Epic spring ski season

What started off as a lackluster season in New England with only one major storm in December and January has turned in to one for the record books.  Back to back to back dumpings in February and into March have given us some top notch conditions to keep enjoying even into April. 14 - 29I am fortunate that when camp is not in session I am able to get out and have some fun in the outdoors almost any day.  On the above day last week there were limitless blue skies and great snow at Loon Mountain.  The deep blue of the horizon contrasted nicely with the still snowy peaks of the surrounding mountains; including Mt. Washington in the distance.

loonmtnThe snow was not fresh but it was fast and not too soft from all the sun.  Wide open, empty trails made for a day where I was able to pack 30+ runs in with no time wasted on lift lines.

A few days later we were surprised by yet another spring storm.  Due to all of the fun we had in the woods I only have one picture from the day.


It was heavy and wet but it set the mountains up for another few weeks of great conditions.

On April 1 I set out for Waterville Valley for their infamous $1 lift ticket April Fools Day.

watervilleliftTalk about ideal conditions.  April 1st gave us a thick base of snow, a cloudless sky, and 60 degrees.

photo 3All that perfection mixed with practically free lift tickets made for some crowds...at least in the morning.  By lunch time all the riff-raff had had their fill and the mountain cleared out.

topofwatervilleThe above picture is from the top of Waterville (Mt. Tecumseh) looking down at the lower mountain and the town of Waterville Valley below.

photo 4That is me in the blue coat, taking in the view before dropping in for another lap.  No complaints from that guy!

Here is to a few more killer days on the slopes and then a quick spring thaw so we can toss the boat in the water!

NH adventure weekend part 2

Day 2 of the NH adventure weekend was to magnificent Mt. Washington.  Mt. Washington is the highest mountain in New Hampshire and its snow-capped peak is visible from all over the state.  I have hiked to the summit on numerous occasions but have never had the opportunity to snowboard its slopes and trails. We decided bright and early that it was a perfect day to hike up the mountain and scope out conditions on Tuckerman's Ravine, an infamous backcountry destination.

P1030718Setting out early in the morning from the Pinkham Notch center, the trail was easy work even while lugging up our gear.

P1030721With such a perfect day for hiking we came across a few other groups making their way up or down.  Carrying my board horizontal seemed like a good idea when we set off but in practice it ended up annoying everyone we passed along the way.  "Pardon me, board coming through."

We made it up to the caretaker's cabin below Tuckerman's Ravine and chilled for a while and chatted with other hikers.

Hmm, something is missing here.

P1030724P1030723The avalanche board did not explicitly tell us not to proceed but a park ranger and some other climbers did not think it would be a good idea to ski Tuck's that day.  Lots of variable weather and snowfall had left sections unstable and we were not experienced enough to navigate the terrain safely.

So we took in the scenery, marveled at the grandeur of the mountain, and strapped on boards and skis for the return trip.  The Sherburne Trail was our ticket home.

P1030734We dropped in to the trail and sped away.  Conditions were OK, a bit crusty and skied-off but nothing too terrible.  After hiking all morning with heavy packs we definitely earned our turns.

A sweet shot looking back up the Sherburne Trail.

The trail was wide, open, sunny, and empty.

Looking down and across the street to Wildcat ski area.

All in all a great way to spend a NH weekend.

Need advice on hiking/skiing/snowboarding in NH?  Hit me up any time.

617-855-WAKE (9253)




Winter at Merrymeeting Lake

Living at the lake year round is something I have enjoyed for the past five or so years.  Each season is fun in its own way and winter happens to be a great time to be up here.  As the weather gets cooler each year I put away all the summer gear and board shorts and dust off my snowboard, crampons, snowshoes, and heavy clothing.  This winter we have not had the huge amounts of snow that we received in previous years but there have been ample opportunities for fun in/on the frozen water (snow/ice). The smooth, solid ice on a crisp, clear, winter day.

The above picture was the ice a week and a half ago before a series of large snow storms.  As you walk along the lake the ice is constantly "talking".  Sometimes it sounds like a whale call as the water under the thick ice circulates and the ice mass shifts.  Other times you hear explosions and shattering ice which, I am told, is the sound of the ice expanding and getting stronger, not the other, intuitive explanation that the entire surface you are walking on is about to implode and send you in to the freezing water.

Intricate patterns within the frozen water.

Looks like outer space.

As I continued to explore the ice that day I found countless areas with cool and complex designs frozen under the surface of the ice. I stopped at many of them to get down and inspect closely.  The picture to the left shows thousands of mini air bubbles frozen in time until the ice thaws in a couple of months.  Below, I found one large frozen anomaly in the ice with thousands of little offshoots.  It could almost be a picture from outer space with the dark background the blackness of space and the little bubbles the passing stars.

Soon after my day on the ice we got some much needed snow.  It blanketed every road, tree, house, and frozen lake in NH and I was all too willing to toss my snowboard in the car and hit the slopes.

My happy place; perched above Merrymeeting Lake

As the fresh snow got packed down and skiied off at the mountain ski resorts in New England I searched for fresh, untracked snow in less trafficked spots.  Luckily behind my house on the lake is Mt. Molly, a small peak with a number of trails over a few hundred acres.  I trekked up to the peak where, at my favorite rock outcropping, I took the above picture of the snow and the mountains in the distance.  Panning to the left reveals Merrymeeting Lake, still frozen but covered now in some deep, fluffy snow.

Looking out at Merrymeeting Lake

The winter is far from over and I am looking forward to lots more snowy fun.  We at Water Monkey hope that everyone is out enjoying their winter months as much as we are.

Top 5: Types of snow for riding

Just because there is not too much snowboarding to be done this winter does not mean I can't talk about it!  I hit up Sunday River this past Saturday and, while most of the snow was man-made, it actually was not too bad for one day of shredding.  While riding around their multiple peaks I assembled in my head a ranking of the different types a snow you could encounter while riding. Here is my ranking which is by no means a universal standard, just what I like!

Top 5: Types of snow for riding

  1. Pow!- Powder is by far my favorite condition to encounter while riding and, to me, the more the better!  Last season I was fortunate to be at Squaw Valley, in Tahoe, for a 100" storm.  Each day was better than the one before.  There is nothing like riding through waist or chest deep, light, fluffy, powder.  In the northeast we are lucky if we get a handful of pow days a season but we definitely know how to take advantage of them when they come!  The best spot in New England for finding pow is indisputably Jay Peak, located in the far north in Vermont.

  2. Spring Slush - Like I said, this is not a universal ranking, just my preferences.  Maybe it's the spring temperatures and riding in a t-shirt that sways my emotions, but I love spring conditions.  As the mountains start to thaw you can usually ride all day on a nice layer of wet snow.  It is great for throwing hacks, surf style, and is pretty forgiving when you are in the park and take a spill.  You will get wet, this stuff is notorious for making its way through even the most waterproof of outerwear, but luckily it will be sunny and warm!
  3. Man-made/granular - If I can't have natural powder I can deal with some man-made stuff.  Some resorts have perfected the art of producing snow and can create relatively light, nice snow for riding.  I guess I would include "cord" in this category, for corduroy, or freshly groomed by a snowcat.  I'd rather the mountains never groom but they have to try to keep the snow down somehow.
  4. Crusty/hard-pack - We get a lot of this on the east coast.  It may not snow for a few weeks and what is left is a windblown, over-groomed, sun-baked surface.
  5. Ice - It is often said that if you learn to ski/ride in the northeast you can do it anywhere in the world.  Seasons spent scraping down the sides of mountains perfect your edge skills and harden you physically through countless falls onto the rock hard ice.  When riding backcountry in New England it is overwhelmingly likely that you will spend the entire day on ice unless you happen to find some pow (see #1).

Those are my thoughts for the day...here's to powder!