A Week of Winter Adventures!

It has been quite the week here in NH with the recent snowfall we have received; reaching over a foot in numerous locations! The picture above was taken by the Zealand Falls Hut caretaker this afternoon after receiving 5" of fresh snow overnight. 
Sunday night we received about half a foot of fluffy powder and I was able to do a night ski at one of my favorite secret locations in the valley, and was up to my knees in powder!

The next day I skinned up the road on Cathedral Ledge in North Conway, which is also a popular location for rock and ice climbing, and was rewarded in a few inches of fresh powder in the morning. We thankfully got up there before the snowmobiliers did, as this is a multi use road. The views north of cathedral are gorgeous looking towards Carter Notch (picture above).

On New Years Eve I skinned up the Black Mountain Ski Trail located in Jackson, NH; in the center of the town of Jackson take the Carter Notch Road 3.6 miles, then take a right onto Melloon Road, at the end of the road you will see the trailhead to which you can park next to. This trail was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s which is currently maintained by the White Mountain National Forest. As you can see in the picture to the right, this trail is quite wide, making for great skiing, and there still some great powder!

The trail starts at an elevation of 1,250 feet with the highest point at the Black Mountain Cabin at 2,450 within 1.3 miles, at moderate grades. Once you get to the cabin there are great westerly facing views of Mt. Washington (picture to the left). You can continue up 0.4mi to the summit of Black Mountain which has some great views into Carter Notch!
Later that night I also got the chance to ski down the Gulf of Slides Trail in Pinkham Notch, which also has some great skiing conditions!

 On New Year's day we hiked up Mount Jackson (4,052') and Mount Webster, a very popular hiking loop, as we saw about 20 other hikers close to the summit of Jackson! I was not able to get any shots from the summits due to the subzero temperatures, winds and lack of views due to blowing snow. The trail conditions were however fantastic headed up the Webster-Jackson Trail, very well tracked although having floatation devices were very helpful. The Webster Cliff Trail however had not been tracked out to the summit of Mount Webster (3,910') which was very helpful to have floatation devices, and with the recent snow yesterday it would be a good idea to have floatation devices on you just in case you need to break trail! On a clear day both of these summits have fantastic views of the southern Presidential Range as well as south into Crawford Notch.
The end of the day started it to clear and at the end of the afternoon I took the short side trail (0.2mi) to Elephant's Head and had a great view into the southern part of Crawford Notch!

Yesterday I decided to ski to Zealand Falls Hut in Crawford Notch. This is one of my favorite backcountry ski tours; it is an easy 6 mile (one way) trip to one of the three winter huts which you can use nordic skis, climbing skins are not necessary. There are two routes you can access this trail, one is by taking the Zealand Road (FR 16) for the first 3.2 miles which then connects to the Zealand Trail for the final 2.8 miles. This road is an easier trail, although the Spruce Goose Trail is also considered an easy ski trail, and is a good alternative to take if there is logging on the Zealand Road. The Spruce Goose Ski Trail is 4.1 miles, very well marked with blue blazes and parallels the Zealand Road and then connects with the Zealand Trail. The last 0.1 mile of the Zealand Trail you will not be able to ski, but everything before has perfect skiing conditions! The picture to the left and below were taken this morning as I got an early start and got first tracks!

When you get to the hut expect the caretaker to be there around 5pm, they will be able to give you the tour of the hut, and will start a small fire to help in the process of drying out clothes, and be able to show you how to use the propane stove. Usually the fire will be out by bedtime, so do not depend on it to dry out soaking wet clothing, always bring plenty of warm and dry clothes to change into.
Since the winter is caretaker basis only you will have to pack in your food, but there are plenty of pots and pans to cook with as well as plates and utensils, just please make sure to help out with the cleaning afterwards. The hut is not heated so having a winter sleeping bag is a must, if you have questions regarding what gear to bring on a winter hiking trip please feel free to call us here at the Pinkham Notch Visitors Center. As always you can check AMC Conditions for the latest report from the snow stakes and/or call us here at Pinkham to see what we're seeing out our windows and for the best trail advice we can give you!   
For any general questions, conditions information, or trail advice, please feel free to contact us here at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center front desk.  We are available by phone at (603) 466-2721 every day from 6:30 AM to 9:00 PM or by email at amcpinkhaminfo@outdoors.org. To make reservations at AMC Lodges and Huts, please call (603)466-2727 available Monday through Saturday 9am-5pm. We also offer ski and stay packages at our Joe Dodge Lodge and the Highland Center

Happy winter adventuring!

Danielle J.
Backcountry Information Specialist
AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center
(603) 466-8116

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