Try Again

Doug searching for a line containing maximal snow 
Even though earlier in the week I had retired my skis for the season after a recent trip north, it did not take much for Doug to convince me to try one more day of skiing.  While the plan was to ski, we both packed a contingency plan consisting of a crash pad, rock shoes, and chalk figuring we could boulder at Rumney if the conditions were really grim.  Meeting at exit two in New Hampshire we realized our contingency plan was probably busted as the weather was producing a steady shower of rain. 

Tecumseh’s summit, March 24th

“Yes!”  I said excitedly to Doug as he informed me that Waterville Valley had decided to close Sunday.  Thinking back on this moment I realize how strangely wired my brain is, as I am one of the few people headed north to ski that becomes excited by the prospect of the mountain closing.  That being said, it seemed as if I had stared into a crystal ball earlier in the week; when asked about the conditions at Waterville, I replied it would be pretty nice if they closed soon.  While the mountain’s resort skiing potential was fading fast, the mountain did contain some large, well-covered snowfields that held lots of potential for people willing to skin up them.  Even more potential if you removed ski patrol and downhill traffic.

Ashley and Tim in same spot as previous picture only two weeks earlier
The decision was made and we pointed the car in the direction of Waterville.  Pulling into the parking lot, the mountain looked even more bare than when I had been there earlier in the week.  With the exception of some employees milling around the base of the mountain, we seemed to have the place to ourselves…which was just how we wanted it.  In order to not arouse any suspicion about our intentions, we carefully skulked onto the Mount Tecumseh trail (it abuts the ski resort, intersecting with the resort at a few junctions along the way and eventually ascending Mount Tecumseh).

Tim getting ready for a potentail final run of the season

We climbed the Mount Tecumseh trail with skis on our backs to the first junction with the resort where we decided against a mere day of running laps on the snowfields and decided to head to the summit.  For roughly the entire hike, the trail seemed more springlike than wintry as we hiked through intermittent rain, and wet trails with only faint remnants of snow hiding in the woods to remind us of winters recent demise.  Only above the Sosman Trail did we encounter much snow.  We quickly made the summit, where any views were hidden by low-hanging clouds sitting in the valley.  

Sosman Trail Sunday March 24th 
Making our way across the Sosman to the top of Waterville ski area we were pleased to discover that the low-hanging clouds also covered the resort, concealing our presence from anyone watching from the bottom. We skied over some thin patches (I have a couple nice gouges in my skis from the “thin” sections) while linking some snow fields and enjoying snow softened by the warm weather and recent showers.  I find something very pleasing about skiing at an empty resort, like you know something that no one else knows about yet.  It is especially pleasing to enjoy a mountain’s terrain while only sharing it with a friend or two.       

Sosman Trail, two weeks prior to previous picture
Stopping halfway down the mountain and still concealed by the clouds, we donned skins and headed up to savor another run on the soft spring snow.  Heading up on a trail adjacent to the one we descended, we were pleased to discover what seemed to be the best looking run on the mountain.  In spite of the constant drizzle, we took two laps on what we determined was the best run on the mountain before tired legs, wet gear, and a hunger for something other than energy bars and gels led us toward the car and dry clothes. Quickly sneaking through the base area, we made it to the car without incident and happy to know that we were able to add an extra day to our ski season. 

Doug psyched to be done hiking and ready to ski on Mount Tecumseh’s summit