If You Don’t Like the Weather, Wait a Minute

Mark Twain famously said, “If you don’t like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes.” Never has that statement felt truer than over the past few weeks, as we have gone from wear-every-single-item-of-clothing-I-packed weather to oh-shit-I-might-get-blown-away weatherto tee-shirt weather (the perennial favorite), sometimes all in the span of a weekend. And, while I have enjoyed my little tastes of spring summer, I would have been happy with real winter weather to end February and begin March.

The odd spring weather started over President’s Day weekend. Coming on the heels of two significant storms, the skiing was amazing, and it looked liked winter was setting up much like it did a few years ago when we had numerous storms throughout the end of February and into March. That notion was quickly dispelled, however, when arriving in a parking lot at the base of Mount Washington.

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Getting out of the car and stepping into my skis I stowed my puffy coat, and my wind shirt, and my long sleeve shirt…and thought to myself, this is Mount Washington in winter right? During most winter Mount Washington trips, I find myself wondering if I packed the right clothes; but in that moment I was concerned if I should have packed sunscreen. With fresh snow motivating us, we made quick progress to treeline, where it suddenly got cold. Very cold. And very windy! Crossing the summit plateau, I hid so deep inside my jacket, I could hardly see (ironically losing sight of the Cog Railway for a moment—something that I had called a “handrail to the summit” in a recent article). Pointing my skis down from the summit and into the wind only intensified the cold that was permeating my body, that is until dipping below tree line and into temperatures even warmer than earlier. Grateful for the sun, warmth, and deep snow, we were rewarded with some of the best skiing I can remember.

It’s hard to believe that only two days later I encountered some of the most challenging ski conditions of the season, in the same exact spot. Enthusiasm was high as we pulled into the parking lot, fueled by pictures and stories of the incredible skiing I found there just days earlier. But, the unseasonably warm weather of Saturday was followed by two bitterly cold days, turning knee-deep powder into filling-rattling concrete. Stepping out of the car only added insult to injury, because not only would the skiing suck, but it was also cold and windy. Making the best of it, we skinned up to treeline—I dared not go higher—and made the best out of the “firm” conditions.

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The following week, I found myself at Mount Moosilaukee. And, after another big warm up in the weather, I was left to wonder if skiing the whole Carriage Road would even be possible. Once again, I was able to leave the parking lot skinning in short sleeves and was happy to discover surprisingly good snow coverage leaving the parking lot. Moving up the mountain, you could hear the wind howling, but thanks to the cover of the trees, I was protected most of the way. Emerging above treeline, however, I met the most intense wind I have ever felt, with gusts routinely threatening to knock me off of my feet and making me contemplate turning around without summiting. I didn’t turn around, but after summiting, I hustled back to treeline as fast as I could to enjoy spring-like conditions in February.

I have always considered myself a winter person, but after this winter I am not so sure. The inconsistency of the weather has precluded me from ever getting too psyched on the season. And the warm spells have not helped me adapt to the cold weather. As I write this, it is snowing outside (well over a foot)—not even a week after another warm spell had me shopping for a new mountain bike. Of course, I’m not complaining. I’m just waiting a minute.

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