas. I could see so much more than Vermont’s peaks the Adirondacks in New York and New Hampshire’s White Mountains starring Mount Washington could all be clearly seen by the naked eye.

    Checking out “The Stash” an all natural inspired terrain park on Killington’s Bear Mountain Peak.

    We skied and skied. I think we were on a mission to ski every trail on the mountain. The cold packed powder snow was dreamy. Killington Resort’s trails connect their six peaks. We skied a few top to bottom runs back to the gondola and then more runs on Bear Mountain and Skye Peak before heading over to Snowdon Mountain and Ramshead Mountain.
    People were skiing and riding and dropping into the trees off of the trails on Snowdon and Ramshead.
    This was the nicest day I have ever had at Killington. I have skied here dozens of times but mostly for early or late season when not every trail was open.
    At the Ramshead Lodge we stopped for lunch at 11:30. I had the burger special with lots of bacon and cheese and Jeremy had chicken tenders and fries and of course hot chocolate too.
    We continued our mission covering as many trails as possible. We even skied down to Route 4 and rode the Skyeship Express Gondola back up to the top of Skye Peak. That was a first for me.
    Just after 2 pm we took a short break right at the top of the mountain in the Killington Peak Lodge. We had a drink and my legs sure appreciated a little rest. Jeremy was more eager to get back out.
    Superstar never skied sweeter. The trail is covered in deep snow and it will last long into the spring and maybe into summer at the rate this winter is going.

    Au natural snow on the Killington’s South Ridge Trail The Jug, follows an abandoned lift line.

    I can recall our last run because it is the trail I have skied the most in early season, Double-dipper to Cascade down to the K-1 Lodge. The lifts closed at 4 pm and we finished at 4:05. The skiing had been so good that I didn’t want to stop but my legs were glad the lifts were closed.
    Jeremy tracked our day, we made 25 runs and skied 30,800 vertical feet. I was surprised at our total but on second thought there was a reason I was worn out.

    Yours truly, Kris and Sharon celebrate a snow day at Okemo Mountain Resort, Ludlow, Vermont.

    Okemo Mountain Resort offers a special for Vermont and New Hampshire residents, Wonderful Wednesdays, non-holiday, all day for just $45 (plus $5 if you don’t already have their RFID card).
    The three of us had planned to go skiing together over a month ago. When I woke up it was snowing. We were going to go to a resort 3 hours away but after a few messages back and forth we decided we would still go skiing but we’d stay to closer to home. Okemo Mountain had been on our short list of places we wanted to ski together this season and it was less than an hour and a half away.
    I picked up Kris and Sharon in New London and we were on our way. The snow fell lightly, the roads were okay and traffic moved along at a reasonable speed.
    Sharon is a good luck charm. Every time I ski with her it snows!
    Kris skis Okemo often and knows her way around. She suggested that we start from the Jackson Gore base area.
    Mid-week skiing is less crowded but a mid-week morning during a snowstorm makes it feel like you own the place. During a snowstorm it takes a while longer for people to show up. The only time all day we waited in a short lift line was after lunch at the Sunburst 6-pack.
    We took the lift from the base and worked our way over to the Quantum Four-bubble chair that carried us to the top of Jackson-Gore Peak. While most everyone else scurried off to Okemo Peak we skied Jack Gore’s trails and made fresh tracks for a half a dozen runs in a row.

    Kris and Sharon making fresh tracks on Quantum Leap underneath Okemo Mountain Resort’s warm and comfy Quantum Quad orange bubble chairlift.


    Okemo Mountain Resort boasts 121 trails and delivers 2,200 vertical feet. Nearby the Okemo Valley Nordic Center offers groomed trails for cross-country skiing and access to snowshoe trails.

    Down Limelight, White Lightning and Rolling Thunder we let our skis glide through the fresh snow. Kris thought the snow was like silk. I thought it was like butter. Our skis just glided and we floated while we made easy turns.
    We cruised over to the main mountain and the tracked out snow was still cold and fluffy. We skied World Cup and took a run through their terrain park but we stayed clear of the jumps and features.
    At the Summit Lodge we had lunch. Hot homemade chicken soup, grilled cheese sandwiches and a fresh made Rice Crispy square hit the spot. Of course we had hot chocolate too.
    The snow continued to fall and for the views we were lucky to be able to see the buildings down below at the base. When we were on Okemo Peak we could barely see the top of the fire tower.
    Okemo has made a great amount of snow and with the four or five inches of new fluff on top the only evidence we had that there was a big thaw a week ago is that the glades were not open. The snow was great and worthy of the accolades they receive for their snowmaking and grooming.
    We had a fun day making lots of runs and enjoying the chairlift rides together.
    On the way home we stopped at the famous Singleton’s General Store in Proctorsville, Vermont. It is truly one of those stores where if they don’t have it you don’t need it. Between the three of us we bought a pair of pants, a shirt, smoked sausage and we admired the pink Smith & Wesson 380 displayed behind the gun case glass.
    Have fun.

    Amy Patenaude is an avid skier/outdoor enthusiast from Henniker, N.H. Readers are welcome to send comments or suggestions to her at: amy@weirs.com.

  • Everything Old Is New Again

    Ken Gorrell

    by Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    Last week, advocates for education who put children ahead of institutions were given a reason to smile: SB 193, establishing education freedom savings accounts, passed a critical vote in the House. If all goes well, new doors will open for parents seeking the right educational opportunities for their children.
    When it becomes law, individual student accounts can be created using ninety-five percent of the state’s per-pupil adequate education grant designated for that specific child. The details are available on-line. Basically, education savings accounts (ESAs) will empower parents of modest means to take advantage of a wider variety of schooling options if they believe their local public school is not a good fit. Who could be against that?
    The usual suspects are against it: The state’s elected Democrats; the public-sector unions NEA and AFT; the ACLU; and organizations that want school choice to extend only to those parents rich enough to be able to opt-out of the public system. I think of these people as modern-day Aztecs: Like priests of that Mesoamerican civilization, they have a penchant for human sacrifice. Opponents of ESAs are willing to sacrifice other people’s children on the altar of a public-school system they deify.
    They are also hypocrites. I haven’t read anything from ESA opponents denouncing rich parents who fail to support their local public schools when they send their kids elsewhere (depriving their districts of that state adequacy grant). The same people who never miss an opportunity to denounce “tax cuts for the rich” refuse to denounce “education choice for the rich,” and oppose efforts to expand opportunity to all.
    Why might more parents want that opportunity? Perhaps it has to do with public school’s track record. I read an article recently decrying “Disengaged Students and the Decline of Academic Standards.” The author, Paul Trout, an associate professor of English, began by stating that “It is bad enough that many students who enter college are underprepared, underskilled and generally dumbed down. What is worse is that more and more of them are entering college – according to UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute – ‘increasingly disengaged from the academic experience.’”
    Students are spending less time studying, doing homework, and engaging in academic pursuits. Record numbers say they are frequently bored in class. Children are “sitting for hours in mental states that approach suspended animation,” learning to “get by with the least possible effort.”
    The author places some blame for this on the “success model,” where “every student – regardless of talent, inclination, and attitude – must succeed.” Academic rigor is “jettisoned to preserve self-esteem.” And now, lowered standards, expectations, and preparation in K-12 is poisoning higher education. In a vicious circle, colleges lower their standards to meet the (in)abilities of “college ready” high school students, while also training and certifying the “earnest pedagogues who imposed the stultifying ‘success’ model on primary and secondary schools in the first place.”
    Trout believes that the number of disengaged students “has reached some sort of critical mass at the primary, secondary, and now college levels.” He provides some possible remedial actions and….oh, did I mention that the article was written in 1997?
    The problems Trout highlighted two decades ago are still with us today. Solutions have been proposed, tried, and failed – repeatedly – as that critical mass has grown. Yet the deifiers of public education refuse to question their dogma. Their faith in one system is unshaken, despite what the data show. They can look at drop-out rates, test scores proving large numbers of graduates aren’t proficient in core subjects, and higher public education spending per capita buying lower test scores than our economic competitors, while condemning as heretics those who seek a different path. For decades they’ve been burying their record of failure under a mound of edu-speak and arrogance.
    This is what their failure looks like: In the Smarter Balanced tests, students are assessed as either being on-track to demonstrating the knowledge and skills necessary for college and career readiness (whatever that means, given decades of dumbed-down of standards), or not on-track. Last year, for all NH schools and all tested grades, more than 4 in 10 students were not on-track in reading. More than 5 in 10 were not on-track in math. More than 6 in 10 were not on-track in science.
    There are real children attached to each of those statistics. Advocates for ESAs see them as individuals, worthy of the chance to go where they can succeed. Opponents treat them as just so much grist for the mill.
    Education freedom savings accounts are part of a badly-needed education Reformation.

  • Tribal Tribulations

    Ken Gorrell

    by Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    E pluribus unum. It’s one of the few Latin phrases kids learn in school – or used to. Given the sorry state of civics education, perhaps the motto of the Great Seal of the United States has been left on the curriculum cutting room floor.
    The American ideal of a single people forged out of many – the melting pot – has fallen out of favor. In its place we have a strange mélange of micro-tribalism and identity-politics, pitting small groups against each other and the best interests of the nation. Soon we may need to update the Great Seal’s motto to E pluribus chao: Out of many, chaos.
    The irony of this regression into ever-smaller and more bizarre tribes is that we have never been more “melty.” Race had been the big dividing line, not just for blacks but Asians as well. Even within the “white” label there was a pecking order, with Irish, Italians, Poles, and Jews struggling at times at the bottom of the pile. The lines have blurred in 21st century America.
    Mixed-race marriages no longer merit notice in most of America. Christian churches ordain and marry homosexuals. More women than men earn advanced degrees. Movement between income quintiles is much more fluid than the “income inequality” protestors acknowledge. Race, sex, and hereditary wealth aren’t the gatekeepers they used to be.
    It’s hard to tell from the twelve-year-old black & white photo that accompanies these essays, but I am a ruddy-complected red-head; by appearance my ancestry is clearly “UK mongrel”. A recent DNA test confirmed that, but with a twist.
    Seventy-five percent of my DNA is from the UK, which Ancestry.com defines as not just England, Wales, and Scotland, but also Normandy and a bit of the Low Countries. The test picked up my St. Lawrence River French settler connection. My great-grandfather’s marriage to a French-Canadian Catholic girl got him kicked out of our Anglo-Protestant family, a banishment that lasted two generations. Times have changed.
    The only other high-confidence match – meaning there definitely is a DNA connection – was Senegal. Yes, West Africa. It was only 4%, but it’s there. Senegal was a big slave-trading area for centuries. It seems one of my distant relatives did more than sample the native cuisine.
    Based on the science of DNA, I’m more “African” than Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is “Native American.” Unlike Fauxcahontas, I won’t try to capitalize on a genetic connection (real, in my case) to get preferential treatment at Harvard.
    The senator’s former employer is being investigated by the Department of Justice for its race-based quota system that limits its Asian student population to about half of what it would be under a policy based on academic performance. Maybe Harvard should follow its Ivy League compatriot Brown University and adopt a process that allows applicants to “self-identify” as a “person of color.”
    Does that sound crazy? It’s the direction we’re heading, pushed along by Progressives who believe in the daffy notion of “social constructs.” Liberals claim the mantel of science, yet want us to believe that we can create our own reality just by wishing it so. Non-believers can either acquiesce or be forced out of the public square – violently, as we’ve seen on college campuses across the nation.
    DNA – our genetic code – is being cast aside in this rush to create personal realities. The problem with this, besides the obvious, is that newly-minted subgroups are now jockeying for position in the grievance hierarchy.
    Rachel Dolezal, the Caucasian woman forced to resign from her leadership position in the NAACP when she was outed as Black-in-her-mind-only, is still playing dress-up and staging a comeback. Blacks rightly reject the idea of race as a matter of “self-identification” that ignores their history and would open the racial preference system to, well, people like me.
    An administrator at a state university claims that campus LGBTQ centers are bastions of “homonormative whiteness.” The multi-colored rainbow flag is too “White,” it seems. The transgender movement works to normalize a psychiatric condition that favors “feelings” over the reality of XX and XY, leading to head-scratching headlines like this: “High School Boy Wins All-State Honors in Girls Track and Field.”
    When reality is considered a social construct, all bets are off. People will construct things that make sense only in their minds. Each “reality” will demand pride of place in the social hierarchy and spoils system. Progressives will insist that we accept these flights of fancy or risk the worst label modern society can apply: Judgmental.
    So, hang on. The social-construct roller derby is going to be bloody fun to watch.

    Ken’s email is kengorrell@gmail.com

  • Cleaning House

    Ken Gorrell

    by Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    Philosophers and theologians have debated for millennia what happens to us when we die. I am supremely unqualified to contribute to their search for the material or spiritual truth. But six months after being named executor of a relative’s estate, I know a lot about what happens to our possessions when we die.
    The liquidation process has taken longer than it would have had my second-cousin-once-removed filed a proper will, or if our genealogical connection had been better documented. In addition to being named executor, I was his closest living relative. But when the court demanded proof, I had to spend months searching our extended family tree, shaking the branches to make sure no long-lost relation fell out.
    In the meantime, my wife and I had to sort out the finances and the contents of the household. Not surprisingly, creditors were more willing than the court to accept me as a responsible party in dealing with the estate, despite the fact that I had no access to the accounts. They’ll get theirs, in due course.
    The household goods, now shorn of whatever emotional worth they once had to the deceased or might have to the family or friends left behind, revert back to their practical, utilitarian state. Their value is now entirely in the eyes of people looking for a good deal on used stuff.
    That’s not always easy to accept, especially since my cousin had been living in his childhood home. He had kept a lot of his parents personal items. His mother had been a homemaker and bookkeeper; his father an engineer with Westinghouse. Her oil paintings adorned some walls while others sat in a closet. She had been a talented amateur. Her art will find new homes in the estate sale.
    His father’s patent book, awards, and memorabilia from an interesting life that included work on Gemini and Apollo are now nothing but momentary curiosities on their way to the trash bin. So, too, the photo albums, including pictures of their 1955 family vacation to Niagara Falls. After remarking on how well-dressed the vacationers were, into the bin they went.
    His parent’s wedding photo, in the typical 1940’s style that made them look like movie stars, was harder to throw away. But the death of their 65-year-old son was the end of their line. The frame was worth something, but the memories it once contained meant nothing to any living soul.
    My wife and I spent four melancholy weekends sorting the memory items from the items of marketable value. We did set aside a few personal mementos, tangible bits to help us keep their memories fresh in our minds. Neighbors stopped by to offer condolences and share their own remembrances, which helped make the whole process less wearying.
    But once the sorting was done, it was time to think like an executor. My cousin was not the sentimental type; he wanted his property turned into cash and distributed – after expenses and the executor’s cut – to the five youngest members of my family. Even without a proper will, he had made his intentions clear.
    To meet his expectations, we turned to an online estate auction company. The magic of the market never ceases to amaze me. In its purest form, sellers and buyers exchange items that each finds more valuable than what they had. I suspect that if all manufacturing were to cease for a year, and we could find a way to perfectly match sellers and buyers, all our material needs could be satisfied by swapping around what already exists. Perhaps that’s why capitalist invented planned obsolescence and the fashion industry spends millions convincing some people that they need to be trendy.
    Aside from some tools, lawn and garden equipment, and a few collectibles, I see little of value in this 1950s cape. But virtually everything here will find a new home in the auction, even the not-quite-mid-century-modern furniture that spent the last five decades in the hermetically-sealed formal living room. The alchemy of the online auction will turn lead into gold.
    The house itself will be seen by someone as the perfect place to live, and perhaps raise a family. It had first sheltered a young family of four, and in the end protected the last member of that family until the paramedics arrived. Soon, a new chapter will begin, and the house will again be a home. Old memories will be replaced by new hopes and dreams. Even in our inanimate objects there is a circle of life.

    Ken Gorrell can be reached at kengorrell@gmail.com

  • Never Too Cold To Play!

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

    By Amy PatenaudeSki/Outdoor Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • A Wintry Day At Loon Mountain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Ski and Snowboard Fun at Waterville & Cannon

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

    -NH Slopes Are Wide Open!

    By Amy PatenaudeSki/Outdoor Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Hey Bungalow Bill

    Ken Gorrell

    by Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    One of the lesser works on 1968’s The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album) was The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill, a song mocking an American who went on a tiger hunt during a spiritual retreat in India. The Beatles had been part of that retreat, and John Lennon found mixing hunting with spiritualism discordant.
    One can imagine Lennon’s song-writing reaction to President Trump’s reversal of an Obama-era ruling making it virtually impossible to import some big game trophies from certain African countries. Though Trump reinstated the original ban last week, the caterwauling media – both main stream and social – made two things clear: This is an emotional issue, and few understand the connection between conservation and capitalism.
    Hunting is a proven conservation technique, here and in Africa. While populations of elephants, lions, and other trophy-worthy African wildlife are dwindling in some countries due to poor land management, bad government, tribal traditions, and illegal poaching, in other countries the business of big-game hunting has helped to increase such populations. But after the Cecil the Lion incident a few years ago, journalists know they can tap a rich vein of emotion when reporting these stories. In the Trump era, journalists prefer emotion over facts.
    At Fox News, Army veteran and former military intelligence analyst Brett Velicovich denigrated trophy hunting, employing class-warfare rhetoric and sounding every bit like the antifa morons committing mindless violence on college campuses. America has been poorly served by our intel community in part because of “analysis” like this. Velicovich used Zimbabwe as his springboard to attack those who believe that hunting is a valid part of conservation efforts. Yes, Zimbabwe has been a political mess, bad for man and beast under the rule of its 93-year-old dictator, Mugabe. But other African nations have demonstrated tremendous successes, and last week Mugabe was removed from power. I hope current intel analysts saw that coming.
    For those who prefer facts over sentiment in their analysis, the reasons to support African trophy hunting are compelling. Even left-of-center media outlets have made the case. In 2010, The Economist reported that “Governments have mostly failed to protect Africa’s wildlife. But other models— involving hunters, rich conservationists and local farmers—are showing promise.” The article pointed to economic and social problems in Africa – not rich American hunters – as the primary reasons behind declining big game populations in some countries. To protect endangered species, “The first step is plain economics: a recognition that the wild has to pay its way.”
    The BBC – no part of the vast right-wing conspiracy – published a piece in 2015 pointing out that with big game hunting, “the nuances of this story are too complicated to be understood by a generation raised on films like the Lion King, and the resultant Walt Disney sentimentality towards Africa’s wildlife, and who are all too eager to tweet their disapproval.” In the real world, the “Circle of Life” isn’t a poignant song; it’s bloody and brutal. It’s Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, not a cute cartoon.
    Are big game hunters the callow cad immortalized by the Beatles? No. In 2006, a researcher in Kenya found that eighty-six percent of hunters interviewed for a study said they preferred hunting in areas where a portion of proceeds went to local communities. Nearly fifty percent indicated they’d be willing “to pay an equivalent price for a poorer trophy if it was a problem animal that would have had to be killed anyway.”
    Even CBS’s 60 Minutes managed to air a balanced segment in 2012 focused on the rise of African game hunting in Texas. “How did thousands of Texas ranches become home to the largest population of exotic animals on earth? It’s thanks to trophy hunters like Paul.” The opposing view was presented by the delightfully-named Priscilla Feral, president of an international animal rights group. Despite carefully-managed and growing populations, she doesn’t “want to see [exotic animals] on hunting ranches. I don’t want to see them dismembered. I don’t want to see their value in body parts.” One can only wonder what she thinks about the legal practice of killing a viable human fetus in the womb by dismembering it.
    National Geographic reported in 2007 that “southern white rhinoceros grew from just 50 animals a century ago to over 11,000 wild individuals today, because hunts gave game ranchers a financial incentive to reintroduce the animal.” The World Wildlife Fund pegs the current population at more than 20,000. That’s conservation capitalism in action. It’s a shame this complex issue became just another excuse to bash President Trump. The animals deserve better.

    Ken’s email is kengorrell@gmail.com

  • First Runs at Bretton Woods

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

    By Amy PatenaudeSki/Outdoor Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Amy Patenaude is an avid skier/outdoor enthusiast from Henniker, N.H. Readers are welcome to send  comments or suggestions to her at: amy@weirs.com.

  • Wet Waterville Valley Walking

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


    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

    Amy Patenaude is an avid skier/outdoor enthusiast from Henniker, N.H. Readers are welcome to send comments or suggestions to her at: amy@weirs.com.