January: Mt Washington Valley Trip

January is short days and cold temps. A time of resolutions and reflections. In January I break out the new calendar and start filling it up. I don’t know why I love this so much, but I do. I love filling in the birthdays, the annual events, the work schedule, the games, and the new things we will do and learn. They all go on the calendar so I can eagerly await their arrival. I function better when my days are planned, even if its a planned day to do absolutely nothing. One of the first events I fill in is our annual family ski trip over Martin Luther King Weekend. For me it’s important to have something to look forward to in January, to break up the month, and that is this trip.

This year we chose a house in Intervale, NH. The quaint town is part of the Mount Washington Valley, a resort area of the White Mountains. Renting a house vs. separate accommodations is much more economical for us since we stay with two other families. Usually my sister takes on the job scouring Airbnb until she finds the perfect house. http://www.airbnb.com/rooms/3191866

If you are planning on visiting this area on a holiday weekend you need to get your travel timing right or you will be sitting in traffic hell (trust me I know this from experience.) On Friday we left our house on the South Shore around 08:30am to avoid the morning and afternoon rush and thankfully we timed it perfectly. Getting home Monday was another story. We were seated at the Flatbread Company in North Conway by 11:30. If you haven’t been you must! Not only is the atmosphere fun and kid friendly, you can watch your pizzas bake in their wood fired ovens. I highly recommend the Jay’s Heart Pizza, the Mopsy Kalua Chicken Pie, and the Flatbread Salad. Delicious!! https://www.flatbreadcompany.com

Within the Mt. Washington Valley there are many options when it comes to skiing. Cranmore, Bretton Woods, Attitash, Wildcat, and one of our favorites Black Mountain. Like I’ve said before, skiing during holiday periods can get pricey, so we love that Black Mountain is still affordable. On Friday afternoon we purchased a Saturday ticket for Black Mountain and when you purchase a next day ticket they allow you to ski from 2pm-4pm the day of the purchase which is an added bonus. The only downside was that only one lift was open Friday so we couldn’t ski from the summit but that left some new trails to be skied on Saturday. We basically had the whole mountain to ourselves on Friday afternoon. On Saturday the small lodge at Black was packed, but we never waited in line for more than a minute or two while we were skiing. In previous years we had skied at Bretton Woods and it was so crowded that I don’t think we would ever ski there on a Saturday or Sunday during a holiday weekend ever again. It’s personal preference, but our family would rather avoid the crowds. www.blackmt.com

Black Mountain Summit- View of Mt. Washington

Sunday we headed over to Wildcat which is a much larger mountain having over 2100 vertical feet to ski down as apposed to Black’s 1100. Wildcat is notorious for being windy and cold but we were ready. With over a foot of fresh powder and more to come we weren’t really sure what to expect. The kids were excited and ready for the challenge and we geared up with some extra layers and extra hand/body warmers. What a workout. I had never skied in such deep snow and my legs were burning after the first run, but the intensity kept us very warm. We had a great but exhausting day. There definitely weren’t a lot of beginner skiers on the mountain, and I really would recommend Wildcat for the more advanced skier. Lucky for us the Patriots are always in the playoffs during MLK weekend, so we headed home to watch that Epic game before collapsing from pure exhaustion. www.skiwildcat.com

Last year was a rough year for me and I’m really looking forward to 2019. January has started out great and I’m looking to getting some things penciled in to February. What’s filling your calendar this winter? Trips, adventures, learning something new? Please share with me I’m always looking for new ideas.

Thank for reading.

Heather

 

 

Pat’s Peak & Mt. Monadnock- quick winter getaway

Over Christmas break we always look for a quick winter getaway.  We look for something that’s within driving distance.  After the craziness of Christmas we are in need of a change of scenery, some outside time, and most importantly, time to unplug.  We don’t like to book anything too much in advance because the weather is so unpredictable.  Ski lift tickets seem to be getting more and more expensive and who wants to spend that kind of money, especially after the expense of the holidays, if there is no snow, if it is raining, or worse yet someone isn’t feeling well.  This year we chose Pat’s Peak and although we hadn’t planned on it, the weather ending up being perfect for a winter hike up Mt. Monadnock.  Here’s what I thought about both.

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I am constantly searching the internet, reading blogs, reviewing comments on tripadvisor.com,  and talking to friends and family to get ideas for new places to visit.  My sister had recommended a great deal on a ski & stay at the Hampton Inn/Bow, NH.  https://hamptoninn3.hilton.com/en/hotels/new-hampshire/hampton-inn-concord-bow-CCDNHHX/index.html  For a little under $400 we booked a two night stay, Friday-Sunday, which included four anytime ski tickets to Pats Peak and a buffet breakfast for the four of us each morning .  Although we usually prefer to stay somewhere with a kitchen and separate sleeping areas, during Christmas week this type of lodging tends to be way overpriced.  So we made do with the hotel room.  My only negative comment would be that the room was a little warm, but I tend to like sleeping in arctic temperatures.  I would say the beds were very comfortable though. We checked in on Friday afternoon and took the kids to the indoor pool, which was clean but very small.  There were many options for dinner in downtown Concord, NH, about 10 minutes away, and we chose Margaritas.  I wasn’t the best Mexican we’ve had but there was no wait for a table and it was inexpensive.  Actually, the hotel front desk gave us a list of area restaurants and a 10% off voucher which was a nice bonus. After a good nights sleep we headed to breakfast buffet  which was great,  there was plenty of options and we left for skiing full and ready for the day.https://www.patspeak.com

Pat’s peak was an easy 16 mile drive from the hotel.  We were a little nervous on the ride over as it had rained the day before and there wasn’t any natural snow on the ground.  We had read on their website that “Pat’s Peak has one the the largest snowmaking systems per acre in the state of NH” and we were pleasantly surprised by how much snow was on the mountain.  We were on the slopes by 9:30, and we did not wait in any lines all day which was awesome considering it was a Saturday of a school vacation week.  Every trail, except the glades area, of the mountain was open.  The mountain has 11 lifts which were all up and running, but we ended up using the same four lifts that took us to the top of the mountain.  As a family I feel that we are intermediate to advanced skiers.  We really enjoyed the black diamond trail Cyclone and double black Tornado, and although they were marked black diamond, I would compare them to a blue trail of larger mountain.  We were able to ski all of the trails with no difficulty, and made a full day of it skiing from 9:30-4:00 with two short breaks.

We enjoyed the day very much but I feel that in one day at Pat’s Peak we covered every trail that we wanted multiple times and feel like our family would have been board if we spent multiple days there.  Overall I would recommend Pat’s Peak for a day of skiing.  There is great snow making and groomed trails.  I wasn’t crowded and there was no wait time for lifts.  The lodges were clean and it’s one of the closest mountains to us that live south of Boston.

Originally when we headed up for the weekend our plan was to  go night ski on Sunday at nearby Crotched Mt., but unfortunately they are not open for night skiing on Sunday nights so we went to plan B.  It was a beautiful sunny day in the 30’s and I went online to look for a close area to go for a hike.  Although it wasn’t exactly on our route home we chose Mt. Monadnock and I’m so glad we did.  We were greeted at the gate by a friendly park employee who assisted us by giving us a map and recommending a trail to climb.  We paid the $14 fee for entrance, parked, and headed up the white dot trail which was easy to find and is the most direct route to the summit.  The park ranger said we should allow 2 hours  for the 2 mile hike to the summit.  We decided that our legs were pretty tired from skiing the day before and the ranger told us there would be a clearing a little before half way up, which was above the tree line and had a good view, so we thought that would be a good end point.  The hike stared at a steady incline that became steeper and more rocky the higher up we climbed.  We had dressed in multiple layers and were all sweating when we reach the tree line even though it was only about 35 degrees.  There were a few scattered people along the way up but we were mostly by ourselves and it was peaceful and beautiful.  Fortunately it was a clear day and view from the clearing at the tree line was amazing.  The climb down went smooth even though our legs were jello after skiing and the climb up.  We can’t wait to go back and make it to the summit!

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Mt. Monadnock – December 30, 2018 – White Dot Trail

Winter is long and just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy being outside.  I don’t think our family would make it if we were cooped up all winter, so we go out as often as we can.  Winter can be beautiful and fun. Just bundle up and get out there.  What are your plans for outdoor fun this winter?

Heather

Baby it’s cold outside.

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Where is spring?  It was here two weeks ago.  Oh. . . wait. . . .we live in New England where you cannot, I repeat, cannot, make any outdoor plans in advance.  Not knowing what crazy weather we will have means figuring out our next adventure at the last-minute.  Will we be breaking out the tee shirts and bikes or maybe squeezing in one more ski trip before the season is over?

So lets talk skiing.  It’s something my family and I look forward to every year.  Both of my kids started skiing at age 3. To say it was difficult to teach them is an understatement, but we got through it, and now at ages 8 & 10 they are better than I am.  It certainly takes lots of patience and now that I look back on it, I’m wondering why I didn’t just put them in ski school.

I think one of the main things that keeps people from skiing with their families is the expense.  It is generally a pretty pricey activity between the equipment, lift tickets, and  lodging if you are skiing multiple days.  I try to think of it as a learning experience and something all of us can do together, and that’s priceless.  Right!?!

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My husband Jon and our kids at Waterville Vally.  December 2016

The majority of our ski trips have been to New Hampshire and specifically to the White Mountains area. Typically I plan ski trips to the mountains that are offering the best deals, because let’s face it SKIING IS EXPENSIVE.  I thought I would share with you my Top 10 ways to save money skiing in New England.

#1  Get good, warm, ski gear.  There is nothing worse than buying a lift ticket and only skiing a few runs because the kids are cold. Hand warmers and toe warmers are a must too.

#2 If you are renting skis & boots for your kids think about leasing them for a season.  Check out countryski.com, who this past year leased used kids skis starting at $140 for the season, but as an added bonus you got a seasons pass to Bretton Woods.

#3 Buying skis is a great option too if you plan on skiing a lot or have kids to hand the skis & boots down to. My advice is to get measured at a ski shop and then check out Evo.com.  We bought 3 sets of skis from them in the past that we  are currently using and are very happy with.

#4  Use Liftopia.com.  If we know in advance where we are going to ski we usually buy tickets from this website and generally save about 30-40% off the ticket window price.

#5  In New Hampshire most mountains offer free lift tickets to kids under 5.  This is one of my favorites.  Who doesn’t like free.

#6 Check out Skinh.com and click on the Deals section in the Menu bar. Each mountain is listed with the deals that they run through the year. Everything is listed in one place so that saves you a lot of time too.

#7 Skiing midweek and non-holiday periods can save a bundle.  Play hookie for the day, and be the cool parent that lets the kids skip school.  Not only will you save money but they’ll probably remember that day forever.

#8 Pack your lunch and snacks.  Overpriced burgers are not worth it. Save your money for Apres Ski (and if you don’t know what that is you’re missing out.)

#9 Check Groupon.com and Livingsocial.com for deals on lodging near the mountain that you are planning on skiing at.  Just make sure to read the fine print.

#10 Lots of places have deals on Spring skiing.  For example, you can buy tickets at Waterville Vally or Cranmore  on St. Patricks Day for $17.00.

So whether you love the snow or hate it, we need to live with it.  There’s a saying that goes something like, “When you can’t change the things around you change your attitude.” Anyone want to go skiing next weekend?  We’ll meet you there.

Thanks for reading, and happy skiing.

Heather