Category Archives: Weekend Warriors

2017 Ski, Shoe & Fatbike to the Clouds: North America’s Toughest 10K Proved To Be This Winter’s Stand-Out Event

Written By Crispin Battles, Marketing Director
Mt. Washington Auto Road & Great Glen Trails

Pinkham Notch, NH — Since the Mt. Washington Auto Road first opened in 1861, it has been a proving ground for all types of adventurers. Throughout the years, many have secured their place in the history of the Auto Road, be it with a fastest time, or a landmark ascent.

History was made again with the 2017 Ski, Shoe & Fatbike to the Clouds. Held in cold, blue-sky conditions on March 5, it marked the first time that fatbikers have joined this annual winter event. First held in 1996 as Ski to the Clouds, it quickly proved to be a new and unique challenge for Nordic skiers, and at that time was held entirely on the Auto Road. In later years it was modified to increase the race distance to 10 kilometers, utilizing the Great Glen Trails Nordic system for the first four kilometers, before beginning the steep ascent up the Mt. Washington Auto Road. The race finishes just before the halfway point of the Auto Road at about 3,800 feet.

In 2013, a separate snowshoe category was added to entice snowshoe racers to take up the challenge, and was so successful that in 2014 the event was renamed as Ski & Shoe to the Clouds. In 2016, a new fatbike category was added, which quickly became the largest group of racers, but was sadly cancelled due to lack of snow.

Mother Nature was kind to us this year, and the 2017 event was attended by 120 racers in three disciplines–18 Nordic skiers, 33 snowshoers, and 69 fatbikers. Whether on skis, snowshoes or fatbikes, the race lived up to its reputation as North America’s Toughest 10K, testing the racers as only Mount Washington can.

The fastest time was posted by veteran racer Tristan Williams, with a blazing time of just 48 minutes 37 seconds, winning the men’s Nordic division. Tristan was closely followed by fatbiker Jeremiah Macrae-Hawkins, winning the men’s fatbike division with a time of 50 minutes 37 seconds–the second fastest time on course. Kudos to all the racers who battled the Mountain and finished, but particularly to the winners of each division:

Men’s Nordic Tristan Williams 48:37
Women’s Nordic Meredith Pietrow 1:01:42
Men’s Snowshoe Andrew Drummond 51:49
Women’s Snowshoe Hilary McCloy 1:05:56
Men’s Fatbike Jeremiah Macrae-Hawkins 50:37
Women’s Fatbike Renee Bousquet 1:12:26

A heartfelt “thank you” goes out to all the event sponsors, who have helped make this annual event such a success. For 2017, those sponsors included Dion Snowshoes, Stan & Dan Sports, Polartec, Littleton Chevrolet, Hannaford, and the Old Village Bakery.

2017 Chili Cook-Off and Feelin’ Good 5K Race

Saturday, April 8th is the time to shake off the winter chills and join us for a fabulous foodie event to kick off our Spring season here in Mt Washington Valley! There will be plenty of chili and cornbread to keep you fueled for a day of fun, festivity, and a 5K race, plus North Conway Village shopping and the event’s  Red Hot Stops where you can find treats and shopping deals.

chili-5k-logoThis is the first year of the Feelin’ Good 5k Race through the White Mountain Milers. Burn some calories before indulging in chili and cornbread samples at the Cook-Off and explore beautiful North Conway Village by running or walking in the race! The race kicks off at Schouler Park in North Conway at 9:30am, where participants will race around the village and near Cranmore Mountain, finishing back at the park. Awards will be given to the top three overall runners and walkers.

The Feelin’ Good 5K is open for registration through White Mountain Milers and the RunReg website. The Race Fee is $35 per person and includes your entry to the Chili Cook-Off, access to the After Party at Abenaki Trail Restaurant, and store discounts at the Red Hot Stops.

Event Schedule:
  • 8:00AM – 5K Registration/Bib pick up
  • 9:15AM – 5K Registration tent is closed
  • 9:30AM- 5K Race begins
  • 10:45AM – Race Award Ceremony
  • 11:00AM – Chili Cook-Off Doors open 
  • 3:00 PM – Chili Cook-Off Ends
  • 4:00PM – Chili Cook-Off After Party & Award Ceremony

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About the Annual Chili Cookoff

Hosted by the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce, the annual Chili Cook-off has featured the culinary creations of professional chefs, individuals, local organizations, and nonprofits for many years. What started with just a few vendors has now grown to more than 40 vendors. Hundreds of hungry chili fans will fill The Village of North Conway tasting the best of the Valley’s chili recipes.

The Many Ways to Enjoy the Day

chili-cookoffThere are so many ways to participate in the fun at the Annual Chili Cook-Off! Professional and non-professional chefs are welcome to register their team for their chance to win fabulous prizes and bragging rights. Chef registration is open and filling up fast! For more information, please review the 2017 Chili Cook-Off Chef Guidelines.

There are a variety of sponsorship opportunities available for businesses to promote their brand. Sponsorship packages vary in cost and exposure and there are packages available for nonprofits. For more information, please review the 2017 Chili Cook-Off Sponsorship Packages document or contact the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce.

chili-cookoff2In this event, ticket holders are judges, too! In purchasing tickets and sampling many delicious chili and cornbread recipes, ticket holders are in control of the “People’s Choice” vote. Ticket holders will receive three different colored tickets for use as ballots – one for Best Chili, one for Best Cornbread, and one for Best Display of Theme.

Event Tickets and More Information

Tickets for the Chili Cook-Off are $15 for adults and $7 for children, with free admission for children under 3. Interested parties may purchase Early Bird tickets by contacting the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce, and tickets will be available on the day of the event for the same prices at the ticket booth.

There are lodging package agreements available for interested lodging properties in the area as well. Contact the Chamber for more information.

For more information on the Chili Cook-Off, visit http://www.mtwashingtonvalley.org, call the Chamber at (877) 948-6867 or (603) 356-5701 or email Visitor Services at visitor@mtwashingtonvalley.org.

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Holiday Traditions on Skis

By Kathy Bennett

I was not raised in a family of skiers. I came by it as an adult and was so smitten I moved to the Valley and never looked back. So skiing was not a part of my family’s traditions growing up. But I’ve done my best to make it part of my own family’s new tradition to squeeze as much skiing as possible into my holidays.

Here’s a tip to remember for next winter – the slopes and trails are decidedly less crowded on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Compared to the crowds that come up starting December 26, you’ll do well to enjoy the time to yourself before everyone else arrives.

Christmas Eve Day I took to the trails of MWV Ski Touring Foundation’s Whitaker Woods in Conway with my husband. This year’s snow conditions are off to a wonderful start and the packed powder snow surfaces were well groomed. We even had a chance to chat with a groomer who was out doing a mid-day groom. This was our first day out on Nordic skis so we took it easy and stayed on the easier flatter terrain, going from the Whitaker House out to the Intervale Crossroads and back, cutting across the Power Line trail and then out to a trail paralleling the train tracks. It’s fun living in a town like Conway where skiing literally and figuratively connects neighborhoods. Why go further north when there’s such a nice network of trails so close to everything.

The MWV Ski Touring trails link many of the inns, hotels and restaurants in and around North Conway and Intervale including the Stonehurst Manor, 1785 House, all the way north to Tuckerman’s Tavern. Its terminus in the Village is walking distance to all of North Conway’s little shops and restaurants. Make like a local and finish up your day of ski touring and walk into town for a Maple Latte at Frontisde Grind. No one will mind your cross country ski boots.

Christmas Day, after a hearty breakfast at home and a whirlwind of opening gifts, we headed to Bretton Woods, one of several areas open on the holiday. If you are thinking ahead to next year, be sure to call ahead as not every area operates. To make the day even sweeter, Bretton Woods was offering a $30 lift tickets, so we had plenty of company on the slopes, but still decidedly less than a typical holiday date. They had been going at it with the snow making since our visit last week and also benefited from natural snowfall off and on all week – another gift for holiday skiers this week. There were even a few natural snow trails open already, which were fun to try out in the still-fresh powder. Watch out for their infamous early-season water-bars and whoop-de-doos on those ungroomed beauties and you’ll have a good time without taking any spills. A welcome break at their mid-mountain lodge allowed us to drink in both the spectacular views as well as a whipped cream topped hot mocha.

While Christmas Week is a holiday period, it is a school-break timeframe that is less frantic here than those that come later this winter. Now is a good time to take a lesson, and spend time with the kids on the bunny slope. Then figure out a way to head north a few days earlier next December to build a new Christmas tradition for your friends and family, if you haven’t already made it a habit. I’m glad I did.

Strong Start to the 2016-17 Ski Season

By Kathy Bennett

Skiing on Sat. 12/17 at Wildcat Mountain was spectacular, and not just because of the 7+ inches of new snow that fell throughout the day. Santa showed up to take a few turns in the powder along with the hundreds of delighted skiers reveling in what was possible the best ski conditions in 2 years.

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Not only did Wildcat offer trails blanketed with both man made and natural snow, groomed to perfect, they had many “natural” snow trails open that were left ungroomed. That’s a gift even Santa can’t top, although he could clearly be seen ripping it up on both the groomed and ungroomed terrain, clutching his jolly red hat as brisk winds raked the mountains and blew the snowflakes about.

It was a great to ski powder conditions and gentle bumps from the summit right down to the base area on trails like Lift Lion, Upper and Middle Wildcat, then down to Bobcat and Alley Cat. When my legs burned out I skied laps under the Bobcat Triple Chair – which also was a welcome respite from the high winds buffeting the Quad.

Beginner and novice skiers also lucked out as Polecat – one of the longest “green” trails anywhere – was open from the summit.  Long, groomed and topped with fresh pow-pow, it gives new and seasoned skiers alike a treat.

Skiing in a snowstorm presents some challenges but ones that are well worth overcoming for the treat of an ever-refreshing fresh powder surface. Saturday delivered classic Wildcat “everything but the kitchen sink” weather – cold (7 degrees when I pulled into the parking lot); wind (reported gusts of over 30mph) and pelting snow. Make like a boy scout and come prepared. Goggles, waterproof mittens, multiple fleece layers, neck gator, face mask, foot and hand warmers – check check check and check. Take breaks to warm up and dry off. I always try to bring a change of certain items – like fleece neck gators – which can become drenched after a few hours. Don’t let bad clothing get in the way of a great day of skiing. Frostbite warnings be damned – dress for it and you can enjoy a full day in the outdoors relishing whatever comes at you!

All local ski areas in the Valley are now open and this Christmas Vacation Week is looking to be a corker with conditions that are a far cry from last winter’s drought. Make your ski and stay lodging reservations right now as many properties will sell out in advance. Not a skier? Never fear – North Conway has something for everyone including snow tubing, ice skating, shopping, arts, culture, foodie adventures and more. Check it all out on our website – www.mtwashingtonvalley.org.

2016 MUD BOWL TO CELEBRATE THEME OF “ANIMATION! IT ALL STARTED WITH MUD!” SEPT. 9-11, 2016

Mud Bowl, the championships of mud football, will celebrate a theme of “Animation! It All Started with Mud”as part of Mud Bowl Weekend, Sept. 9 through 11.

The theme will be used by participants in the team and the open class for the 34th  Tournament of Mud Parade, set for North Conway Village’s Main Street Saturday, Sept. 10, at 10 a.m. Look for teams to play with such themes as “Mud Minions,” “Frozen Mud,” “The Lion (Mud) King,” “Muddy Toy Story,” ,”Muddy Monsters, Inc.,” “Mud Duck Tales” and “A Muddy Tribute to Walt Disney.”

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Sponsored by Amoskeag Beverages of Bow, overall sponsors of Mud Bowl, the parade also features an open class.

Games in the double-elimination tourney are played at Steve Eastman Memorial Field at Hog Coliseum  Friday through Sunday, with the finals on Sunday. Cheerleaders, kids activities and food are featured.

Proceeds benefit local charities, with more than $870,000 having been raised since the first games were played locally in 1976. The games feature two-hand touch football, played in knee-deep mud, with seven players per side.

Ten teams from throughout New England play, including the defending 19-time champion Muddas Football Club of Amherst, N.H., who defeated seven-time defending champion Nashua Mud Gumbys of Nashua, N.H., 2-0, in the lowest-scoring finals ever.

Other teams include the hometown 11-time champion Mount Washington Valley Hogs and the 2013-champion North Country Crocs.

Other squads include the Carrabassett Valley Rats of Kingfield, Maine, originators of the sport of mud football back in 1972; the 2005 champion North Shore Mudsharks of Beverly, Mass.; the 2001 champion Mudcats of Franklin, N.H.; the Cumberland Muckaneers of Cumberland, R.I.; the the Mud Ducks of Rowley, Mass.; and Jack’s Predators of Peabody, Mass.

ADVANCE TICKETS

Three-day tickets are $15; day tickets are $6 ages 14 and up, and $4 ages 6 to 13; family tickets (two adults, two children) are $15 per day. Advance tickets can be purchased at the North Conway Community Center, the Vaughan Learning Center (formerly known as North  Conway Day Care), Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce, all in North Conway, and Home Run Sports Training Center on Hobbs Street in Conway.

Three-day tickets serve as entry to two $500 prize drawings held Saturday and Sunday (one need not be present to win).

For further information, call Ryan Sommer at the North Conway Community Center at (603) 356-2096 (northconwaycommunitycenter.org), or the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce at (603) 356-5701. You may also follow them on Facebook at Mt. Washington Valley Mud Bowl or at Mud-Bowl.org

Coming in July to Remick Country Doctor Museum & Farm

DAILY ACTIVITIES & TOURS. Monday–Friday 9 a.m.–5 p.m. & Saturday 9 a.m.–4 p.m., through September 3. Lunch available Tue. & Wed.: July 5–Aug. 31. Call/see website for details!

OUTDOOR WALKS with Carol Felice, Museum Educator/Herbalist.  Thursdays: July 7 & 21, 10–11:30 a.m. Walks included with $5 Museum admission. (Does not include access to the Museum.)

MAKING HERBAL PRODUCTS. Part 1: How to Harvest, Dry, & Infuse. Saturday, July 9, 10 a.m.–1:30 p.m. Learn those “how to” steps to easily bring herbal medicine into your life. You will practice the secrets of successful harvesting and drying, make and taste infusions, and take home plant materials and a thorough printed guide. Held outside in both the gardens and under shelter, rain or shine. Bring a lunch. Please call to discuss accessibility needs. $30/participant; ages 16 and above. Registration closes Tuesday, July 5 or when class space is filled.

FIBER ARTS GROUP/DEMONSTRATIONS.  Tuesdays: July 12 & 26, 9:30 a.m.–12 p.m. FREE. (Does not include access to the Museum.).

HOMESTEAD ADVENTURES. THE BUDDING HERBALIST.  Tuesday–Friday, July 12–15, 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Forage for wild edibles, make yummy snacks and useful remedies, and recognize plants by scent, feel and sound. $150/child, ages 9–14. 10% discount for Members. Preregistration required.

HONEYBEE FAMILY DYNAMICS. Tuesday, July 12, 7–8:30 p.m. Join us as Athena Contus of Athena’s Bees and Wonalancet Honey Bee Company, reveals fascinating facts about honey bees, their behavior and biology. Light refreshments will be served. FREE.

HILLSDALE 4-H DAIRY CLUB. Thursday, July 14, 7–9 p.m. FREE.

19TH CENTURY CHILDHOOD. Tuesday–Friday, July 19–22, 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Children will be in costume performing chores, attending school, playing games and completing a handcraft. $150/child, ages 9–14. 10% discount for Members. Preregistration required.

FULL MOON CAMPFIRE & WALK. Tuesday, July 19, 7:30–9 p.m. Join Museum educators outside around a campfire, listen to stories and make s‘mores. When the moon is up we will take a twilight stroll and listen for owls and other nighttime wildlife. Weather dependent: if it is raining this event will not be held. Please dress for the weather and BYO bug spray, and flashlight. $3/person; FREE for Members.

SMALL FARMERS CLUB. “Little House” scenario: A Little Prairie House. Friday, July 22, 10–12 a.m.

$5/child, ages 2–6. Space is limited; pre-registration by Thursday, July 21 is recommended.

MAKING HERBAL PRODUCTS. Part 2: Making Tinctures, Oils & Salves. Saturday, July 23, 10 a.m.–1:30 p.m. Learn those “how to” steps to easily bring herbal medicine into your life. You will harvest medicinal plants from the Remick gardens and make a tincture (extract), an infused medicinal oil, and a salve to take home, along with a thorough printed guide. Held outside in both the gardens and under shelter, rain or shine. Bring a lunch. Please call to discuss accessibility needs. $35/participant; ages 16 and above. Registration closes Tuesday, July 19 or when class space is filled.

ECLECTIC ART.  Tuesday–Friday, July 26–29, 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Participants will be immersed in a variety of art media, including drawing, painting and stenciling. $150/child, ages 9–14. 10% discount for Members. Preregistration required. 603-323-7591.

REMICK TRIVIA NIGHT.  Tuesday, July 26, 7:30–9 p.m. Join us for eclectic, sometimes themed, thought-provoking questions. Gather up a group or form one here. Family friendly and alcohol free. Space is limited, preregistration is required. $3/person; free for members.

For more information call 603-323-7591.

pogo, pillo, polo tournament in north conway

Were you a fan of Wild & Crazy Kids? 80s babies and children of the 90s, rejoice! We’ll be taking a page out of that classic Nickelodeon game show and invite all area nonprofits and school organizations to compete in a 3v3 Pogo Polo Tournament “on the green.”

So what exactly is Pogo Pillo Polo?
Each player will be equipped with a Hopper Ball, ya know, the bouncies with handle on it and a Pillo Stick–that game you used to play in gym class, remember? The game ball will be a giant beach ball and two oversized nets will be at each end. There will be three field players, an no goalies allowed in net.

Check out this video (8:48) for an idea of how the game is played.

Who can compete?
We’ll break things up into three categories*: Kids Play (5-12), Kind of Adults (13-18) and Adults (19+).

This is a great opportunity for sports teams fundraising to buy uniforms, schools raising money for field trips, nonprofits looking for project funds, etc. While we will allow businesses and/or groups of friends/family to compete, we ask that you select a nonprofit or cause to donate your earnings to if your team wins.

It will be a 3v3, double elimination tournament to win up to a $500 donation, directly benefiting the winning nonprofit or elected nonprofit by the team. Teams can have up to six people on a roster, but only three players can be on the field of play.

Kids Play Prize – $100
Kind of Adults Prize – $250
Adults Prize – $500

*Note: Based on participation, the Kind of Adults and Adults categories would possibly compete amongst each other. Kids Play will remain separate, but must have at least 4 teams entered to have a tournament. Team’s will play up a category if it consists of 1 or more members of an old category – For example, if a team has two 12 year olds and a 14 year old, it would play in the Kind of Adults category.

Registration and Rules
Teams must register in advance by Thursday, April 28. A team deposit of $10 is required to register. Each team member will receive a goodie bag at registration on the day of the event that includes a $10 gift certificate for Settlers Green.

REGISTER HERE

FRIENDS OF TUCKERMAN RAVINE TO PRESENT 17TH ANNUAL TUCKERMAN INFERNO ON APRIL 9, 2016

Friends of Tuckerman Ravine, a locally-based non-profit organization, is proud to be staging the 17th Annual Tuckerman Inferno Pentathlon race event on April 9, 2016. Up to 200 athletes will compete for a one thousand dollar cash prize, custom skis, various additional prizes and a chance to become the next Tuckerman or Tuckerwoman champion.

The Tuckerman Inferno Pentathlon, based on the original American Inferno ski races of the 1930’s, now consists of an 8.3-mile run, a 6-mile kayak race down the Saco River, an 18-mile bike race north through Pinkham Notch, and a 3-mile run/hike up the Tuckerman Trail to Mount Washington’s Tuckerman Ravine. The final leg is a climb up to the ravine wall and a ski down a designated giant slalom alpine ski route. During years when conditions permit, skiers may finish at the AMC base at Pinkham Notch.

Spectators are welcome at any and all transition points. At the conclusion of the race, teams will gather at the Wildcat Mountain base lodge for an awards banquet, and prize giveaways.

Friends of Tuckerman Ravine seeks to preserve and protect the unique alpine and sub-alpine eastern slopes of Mount Washington; and to work in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to sustain the traditional uses of the distinctive natural area. FOTR has provided financial support for organizations such as the Mount Washington Avalanche Center and volunteer support for trail maintenance and site rehabilitation projects around the Cutler River Drainage (CRD) on Mount Washington.

In 2015, Friends of Tuckerman Ravine began soliciting donations towards the rebuilding of the iconic outdoor deck structure located at Hermit Lake Shelter located just below Tuckerman Ravine. The deteriorating deck at “HoJo’s”, as it is affectionately called, is a gathering point for thousands of spring skiing fans and was badly in need of repair.

Working in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service, and using proceeds from the 2015 Inferno, FOTR purchased the material for the Deck and transported it to the Ravine via USFS Snowcat in April, 2015. Later in November, construction of the Deck began and over a three-week period, more than 20 volunteers, working under the direction of Snow Ranger Frank Carus were successful in demolishing the old deck and constructing the new one.

Donations and contributions are critical to the success of our the FOTR mission. Memberships begin at $25 per year for students and $35 for individuals.

The group hosts trail maintenance work days throughout the seasons. Volunteers interested in helping out with this year’s Friends of Tuckerman Ravine Inferno Pentathlon or any trail maintenance days are encouraged to call or email with questions. For more information visit http://www.friendsoftuckermanravine.org, call (603) 367-4417 or e-mail office@tuckermanravine.org. Also friend them on Facebook.

King Pine presents Cynthia’s Challenge for Kevin, a 24 hour ski-a-thon

The 24-hour Cynthia’s Challenge Ski-a-Thon will be held at King Pine on March 18-19, 2016 from 4pm to 4pm. This year’s goal is set to raise $45,000 for Kevin’s family to purchase a wheelchair accessible van.

Registration is $99 per person – form a team of 5 and the 5th person is free. Children 8 and under are free! The ticket includes dinner, breakfast, lunch and snacks throughout the night, t-shirt and non-alcoholic drinks throughout the night plus 24 hours of skiing on March 18-19 from 4pm to 4pm.

All proceeds will be donated to the Dall family to purchase the wheelchair van.

Help King Pine raise $45,000 for Kevin!

Annual Girlfriends Spa Weekend at the White Mountain Hotel & Resort

 

The White Mountain Hotel and Resort announces their Annual Girlfriends Spa Weekend.

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This year it’s “Mind, Body & Soul Weekend” and includes:  Two night accommodations, Welcome “Swag Bag”, full breakfast on Saturday morning, Grand Sunday Brunch on Sunday, Dinner off the menu on Saturday evening, A 40-minute massage, Friday Welcome Reception, Cooking Demonstration and Nutritional Presentation on Friday evening, Yoga/Power walk on Saturday Morning, Wellness workshop on Saturday morning, Yoga Class on Sunday morning.

For more information visit @WhiteMtnHotel The White Mountain Hotel & Resort.

#girlsweekend

The Ice Man Cometh

No bad weather – just bad clothing. That’s the adage that any respectable outdoorsperson obeys in northern New England. This weekend was no exception as extreme cold enveloped Mount Washington Valley. However, with proper preparation – and proper clothing – there was no reason not to get out there and enjoy the crisp conditions and blue skies greeting President’s Weekend visitors to local ski areas.

First, a list of must haves for extreme cold weather activities.

–        Layers are key – polypropylene and fleece are a must have. No cotton. Not even a little. Ski socks, long underwear top and bottom, fleece pants, fleece turtleneck. Waterproof/wind proof outerwear. Get the picture? You can always take layers off, but if you don’t pack them, you risk being colder than you have to be.

–        Cover your face and head – Goggles. This is not a time to wear sunglasses. Neck gators. Balaclava. Helmet. Leave the cotton scarves at home.  Conventional wisdom is that you lose 50% of your body heat through your head – so cover your noggin and keep cozy.

–        Hand and foot warmers – The best insurance $2 can buy. Feeling flush? Invest in electronic boot warmers or the newest craze – electronic socks. I still go for the $2 disposable warmers. Buy a case at a big box retailer early in the season and use them liberally.

–        Keep your gear warm and dry – if you are stuffing your feet into boots left in your car overnight, you will never recover. Haul your gear inside each night, dry it out and your toes will thank you the next day.

The best advice for extremely cold weather? Be flexible. Be prepared to change your plans to ensure a good time is had by all. Today it was -28 (air temp) at 7am. It was a great day to sleep in, have a 2nd cup of coffee and hang out at the condo until 11am when temps broke zero.

Flexibility may include changing what you do and where. Nordic skiing is a great choice on a cold day. It keeps you out of the wind and off the lifts, and if you choose trails that wind through the woods, you’ll be even more protected from the elements. Conditions Saturday at Bretton Woods Nordic Center were brisk and brilliant as we glided through the Dark Forest trail. Snowshoeing is another great alternative to get your heart rate up and your blood pumping. Bretton Woods reported brisk snowshoeing rentals this weekend, as families considered alternate activities given the temperatures. Bear Notch Ski Touring is also known for its well protected trails in the woods.

But if downhill skiing is on your agenda no matter what, don’t let the weatherman scare you away. Dress appropriately and gear up, then take these steps to ensure a safe and fun day on the slopes:

–        Consider lower elevation mountains. Cranmore, King Pine and Black Mountain are less exposed than their higher elevation counterparts. This also means their lifts are less likely to be impacted by wind.

–        Stick to lower and mid-mountain lifts. Determined to ski the bigger mountains?  Check out the wind direction and find out which lifts are more sheltered. Today at Attitash, a helpful staff member suggested their Abenaki Quad. Its lift line is surrounded by trees and its sunny exposure makes you (almost) feel the warmth of the sun on your face on the ride uphill.

–        Take frequent breaks. This isn’t the day to see how many runs you can make. If you start feeling cold, come inside before it gets unbearable. Besides, it’s a good excuse to socialize over a hot drink or warm meal. Ptarmigan’s Pub at Attitash had a warm friendly crowd mid-afternoon, a great spot to enjoy an Irish coffee.

–        Be realistic. Are you a first chair to last chair kind of skier? Give yourself a break. Start later in the day, enjoy a leisurely lunch, and head out for the day earlier than usual. You still can claim bragging rights.

–        Enjoy the benefits of being a hardy New Englander. Let those western skiers keep the warm temps and blue skies. Cold weather means shorter lift lines, less crowded parking lots, lots of seats in the lodge, and the sweet, sweet squeak of well below freezing snow beneath your feet. Less skier traffic means conditions stay in better shape later in the day. Attitash was still showing corduroy conditions on certain trails at mid-day thanks to some late lift openings.  Find the silver lining!

Just can’t bring yourself to ski in extreme cold? As they say in New England, if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute. Before you know it, mid-winter cold will be replaced by March sunshine, and this mid-February cold-snap will be a distant memory.

Kathy Bennett

 

The Glory of Glades in Mount Washington Valley

Glades. Trees. Off piste. Backcountry. No matter what you call it, skiing the trees is considered the holy grail by many. The ski areas of Mount Washington Valley offers a wide variety of glades for skiers and riders of all abilities.

Tree skiing is a great idea for lots of reasons, beyond being a heck of a lot of fun. For the terminal intermediate, it challenges you to push beyond your comfort area and try something new. For the expert and advanced skier, it gives you a much more demanding physical workout. For kids, it adds adventure and builds skills you can’t develop on the groomed stuff. And for everyone, it often lets you find powder stashes long after the crowds have scraped it away on the major thoroughfares. And it’s true what they say – aim for the spaces between the trees (not the trees) and you’ll do just fine.

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Winter 2016 so far has been the year of the snowmaker. Thanks to the powerful snowmaking systems of our local ski areas, most are approaching 80-90% open despite Mother Nature’s stinginess. So many might be surprised to discover that some areas are offering tree skiing right now.

Such was the case this weekend at Bretton Woods. Days after fresh snow had fallen, untracked snow could be found on trails such as the Enchanted Bear and Black Forest Glades in the Rosebrook Quad section of the mountain. Both offer fairly forgiving terrain for those just starting to get into the forest. Those looking for a greater challenge could drop into the narrower (and decidedly less forgiving) Roz trail, an ungroomed river run complete with some water crossings and other obstacles. Such is the beauty and surprise that comes with glades. Overall, they offered over 15 glades open this weekend, enough to keep us off-piste for the day. My quads are still burning 2 days later.

Wildcat is known for their (largely unmarked) tree skiing. It is a rite of passage for local skiers to discover glades like the legendary Thompson Brook. Or for a true backcountry experience, bring your tele skiis and ski the Wildcat Valley Trail. This is a 2-3 hour true backcountry expedition that will land you in the Prospect Farm area of Jackson, far beyond the Eagle Mountain House, so be sure to read up on this and plan accordingly.  Hit it on a powder day for best results.  It’s not for snowboarders or regular alpine skis. It’s worth it though as it is essentially the longest glade run you’ll ever experience – 3,245 ft of vertical drop if you take it from the top of Wildcat down to the village of Jackson. Put this on your bucket list.

Cranmore is where I first ventured into the trees. Some are challenging – like the Pipeline Glade. Others are a great choice for kids and first timers, like the Beech Glades off the Outta Luck/Beginner’s Luck trails. The first time you zip through this area you will feel like a rock star and your addiction to tree skiing will begin. Other great options for beginners are King Pine and Black Mountain. Last season I dropped into the trees surrounded by many an ankle-biter, nimbly ducking branches and enjoying the inevitable “woop-dee-doos” that form in the woods.

So when you check into your favorite Mount Washington Valley ski area this winter, check the ski and trail report and see what glade options are available. If you haven’t tried it, it’s time to take the trail less traveled, to paraphrase a great Granite State poet.

Kathy Bennett