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NH's snow businesses weather a lackluster stretch of winter

Special to the Union Leader

January 22. 2013 10:09PM
The sign at Whitaker Woods, which features cross-country ski trails in North Conway, asks skiing enthusiasts to pray for snow as conditions deteriorate. (SARA YOUNG-KNOX PHOTO)

TAMWORTH - The annual dog sled races that start on Chocorua Lake are slated to take place Feb. 16 and 17, a change from the race's original scheduled dates.

The New England Dog Sled Club's race was scheduled to take place earlier this month, but inadequate trail conditions pushed the event deeper into winter. Though the region received about a foot of snow in December, a warm week in which the temperature soared into the 50s shrank the snowpack.

On Tuesday, the snow that was forecast did not materialize, though with the mercury only rising to the low 20s, what snow remained on the ground and slopes of the White Mountains was staying frozen in place. Though there was blue sky in Mount Washington Valley, the higher summits to the north were covered in clouds.

According to National Weather Service data, Pittsburg, the First Connecticut Lake, and Pinkham Notch all had about 13 inches of snow on the ground, with Berlin registering 12 inches, and Center Sandwich 10.5 inches. North Conway and Gorham both have 9 inches, and the wind-blown top of Mount Washington, as of Monday, had 10 inches. Tamworth had 7.

White Mountain ski areas have been luckier in their quest for white gold. At the start of MLK weekend, Laura Tuveson, marketing coordinator at Attitash Mountain Resort and Wildcat Mountain, said, "Wildcat Mountain is reaping the benefits of having the most snowfall this season in the state of New Hampshire, including almost a foot of new snow this week, bringing the season totals over 100 inches to date."

Despite last week's warm weather, downhill ski areas have held on to snow they've made, and they've received up to 5 inches of snow in the last few days. Loon Mountain reported 52 of its 61 trails open Tuesday. Bretton Woods had 71 of 102 trails open. King Pine Ski Area in Madison had all 17 of its trails open.

Cross-country ski areas, which for the most part depend on natural snow, made it through the January thaw. Tuesday at the Nordic Center at Waterville, 61 kilometers of trails were open, with Bear Notch Ski Area in Bartlett opening 60 kilometers of trails.

At Whitaker Woods in North Conway, groomers worked with the snow they had to keep the trail network through the town-owned land ready for skiers.

For snowmobilers, there's a variety of trail conditions in the North Country. Pittsburg has 100 percent of its trails open, with trails in the northern part of the region rated very good to great, similar to the report out of Diamond Pond/Coleman State Park.

This weekend, Friday through Sunday, riders on snowmobiles legally registered in any of the three northern New England states may ride on any of the trails in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine, for a three-state reciprocal weekend of riding.

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