Winter Notes: How to make the most of snow

By MEGHAN McCARTHY McPHAUL March 22. 2018 8:54PM
March snow and temperatures hovering on either side of freezing make for well-packed trails along popular hiking routes. Even the family dog can take part. (MEGHAN McCARTHY McPHAUL)

Spring started this week, which means ... well, the days are longer, providing more daylight to enjoy snowy adventures. I know the non-winter-lovers are getting a little grumpy at this point, as visions of flip-flops and beach outings dance through their cold-addled heads.

Winter can cling to the New Hampshire mountains for a long time, even in those years when it seems like spring will make an early appearance. If someone had told me two weeks ago that the melted-out landscape would turn glittery white again, I would have pessimistically disbelieved it. But glittery white it is — at least for now — and my take is you may as well get out and enjoy it!

Here, some suggestions for making the most of this extension of winter:

Take a hike

If the longer days have you dreaming of hitting the trail — well, there’s really no reason to wait. Winter hiking is a great way to stay in shape for summer hiking. And with daylight lingering longer each day, temperatures warming (albeit gradually), and well-packed (and not yet muddy) trails on main passageways, this is a great time of year to get out and hike. Added bonus: no bugs.

So, grab a friend and a pair of snowshoes or micro-spikes and get out there. If you’re feeling ambitious enough to tackle a multi-day trek, the Appalachian Mountain Club keeps three of its high mountain huts — Lonesome Lake, Zealand, and Carter Notch — open on a self-service basis through May 27. The AMC also offers educational workshops and guided hikes throughout the year. Check their online reservations and calendar for more information: www.outdoors.org.

Go sledding

If hiking’s not your thing, consider sledding. Borrow your kid’s sled or dig out the old toboggan from the garage and seek your thrills on the closest hill. If you haven’t been sledding since childhood, you are missing out on one of the simplest snowy thrills there is. Just do it.

If you’re loath to walk back up the hill, there are other kinds of sledding available with all this snow. Muddy Paw Kennels (www.dogslednh.com) has extended its dog sledding tour season through this weekend.

There’s also the motorized option of snowmobiling, and the ample March snowfall and chilly weather of the last couple of weeks has extended that sledding season as well. There are myriad outfits that rent snowmobiles and run tours around New Hampshire. For updated trail conditions, click the Activities button at www.nhstateparks.org.
With all the snow that’s fallen in March, there are plenty of hidden stashes at ski areas around the state. (MEGHAN McCARTHY McPHAUL)

Embrace your inner child

For winter-loving kids, the combination of lots of snow and extra daylight is like winning the early spring lottery. My kids have been heading out right after school and staying there long enough that I often have to remind them to come in to do homework and eat dinner. 


One day last week I glanced out the window to find my son had piled newly fallen snow into a giant heap, which he was hollowing out from a shovel-carved doorway to make an igloo-like structure. Now there is a village of snowy structures in the yard, bordered by snow walls and topped with giant icicles the kids have collected as they fall from the roof.

If igloo making is not your forte, build a snowman, make a snow angel, throw a few snowballs for the dog to chase. Or, if that all seems too silly, move on to the next suggestion.

Go skiing

The skiing is seriously so good right now! The glades are filled with snow. The groomers are holding up great under the recurring mix of spring snow and spring sunshine, and it’s just a lot of fun out there — whether “out there” is your favorite alpine area or cross-country trails. If, like me, you dream all summer of skiing, now is the time to stock up on the good skiing moments. 

Spring skiing festivities are also in full swing. There are myriad activities planned around the state this weekend. Saturday features Bode Fest with New Hampshire’s most famous skier returning home to Cannon Mountain. There’s a pond skim at Black Mountain, and Gunstock hosts its annual fun-packed Spring Thing. The next few weekends will see plenty more fun, with cardboard box competitions, fun races, and the always fashionable ’80s days. SkiNH lists events for most ski areas in the state at www.skinh.com. 

Regardless of what the calendar says, it’s still a winter wonderland out there, with plenty of snow fun still to be had.

Winter Notes is published on Fridays during ski season. Contact Meghan McCarthy McPhaul at meghan@meghanmcphaul.com


OutdoorsWinter Fun

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