When the air temperature is sitting in the “it’s really, really cold” range, the skiers’ in the know head to one of the myriad of cross country ski trails around the Mount Washington Valley. The current cold weather pattern found us heading to the groomed trails in Jackson. Groomed packed-powder snow awaited us as did friends we had agreed to meet at the Woodchuck Fields parking lot on Carter Notch Road. This trail access point is a great choice for those just trying out xc skiing for the first time. The tracks wander between Eagle Mountain and the shortest federally-designated Wild and Scenic Wildcat River lead from your parked car on flat terrain.
The day we skied, the sun was shining in the early January azure sky but didn’t add much warmth. Dressed appropriately, we enjoyed the company of fellow skiers and the extraordinary vistas. The tracks lead gently down-river to the Eagle Mountain Fields where one accesses Jackson’s international competition trails. These trails provide challenge but are manageable for anyone who is comfortable controlling downhill speed. Vistas of the high Presidential range are afforded from several natural resting spots along these roller-coaster trails.
One can spend several hours exploring the trails with destinations of the Shovel Handle Pub, Christmas Farm or Eagle Mountain House eateries available for a warm mug-up or lunch.
A couple days later in even colder weather we returned with our snowshoes and trekked out to the Cocoa Cabin on the intimate snowshoe trails that wander along the Ellis River across interesting terrain left by the receding glaciers 12000 years ago.
So when the temps are chilly and the wind is up, choosing warmer Nordic and snowshoe options allows one to be outside and still be comfortable.
Get it while you can was the watch word on the slopes on Sat. Jan. 9, 2016, as I was joined by a few thousand of my closest friends at Bretton Woods. The “R” word was in the forecast for Sunday, but Saturday it was nothing but the groomed white stuff as far as the eye could see, including on the cloud-dodging Mount Washington across the notch. With over 100 acres of skiing available, Bretton Woods had an impressive snow surface laid down considering the complete lack of cooperation by Mother Nature so far this winter. It was easily the best conditions of the year to date.
Bode’s Run was open this week to great applause – the Rosebrook Summit Express Quad is now turning for the season. The Rosebrook is a favorite for those of us who like to slam out a multitude of short, fast runs on BW’s steeper terrain. We can pray to the ski gods that soon enough the trail network on skiers left of that lift pod will open soon, as it features arguably some of the best glades in the East. I spent many a weekend on their Telegraph T-Bar and cozy warming cabin in between tree runs last year and I am counting on hitting them again later this month.
The Eastern Inter-Club Ski League (http://www.eicsl.org/) was enjoying a group outing and ski race on Saturday. They are an organization of ski clubs of New Hampshire and Massachusetts, most with ski lodges in the Mount Washington Valley area. The clubs offer year-round sporting and social activities individually and through the league in addition to skiing and winter outings. They all seemed to be enjoying the conditions and each other’s company both in the lodge and on the slopes.
While the weekend did not end as any of us would have liked, rest assured that colder temps are in the forecast later this week and Bretton Woods’ snowmakers will be at it again. Don’t think that one rain event undoes the good work they’ve already laid down. Savvy snowmakers often blow snow on closed trails and leave it ungroomed until after bad weather passes. This gives water time to drain, and allows for fresh grooming of those snow whales you often see on unopened terrain. Keep your fingers crossed that you’ll see those trails opened in time for next weekend. Until then, stay dry and keep up with the snow dancing.