New Hampshire’s Mount Cardigan is quickly becoming a backcountry staple for me, thanks in part to its easy access, relative close proximity to home, and mellow ski trails. Throw in a warm cabin (and clean indoor bathroom) at the base and jaw-dropping views from the top, and heading to Mount Cardigan is a no-brainer.
On our last trip to Mount Cardigan, Mickey Spades and I joked that somehow they maintained the dirt road heading toward the AMC lodge better than the roads by his house in southeastern Massachusetts. This past Wednesday, however, the joke was on us. It would seem that the ideal condition for the dirt road to be in is snow-covered and frozen, because the spring thaw made our getting to Mount Cardigan a real adventure. The road resembled more mud than dirt and I am sure any loss of momentum would surely mean getting your vehicle stuck. While my Subaru’s all wheel drive was certainly up to the task of negotiating the road, a couple extra inches of clearance would have been beneficial in dealing with the deepness of the mud.
If you are planning on heading to Mount Cardigan at any point for spring skiing, I would suggest finding a friend with an SUV or truck. If you are the person driving, I would suggest not only collecting for gas but collect a couple dollars to run your car through the car wash afterward–it will be worth it. (I have not taken my own advice and, despite a couple days of rain, my car still is caked in Cardigan mud).
In spite of the challenge of the road, Mickey Spades and I did make it to Mount Cardigan and enjoyed some peaceful spring skiing. Once again we had the place to ourselves; not having to share the trails is a luxury I will never tire of. The skiing was soft and slow, but the warm temperatures made for pleasant skinning. Below is a small video made out of some footage captured during the day.