Glade Runner

Looks like the snow gods decided to save the best for last this winter, as storm after storm has hit Mount Washington Valley and its many ski areas. With the snow comes the best time of year to go tree skiing, hitting the glades last weekend with friends.

I got warmed up at Bretton Woods on Saturday. They have been measuring new snowfall with a yardstick lately and their woods were still full of powder, some untracked, several days after the last storm. We headed over to West Mountain and took the Wambek trail down to the double black diamond Maple Woods. Last time I skied it a year ago, conditions were a bit bony, but not this time. It was steep and deep and there were no wrong turns in the Woods. Other favs on West Mountain included Wild West Glade – an wider glade than others at BW; Cherry Mountain Slide; and Peppersass. Those last two are also on the easier side, although both ranked as black diamonds. Cliff’s Cliff  glade was a little too cliffy for me so I skipped that and we headed over to Mount Rosebrook Glades.

My husband has been avoiding bumps and trees after some recent back issues, but we took a gentle run together down the blue square Black Forest Glade. It was fun and no one got hurt.

Next we went to Mount Stickney and its wonderful dedicated t-bar lift and rustic warming cabin at the top. Multiple choices await you for glades, numbered 1 through 4. It’s a great way to get in multiple lift-serviced tree runs with snack breaks in between.

Sunday I took my game up a notch and did a car drop at the end of Carter Notch Road in Jackson, and then headed with a friend to Wildcat Mountain to hit the beloved Wildcat Valley Trail. This trail has some of the longest vertical of any ski trail in North America, but you have to come prepared. Step 1, do the car drop unless you want to hitchhike back from the Carter Notch. Step 2, bring backcountry gear including some form of free heel skis and bindings. There is enough uphill on this trail to make you regret dropping in on regular alpine gear.

The opening cornice is just daunting enough to scare away curious alpine skiers who might not understand this is truly a backcountry experience. If that doesn’t scare you off, the signage stating the facts will. This trail does not return to the ski area.

It was buried in snow and other skiers had already done the harder work of packing it down for us, although powder was abundant if your pole or ski wandered off a bit. If you love S curves, single track and birch glades, this trail is for you.

Two hours from the summit, we made it to the groomed nordic trails of Jackson, and after a long slog of flat and sometimes ascending terrain, we were back at our car where we had a late lunch and finished our hot coco.

Back to Wildcat and being gluttons for punishment, we ran laps on the high speed quad until our legs burnt out and we called it a day. It was a weary ride home and an early bed time but it was worth it.

They say the trick to skiing glades is to look at the spaces between the trees and not to look at the obstacles. I’d say that’s good advice for all aspects of life.


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