Skiing Wildcat New Hampshire
by Bill Scuba
Believe it or not the skiing in the Northeast is very good this year. I skied at Wildcat recently and had a great time. It was a beautiful day. I was so excited to go that I woke up at 4:30 before my alarm went off. Having extra time, I packed a picnic lunch complete with red wine. It was a 2-hour drive for me up to Wildcat in Jackson, New Hampshire. It is about a mile past the Pinkham Notch visitor Center on Rt.16, where the trail up to Tuckerman's Ravine starts. Thanks to Wildcat and our New Hampshire Ski Club, it was free for us that day. It was only $20.00 for everyone else, good until the 13th . . . what a deal.
They had the fastest quad I have ever been on, which helped to minimize the lines. Wildcat has a 2100 vertical, and trails up to 2.75 miles long. The chair lift up gives a beautiful view of Mt. Washington and the Tuckerman's Ravine snow bowl on a clear day. We could only see half way up because of the constant cloud around the mountain. The Tuckerman trail was easy to pick out zigzagging up the Lower Mountain and then straight up the rock gutter. We all dressed very warm. It was cold in the morning but it warmed up and required removal of a few layers of clothing.
There are lots of black diamond trails at Wildcat, including a nice mogul trail, which I ran into coming around a corner at around 50 mph. I skipped off the top of a few moguls before I could slow down enough to make the turns, and lots of switchback s-turns which were my favorite. I skied with friends until noon, and stopped for lunch, when I broke out the picnic lunch on the deck in the sunshine. It was awesome. A Marcus James 96, tuna salad sandwiches, olives, cheese and crackers, carrot sticks with ranch dressing, pretzels, and Hershey kisses for dessert.
I think we hit every trail that was open. The outer trails were wide, well groomed and 2-2.75 miles long. The snow guns that were pointed too close to the trees made a beautiful snow storm effect on the sides of the trails. I wiped out once avoiding a snow boarder, but recovered quickly and then back on the trail, snow covered of course. The sunset was breathtaking, a horizontal light pipe from the sun, on top of a dark cloud with a light sky above it. Skied the afternoon until 3:30, making around 20 runs.
We met up with more of our club members in the lounge, and I had a Sam's Winter Lager, that tasted like cinnamon toast. We all planned our next ski adventures and I was surprised everyone there was going on the Quebec City trip to ski Mt. St. Ann and La Massif.
We stopped for dinner at Horse Feathers' in North Conway, its right on the way South. The Tuckerman's Pale Ale was good, but the food wasn't as good as it has been, still a cool place. There is an old ski lift trolley out front, that is from Cranmore Mountain. You hopped into it as it rolled by and an attendant would poke your skis in a slot before it left the little station, then at the top you jumped out and grabbed your skis before they went back down without you. Next door is an old picture shop that features mountain and skiing pictures. This center has a lot of nice shops.
Made it home around 8:30 totally exhausted. I have now skied at Cannon, Sunapee, and Wildcat so far this season and they were all very fast, well groomed, and there were very few lift lines.
Apparently the only Y2K calendar failure was Mother Nature's. We still have not gotten our first real snowfall of the season. Our last snowfall was March 16th, 1999. Mother Nature, Helloooo, flip the calendar over to winter please, time for a good old snow storm.