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New Hampshire February 2017--Cannon, Bretton Woods, Snowmobiling, and my wife's first experience with snow

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

We flew into Manchester, NH airport around midnight on Tuesday night the 7th and got a hotel room there in Manchester. Wednesday morning still not a ski day, with getting in late and needing to make a few stops on the way it was almost dinner time until we got up to northern NH. It was also special for me because it was my wife's first experience with snow. My wife is Costa Rican and we live most the year in Costa Rica. She'd never experienced sub-freezing temperatures before (and she was thrown right into the fire metaphorically speaking with temperatures hovering around or below zero the first few days there). 


Mt. Washington


We closed out the first day of the trip with some great pizza and beer at a place in Littleton, NH called Schillings. If you're going to be skiing in Northern New Hampshire I'd highly recommend heading up there. They've got some great pizza and amazing beers (including a barrel aged porter that's finished in Whistle Pig whisky barrels). 




Thursday February 9th 

Thursday morning started off looking good. When we woke up snow was falling, my wife jumped out of bed and practically ran outside to see her first snowfall. 


First Snowfall


From there we headed over to Cannon Mountain for their 2 for 1 Thursday lift tickets (great deal that they run almost every Thursday by the way). My first run I was planning to finally get to check out the Mittersill area of Cannon. There is a more detailed history here, but the short story is that an Austrian Baron fled the Germans in the late 30's an built a ski chalet in New Hampshire to live in. The ski resort closed in 1984, but was re-opened by Cannon as backcountry terrain in 2009 and a double chair was added for 2011. Unfortunately bad timing or bad weather always had it closed the last couple times I'd been to Cannon, but this time it was finally open! ...or so I thought. 


I went to the top of the mountain and went to ski down the Taft Slalom Trail. I remember reading at the New England Ski History musuem that it was the first purpose cut ski alpine ski trail in North America, but I've not been able to find anything online to support that. Maybe someone like @Laurel Hill Crazie or @Seth Masia would know if my memory is correct or not. As a huge fan of history I thought that was really cool. I even braved the sub-zero temperatures to take a selfie:




Now the or I thought part. On the website and on the map they have posted in the lodge the trail along the ridge to Mittersill is open and groomed. I got to the bottom of Taft Slalom to find the access to Mittersill roped off and the trail downhill also roped off (Upper Hardscrabble). Another guy got there at the same time as us. We were left with two options 1) Hike back up the trail or 2) Ski down a closed trail. I won't admit to any wrongs, all I'll say is that neither of us were in the mood for hiking. Upper Hardscrabble has been closed for a few weeks and thus not been groomed. There was lots of chunks of ice and wind-blown stuff.


From there I skied down to the bottom and met up with my wife and my mother to help my wife go on her first run over in the Tuckerbrook learning area. I didn't get a lot of video of her actually skiing, but she did very well. She only fell three times during a couple hours of skiing, it just so happens that the one video I did get was her falling. 




She was a good sport about it though. After one run with her I left her with my mom for them to meet up with the instructor for the learn to ski lesson and I headed off to the Front Five of Cannon. With a couple inches on top of a rain event it was skiing surprisingly well. In fact the Black Diamonds were skiing easier than the blues because the blues were a bit more wind-swept whereas the blacks were steeper but had very good snow. I worked my way across all the Front Five lapping the Zoomer chair. My quest to ski Mittersill wasn't over yet. I rode with a guy on the Front Five who told me that you could get over to Mittersill through a little cut over off the learning area and that the lift was running. 


So I managed to get over to Mittersill and skied the only open run that was running off the double chair. It was pretty choppy and icy having not been groomed after the rain they got on Tuesday night, but there are some very beautiful views over there. Sadly at this point I could barely feel my fingers or toes so I didn't have it in me to get my camera out. I headed in to warm up a bit and happened to see my wife making her way down the hill. I couldn't get the camera out in time to get much, but after a couple runs she was progressing:





Friday February 10th

Friday we were off to ski at Bretton Woods to meet up with a family friend and do some skiing there. My day got off to a slow start though because I ended up having to rent gear. I loaded up the boot bags as my dad loaded up the skis at Cannon on Thursday. Somehow he grabbed a pair of skis that weren't mine so when I opened up the truck hatch on Friday morning, no skis. (Good news is he drove down to Cannon and my skis were there at guest services; the person who's skis he accidentally stole was a local who said they were sure they got grabbed by accident because no one would steal those skis. They got theirs back and I got mine back). So I ended up having to rent a pair of demo skis at Bretton Woods, but it was nice to try something different than my K2's. 


I was excited to be able to check out the new glade system they've been opening over on Mt Stickney (left side of the trail map). I skied the glades there before when they just had started cutting them, but getting there was complicated. It involved riding two lifts and a fair bit of traversing. Now they've put in a T-Bar in the glade system so you can just hang out there and run the glades. It's a very nice area and with a few inches of fresh snow on top it was really great skiing:


Mt. Stickney Glades



The temperatures at Cannon on Thursday looked absolutely balmy by comparison with how cold it was at Bretton Woods on Friday. The temperature was 1 degree at the base and -6 at the summit. They didn't have wind numbers available on the site, but the lifties told me the windchill was -28 at the base and with the wind blowing even harder and being colder up top I think the windchill was around -45 F. It was brutally cold. I think this is the first time I've been warmer on the lift than skiing because it was blowing up the trails so on the lift it was hitting just my back, but skiing down it was blowing through the vents on my goggles and making my eyes water and making any exposed skin sting almost instantly. So with those temperature I have almost no pictures from Friday other than the one I took above. Even that one which I had my hand out for only a few seconds I regretted. 


Saturday February 11th

We were staying with some friends outside of Groveton, NH on Friday and Saturday night and doing some snowmobiling with them. It was actually pretty cool, our friends run a logging business and I found out in talking to him that he cut most the trails on the west side of Bretton Woods. With more and more snow and cold temperatures the weather was great for snowmobiling. Unfortunately we spent most the day running errands because my dad's pickup truck had a wheel bearing go bad so we were tracking that down and a neighbor happened to be a mechanic so he fixed it for us on a Saturday afternoon. Did get some riding in though and I even saw a snow owl, it flew right in front of me! 


My wife makes a mean snowball


Short video of me coming back in from the woods on the sled. 


Sunday February 12th

Sunday brought the end of this ski trip to NH and a drive back to Pennsylvania. Planning to do some more skiing here in PA, but we had just about perfect weather and good conditions for a great couple days of skiing and other outdoor activities. The drive home through the snow was slow going (and painful leaving the snow behind instead of staying to ski in it), but we made it home safely. Until next time New Hampshire. 


post #2 of 8

The first ski trails cut in New England were started in 1927 in New Hampshire's Wapack Range, in 1927, by the Appalachian Mountain Club. The Taft trail was the first trail cut by the Civilian Conservation Corps at Cannon Mountain, starting in 1932. 

post #3 of 8

@Seth Masia the CCC was not established until 1933. I thought The Bruce on Mansfield was the first CCC cut trail. Wasn't Taft started as a private endeavor lead by Katharine Peckett then finished by the CCC?

post #4 of 8

You're right, work on the Taft Trail began in 1932, privately funded by Kate Peckett, and it was first skied that winter. The CCC was founded in the spring of 1933 and the first crew arrived in New Hampshire at the end of May. CCC teams completed the work and the first races were held in the fall of 1933.


Jeff Leich of the New England Ski Museum put together an excellent timeline, including long quotes from contemporary sources, on the history of the CCC in building New Hampshire trails.  See http://newenglandskimuseum.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/ccc_timeline.pdf

post #5 of 8

Sorry to hijack your thread, Tyler. I enjoyed your report and now I want to ski Bretton Woods' glades and riding a T-bar is a part of the attraction. Is Nancy coming along with you and your brother? Are you still planning to ski Laurel or will the long ride here end at Blue Knob instead? Did you know that Otto Schniebs laid out the trails at Blue Knob. Imagine that, who would have ever thought that "The Father of American Skiing" and "The Father of Alpine Skiing" would end up in Pennsylvania laying out ski trails on small mountains? Small world, small industry, I guess. I hope to see you Friday. Check you PMs,

post #6 of 8

Hey, Tyler, I wish I had known you were here.  I was at Bretton Woods on Thursday and at Cannon Fri, Sat, and Sun.

Let me know when you come back.  We can take some turns together.

post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post

Hey, Tyler, I wish I had known you were here.  I was at Bretton Woods on Thursday and at Cannon Fri, Sat, and Sun.

Let me know when you come back.  We can take some turns together.


Ah bummer, I'd posted something the in get togethers forum but didn't get any responses. How'd you survive the cold at Cannon on Friday? BW isn't normally windy and even there it was a stiff breeze, can only imagine what it was like in the notch. 

post #8 of 8

On Friday (-5 degrees F to +5 degrees F, plus a hefty wind blowing) a bus load of technical workers from Boston arrived for never-ever lessons.  Many were in borrowed clothes, several had sunglasses instead of goggles, most did not have anything around their necks, and their gloves/mittens were adequate to pathetic.  They were clueless.  Their employer had generously provided a day on the slopes for them all and the date had been set a long time ago.  Their lesson was in the morning.  We muddled ahead as best we could.  In the afternoon I had a private with a cautious woman wanting to gain confidence.  We had a good time but stayed down below on easy terrain.  


I did not get cold during either of these 1 1/2 hour lessons; I cover up densely.  But in between I sat in the lodge doing nothing.  I did not take a free run all day.  We've had several days that cold (temps ranging from below zero Farenheit to lower single digits, with notable wind).  I am getting tired of them. 


PM me whenever you come this way.  We'll get the timing right next time.

Edited by LiquidFeet - 2/21/17 at 7:02am
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