Mt. Washington, NH 18MAY2013

An image of Erica skiing the eastern snowfields on Mt. Washington
Mt. Washington delivering the goods today

Using the Auto Road to gain access to Mt. Washington’s East Snowfields is a convenient way to get to some fantastic spring skiing, but a number of factors need to align for an optimal outing to come together.  First, the road has to open.  One never knows exactly when that’s going to happen, since it depends on how much snow has to be removed, how fast it’s melting, how much road maintenance needs to be done, how often bad weather delays work, etc.  Then, even once the road is open, weather can still play a factor.  Although some folks might be inclined to head up into the alpine regardless of the forecast, I think most folks would agree that a calm, warm, clear spring day (or at least as close as you can get to that ideal) is the way to go.  Those types of days can be rare on Mt. Washington, but they certainly happen, and they typically occur more frequently the farther one gets into late spring.  While time might be on your side with regard to weather, it’s generally not on your side when it comes to snowpack.  With each passing day of warmth, the snowpack melts a little more, and ski options diminish.  And, even if the stars align to create that perfect combination of access, weather and snowpack on the mountain, there’s everything else in life that has the potential to get in the way of letting you jump at the opportunity.  Once in a while, things just don’t come together before the snow melts, but somehow, even with all those obstacles, we usually manage to get over to New Hampshire for some spring camping and skiing with the boys, and this year was no exception.

“We had the snowfield
 to ourselves the entire
 afternoon…”

For two weeks from the end of April through to the second week of May, we saw an incredible stretch of clear, warm spring weather with absolutely no measurable precipitation at our house in Waterbury.  This period produced some great spring skiing, but the warmth and sun also accelerated the snowmelt to a rate that was a bit faster than usual.  This period was great in terms of progress on clearing snow from the Mt. Washington Auto Road however, and it was open to the summit as of last weekend.  The weather was unsettled for that first weekend though, so we opted to head down to the South Shore area and visit Erica’s mom for Mother’s Day, and keep our eyes peeled for a good weather window.  After a couple more days of unsettled weather, the clear regime returned this week, and prospects for an Auto Road trip were looking excellent.  This morning, the forecast called for decent weather with temperatures in the 40s F, and the morning shot from the Ravines Cam revealed crystal clear skies.  It also showed that the east side ski options below the Mt. Washington summit are still quite plentiful, with many additional snowfields available along with the main one.

An image of the Presidential Range in New Hampshire from the west
Presidential view

We were on our way to the mountain by mid morning, and views from the west side were already encouraging as we approached the Presidentials.  When the west side still has skiable snow, you know the east side is going to have plenty of options.  Steep lines with decent snow were even visible on the north side of the range as we passed by on Route 2, and on the ascent of the Auto Road we could see various snowfields in the peaks towering above the Great Gulf.  In the proximity of the Auto Road itself, the first signs of snow were at roughly the 3,500’ elevation.  As for the East Snowfields, the setup today was a lot like we encountered during our 2010 trip, in that the broad strip of snowfields was present off to the north of the main East SnowfieldA look at the availability of snow in 2010 shows an interesting distribution of snow – that strip of snowfields off to the north was very prominent, and the main East Snowfield was surprisingly small.  The current snowpack is definitely different from what we had available on our 2011 and 2012 trips, where the skiing was essentially down to just the main snowfield.

“The snowfield held
beautifully flat and
pristine corn snow…”

With the lower snowfields in action, we decided to go with the approach applied in our 2010 trip, which is to use the parking area below the 7-mile post on the road, instead of the parking area at the top of the snowfields.  Using this technique, one can tour out along the more northerly snowfields as far as they want, even hitting the main East Snowfield if they’d like.  Then, to finish the tour, instead of having to hike back up to the parking area atop the East Snowfield, one can essentially traverse back along the base of the snowfields with minimal additional ascent.  Along the way, you can make descents in the other snowfields as well, which often have untouched snow.  They’re used much less than the main East Snowfield and we’ve typically found that we have them to ourselves with untouched corn snow.  At the end of our 2010 trip, we also discovered a very efficient use of the mountain’s hiking trail network for this type of tour.  We’ve started traversing on the Nelson Crag Trail before, but, it turns out that simply descending straight down from the lower parking area on the Huntington Ravine Trail drops you right onto the northern edge of the snowfields, so you can use the trail to get you right to the snow.  You can’t really see the snow from above, so it’s not obvious unless you know what you’re doing, but as long as those northerly extensions of the snowfield are present, it’s a really sweet and efficient approach.  Even though the distribution of the snow in the snowfields area is different each spring, it’s nice to be developing a knowledge of what works well for getting to the snow.  We’re definitely starting to dial in a good understanding of how to best approach what we see on the Ravines Cam in terms of touring the snowfields.  This year our goal was to tour out toward the main East Snowfield as described above, with the potential to ski there, but it would depend on how good the skiing was that found along the way, as well as time, and of course the boy’s attitude and morale, which can be extremely flighty on these outings.

A dimensionally square image of the Dakine Women’s Pro II 26L Ski backpackAs expected, taking the Huntington Ravine Trail got us to the snow in just a few minutes of hiking from the car, and Ty and Dylan were ready to just stop right there and start skiing.  E and I explained to them that what they saw was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of snow, and that we would be traversing southward for some longer lines.  The snowfield there was only about 50 vertical feet or so, but typically the priority for the boys is to minimize the amount of hiking they have to do in whatever way they can.  The boys did have a bit more challenge this year, since they were both carrying their own skis on their packs for the first time.  Fortunately, they had both decided to use their Telemark skis, also a first for them, so it’s nice that their Teles are lighter than their alpines.  This also meant that they could simply wear their Telemark boots and hike like me and Erica in ours, since they are very flexible and have rubber soles.  This meant we didn’t have any alpine boots to carry, although Tele boots still aren’t quite as easy for hiking as standard hiking boots, so that was a bit of a bump in challenge for the boys.  For E, this trip was also a chance to carry her skis on the Dakine Women’s Pro II 26L ski pack that she got for Christmas.  Although she used it on some backcountry outings this winter, we were always skinning, so there was no need to carry her skis on her back.  This was her first opportunity to really put it to the test with skis on it, and she was very impressed.  I wouldn’t have thought about it, except that she commented on how it didn’t even feel like she had skis on her back – that’s always good sign when it comes to a ski pack.  She also mentioned how the diagonal carry is so superior to the A-frame style carry in terms hitting the backs of the skis with your legs.  I’ve always been very impressed with the diagonal carry on my Dakine Sequence ski/photo pack, so I’m glad E is getting to make use of that system.  Dakine definitely knows how to set up a ski carry system.  The one issue I did notice with E’s pack is that since it has a helmet carrying system (very cook and I wish I had one) it gets a bit tight when the skis are on there in diagonal carry as well.  Overall the skis and helmet were nice and snug there though, and E had no complaints.  Our only lament heading outbound on the tour was that with our skis angled down to the right, it meant that they occasionally touched the rocks because of the direction of the side slope on our southward traverse.  It was only an occasional inconvenience though, and I joked that we could always traverse around the entire Mt. Washington summit cone in the other direction if we really wanted to avoid that issue ;).

An image of Jay carrying his skis on his pack on one of the snowfields on the east side of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire
Time to hit the snow!

After only about ten minutes of southward traversing, we came to a substantial snowfield of about 250’ vertical or so, and we decided to do some skiing.  We hit the snowfield about midway up, so I set in a boot ladder to the top.  The snowfield held beautifully flat and pristine corn snow, aside from a couple of very faint tracks from a previous skier or two that must have been there quite a while ago.  The snowfield was continuous, but did have a choke point about midway down along the left, so one had to take that route.

It was good that we’d reached at least an initial snowfield, because the boys were already getting grumpy.  They really wanted to get on with the camping, and while they enjoy being out on the snow, getting them to thoroughly relish all aspects of earned turns is always a challenge.  Some days they enjoy the experience, or at least substantial parts of it, but other times it’s essentially putting up with Mom and Dad dragging them around to these snowy spots.  We’ve learned that it’s good to have a “carrot” aspect of the trip as well, whether it’s a stop in a the Bryant Cabin on a Bolton Valley Backcountry Network outing or the swimming pool after, a chance to eat out somewhere once we’re done, or in this case, a chance to do some camping.  We relayed to them that they were sitting on their own private snowfield with great temperatures, no wind, no bugs, beautiful snow, and even some sunshine.  These aren’t things that you can get every day, but in their minds they were already off the mountain and down by the tent and campfire.

An image of Jay Telemark skiing on the East Snowfields of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire in May
Getting after some of that smooth corn snow today

At the top of the snowfield, I hung out for a while and enjoyed the scene, while the boys did a bit of sliding on the snowfield, and E made the first descent.  Her turns looked good, and it was amazing how fast she dropped that vertical.  It seemed like she was down toward the flats of the Alpine Garden area in an instant, and she looked so far away.  I skied a run next, and then we eventually got the boys to make some turns, even though they were being somewhat lazy and reluctant.  They both put together some nice Telemark turns, even though the pitch of the snowfield was quite steep.  E and I both made some additional turns, with me finishing off a run on the lower right of the snowfield while E shot some pictures.  We had the snowfield to ourselves the entire afternoon, so even though it was only about half the vertical of what was available on the main East Snowfield, it was such good skiing that we never even continued over there.  The boys were a bit too sour for that anyway, and really wanted to get on to the camping.  We could hear that occasional shout from people on the main snowfield though, and I’m sure there were some great times going on over there.

An image of Dylan Telemark skiing in May on the East Snowfields of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire
Dylan out there carving some turns on the Telemark skis

The return traverse to the car was pretty quick, and E and I helped out the boys by each carrying a pair of their skis.  For the extra set of skis, we went with a vertical carry, and E seemed to still be impressed with the stability and ease of her pack, even with the second set of skis on it.  I made the lowest traverse, so that meant a few minutes of hiking back up the Huntington Ravine Trail at the end, but I was eager to test that out.  It was nice to walk on an established trail, since the going was a big quicker than across the random jumbles of rocks that give the Rock Pile its name.  While we were loading up the gear at the parking area, we had some inquiries about where we’d been skiing, and one guy was very intrigued to know that you could access the snowfield from that lower parking lot.  He said he’d like to try it out in the future.

“…but in their minds
they were already off
the mountain and down
by the tent and campfire.”

Each year we like to try out a new campground on our visit to the snowfields, and this year I decided that we’d head south to Glen, New Hampshire.  I’d found a couple of potential campgrounds there.  The first was the Green Meadow Camping Area, but when we stopped in and found out that they weren’t opening until next weekend, we headed to the Glen Ellis Family Campground a couple of miles down the road.  I’d put it as the second choice because it was a bit more expensive, but once we got there you could immediately tell why.  The grounds are immaculate, and the building that functions as the main office and store was a beautiful building.  Everything was first rate, and they’ve got a huge playground, basketball and tennis courts, and even a pristine baseball diamond.  It’s certainly in that upper echelon of campgrounds.

Visitation was only modest since it’s no Memorial Day yet, so they gave us one of the riverside campsites.  We thought that would be nice, but it wasn’t until we finally got to it that was saw how amazing it was – it was absolutely one of the coolest campsites we’ve ever had in either to Eastern or Western U.S.  There’s a wooded section with the usual fire ring, picnic table, etc., but then that expands up onto a riverside area comprised of the rocks that are part of the riverbed, with a second fire ring.  It overlooks a gorgeous stretch of the Saco River that made E and I feel like we were back in Jasper National Park.  As soon as we saw that riverside section, we knew we were going to pitch our tent right up there.  The boys headed off to the playground for a bit, we cooked up some hot dogs and beans for dinner, and finished things off with s’mores and lot of campfire time.  There wasn’t actually anyone else camping out on the river since campground visitation was light, but I have to believe those riverside spots are pretty coveted on busy weekend.  The fly fishing looked amazing, and we saw one guy out working the stream about a half mile downstream.  That is a campsite that will not soon be forgotten, and it will definitely be on our list for the next time we’re in the area.  Apparently their Laundromat is a big deal as well, because there are as many signs for that as there are for the campground itself!

An image of a campsite along the Saco River at the Glen Ellis Family Campground in New Hampshire
The view from our campsite at the Glen Ellis Family Campground today

An image of the sign for the Glen Junction Family Restaurant in Glen, New HampshireSunday update:  The evening sky had some on and off broken clouds and a nice moon, and I bet it dropped into the 30s F overnight because even with the rain fly on the tent, we were down to the mid 40’s F.  After breaking camp, we decided to try out one of the local restaurants for breakfast on the way home, and found the Glen Junction Family Restaurant.  It definitely seemed to be the hot spot for breakfast, and the menu was almost overwhelming with the variety of combinations of fresh toast, omelets, and most of the usual morning fare that you can think of.  Not surprisingly with the junction location, the theme is trains, and they’ve got some fairly large-scale trains that circulate around the rooms up near the ceiling.  The boys definitely enjoyed watching those, as did the numerous children that were there as well – especially the younger ones.  Of course any adults like me would enjoy them as well.  One of the specials had eggs Benedict on French toast, which was tempting, although I ended up making my own omelet which contained corned beef hash and spinach.  The waitress said that was the first time she’d ever had anyone put together that specific combination, and it turned out great.  Everyone liked their fare, and we even had some extra to take home as the portions are plentiful.

We got home today around noontime, after a bit of maintenance on the mowers, I was able to do the first lawn mowing of the season.  It’s only about four short months until I’ll be on the last mowing of the season, and we’ll be thinking about the first snows, but there are plenty of summer activities to do in the meantime.  In terms of skiing, we’ll have to see if we want to take a trip down to Killington for some turns in the next couple of weeks, since they’re apparently going for June this year just like old times.

Mount Washington, NH 27MAY2012

An image of Dylan skiing the snow on the Mount Washington snowfields on Memorial Day Weekend 2012
Dylan getting his taste of Mount Washington’s Corn snow this Memorial Day Weekend

It’s becoming an almost annual tradition that once the Mount Washington Auto Road opens for its summer season, we head over with the boys for some skiing on the summit snowfields.  It’s not quite an annual tradition though, since there are years where an appropriate window of pleasant weather never presents itself to us before much of the snow melts out.  But then there are those years like 2010; the snow was so plentiful on our trip that we could easily travel among different snowfields.  The variability in weather and snowpack keeps these trips really interesting though; with the way that the weather patterns create different assortments of snow deposition each season, it never seems to be the same experience twice.

This year’s auto road skiing season began last weekend, when the road opened with outstanding weather for getting out on the mountain.  However, with other things on our plate, we had to wait until this weekend for a shot at some turns.  After some clouds and a bit of precipitation midweek, the fantastic late spring weather returned, and we were set up for blue skies on the mountain.  I’d been following the state of the snowfields in one of the Time for Tuckerman Forum threads, and coverage looked great last weekend.  The amount of snow dropped off a lot this past week, but it still looked like we’d have more snow than we did for our trip last season, when we couldn’t make it out to ski Mount Washington until June due to obligations and weather.  It looked like both Saturday and Sunday were going to be excellent days on the mountain, and we decided that skiing Sunday would work best with our schedule.

I finished up some yard work yesterday, and then we headed off to New Hampshire in the mid to late afternoon.  Our plan was to get in a night of camping at one of the New Hampshire campgrounds, and since we’d visited the Israel River Campground last year, we decided to try out the KOA in Twin Mountain this time around.  Although it’s Memorial Day weekend, we didn’t make any reservations and just decided to play it by ear.  As it turned out, we got the last available site at the campground, so we didn’t even have to check out any other options.  Even though it was the last available campsite, we really enjoyed the spot we got, which was under a bunch of stately white pines, and pretty close to the playground, pool, bathrooms, etc.

An image of the Ammonoosuc River in New Hampshire with early evening light
Beautiful early evening light hits the Ammonoosuc River as we travel toward Twin Mountain, New Hampshire.

The boys really like the campgrounds with the added amenities, so we’ll choose those sometimes, and of course as soon as we were at our campsite they were off to the playground.  One of the neat features at the playground was this huge soccer ball that was as tall as Ty’s waist; they had all sorts of fun kicking it around and launching themselves on top of it.  At least we were able to pull them away from the playground for a bit to help get the fire started and finish setting up the tent.  Instead of pulling wood out of our she, we’d purchased an armload of firewood from the campground, and I was happy to discover that the quality was good – it really got the fire blazing.  Sometimes we’ve gotten that moist wood that just likes to sit there and smolder, and that’s annoying.  We cooked up the usual assortment of burgers, dogs, and beans for dinner, and then had time for some s’mores, where I created perhaps the best s’more ever.  Dylan pointed out that since we hadn’t actually seen all the s’mores in the world, we couldn’t possibly know that, but I’m standing by my statement.  I contend that mine could easily have been used in a magazine to create a model image of how a s’more should look.

An image of Erica, Ty, and Dylan around a campfire making s'mores at the Twin Mountain KOA campground in New Hampshire on Memorial Day weekend 2012
S’mores around the campfire last night in Twin Mountain, NH

As we headed into the tent for the night, I was able to get on the internet (another benefit of campgrounds with amenities) and check on the forecast.  With the nice dry weather, the Twin Mountain area where we were located was forecast to have a low temperature of 43 F – some classic Memorial Day Weekend weather for Northern New England and very similar to last year where the forecast called for the upper 30s F, although that was actually at the beginning of June.  It looked like it was going to be comfortable sleeping weather, at least if we stayed in our sleeping bags.  The high for Sunday was expected to be 74 F in the valley, which would probably translate into the 50s F up on the snowfields.

I woke up pretty early this morning, at the point where we were just starting to get some light in the sky.  It was indeed chilly and I hung out in my sleeping bag watching some squirrels that seemed to be playing around way up above us in the towering pines.  Ty was chilly when he woke up, so he huddled up in his bag as well.  Dylan even hopped into Mom’s sleeping bag with her, and pointed out that his bag has definitely been getting too small.  He also added that this wasn’t the first time he’s told us about the size, and proceeded to hop in and demonstrate how his head is certainly sticking out, while his feet are crammed right up against the end of the bag.  OK, we get it Dylan, we are definitely behind on getting you a new sleeping bag.  Both boys are really in need of new bags though, and they are ready for some mummy-style ones, so I hopped on the internet and started looking around while we generally dozed in the tent.  I found that several companies make nice bags for kids – I saw a nice review on one of the 20-degree bags from Mountain Hardwear, and that seems to be the frontrunner in the selection process so far.

An image of pancake batter being dispensed for the all-you-can-eat breakfast at the Twin Mountain, New Hampshire KOA Campground
Now that’s how you make a pancake!

The campground was having an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast so we stopped in there and had our fill.  I enjoyed the batter dispenser that they had – you load it up with a bunch of pancake batter and it does a beautiful job of dispensing it evenly out of a funnel in the bottom.  It was fun chatting with the folks that helped run the campground, they’re really an enthusiastic bunch, and why not when you’re spending the summer camping.  E and I then got a chance to hang out on the front lawn in some of the wonderful Adirondack chairs that they’ve got assembled out there, and we watched the boys hit the playground with some of the other kids.  I got a chair with arms that must have been 6 to 8 inches wide, and of course flat, like the arms of a real Adirondack chair should be.  The wide arms are a hallmark of the chairs anyway, but these were fantastic for holding my last round of breakfast while I ate – if we get more Adirondack chairs, I’m going to be partial to those extra wide arms.  It would have been nice to kick back there in the chairs for a while, but there was skiing to be done, and with the forecast calling for clouds moving in later in the day, the sooner we got up the mountain the better.

The clear weather held strong as we headed up to Gorham and wrapped our way around down to the Great Glen area to the start of the Mount Washington Auto Road.  It’s always nice when you start seeing those patches of white up in the high peaks, and they were definitely sparkling in the late May sunshine.  The trip up the road went smoothly, and we threw in our copy of the audio tour CD, which is always a fun refresher of the history of Mount Washington and the auto road.  I guess that there’s actually a new version of the tour CD available, but the woman who helped us at the toll booth said to keep our old one because the narrator is better.  When we arrived at the parking area above the snowfields, we were surprised to find only two other cars there at midday on such a nice weekend day.  We weren’t surprised to see that both cars were also Subarus though – skiers know what works well for getting you to the slopes.  Whatever the snow conditions were going to be, it didn’t look like finding space on the snowfield was going to be an issue.

The boys played around and headed off for a quick hike up Ball Crag (6,106’) while E and I got the gear together.  The weather was indeed pleasant as forecast, although with a temperature in the lower 50s F and probably a 10 MPH breeze, it was nice to get our ski pants and other gear on while we worked.  After visiting various spots on the snowfields over the past few seasons, we’ve finally got a good sense for where the vestiges of the main snowfield like to sit at this time of year, so we dialed that descent in fairly easily – although you generally can’t see the snow from above once the snowfield has gotten small enough, heading in the direction of Wildcat’s ski trails will get you in decent shape.

An image of Jay advising Dylan as he skies though a narrow area with rocks on the Mount Washington east snowfields - Memorial Day Weekend 2012
A little advice from Dad as Dylan makes his way through the choke point on the upper snowfield

Unlike last year’s trip, when the remaining snow was only toward the bottom of the general East Snowfields area, there is currently substantial snow much higher up, so even in our Telemark boots it was a quick five to ten minute descent today to get down to the skiable snow.  We met a couple of guys from Time For Tuckerman Forums who are part of the Memorial Day Slackfest tradition, and had a fun time chatting with them.  One was RR, who plays a big part in the gathering and sets up the poles for the slalom that they like to have on Memorial Day.  RR and others have been keeping the auto road & snowfields conditions thread nicely updated with pictures, so many thanks go out for their work.  They filled us in on the status of the snow while another couple was just hiking back up from a run.  We were on the top of the main snowfield section, and it was broken up into three areas, with another similar snowfield down below us, and a smaller one off to the skier’s left.  Our snowfield had a choke point in the middle with some exposed rocks, so one had to be careful going through there.  It turned out to be enough of a hassle that we spent most of our time skiing the section of the snowfield below that point – the rocks just broke up the flow too much to try to get through there.  The turns were nice and smooth below that point though, and even sticking to just that one snowfield seemed to give us more vertical that we’d found on last year’s trip.

An image of Ty skiing under beautiful blue skies on the Mount Washington snowfields on Memorial Day Weekend 2012
Blue skies and corn snow for Ty

The boys were really excited to just slide on the snow in their ski pants, but we convinced them that they should do at least one run on the skis before they got to sliding, so they got their alpine boots on and were happy with that.  I skied down first with Dylan, getting some photos in the process, and when we reached the bottom I told him that I’d bring his skis back up for him so that he could go off and play.  Dylan had done a nice job with the turns – the snow quality was excellent as usual, and getting through that crux point was the only real challenge.  I hung out at the bottom of that upper snowfield and took pictures while E and Ty also did a run down to meet me.  Ty left his skis at the bottom like Dylan had done, and then they were off on their sliding adventures and created a “slide of doom” like they had last year.

An image of Erica skiing the snowfields on Mount Washington in New Hampshire, with a stripe of cirrus clouds among blue sky in the background
E’s back for another run.

E wasn’t very happy with the fluidity of her first run, and she made a couple more runs to get her groove going, which she definitely did.  I took plenty of shots with our usual Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens, then got her on another lap taking some wider-angle shots using our friend’s Canon EF-S 10-22 mm f/3.5-4.5 USM lens that we’d borrowed.  It’s a great compliment to the 24-105, and it’s been on my wish list for quite a while.  It’s been a lot of fun catching huge sweeping images, and it really takes some time to get used to just how much is going to be contained within the image when you’re using that lens.  People and objects to the side of my view were constantly ending up in the images if I didn’t pay attention.

An image of Jay Telemark skiing on the Mount Washington snowfields on Memorial Day Weekend 2012
Carving up the corn snow today on the snowfields

After E had had her fill or turns for a bit, she got behind the camera and I did a few more runs, including a side trip over to that other small snowfield to our north.  That one had some pristine snow, and it was a neat perspective getting shots of that snowfield from the side.  In general, the consistency of the snow was excellent today everywhere we went, but the main area was more tracked up, so the smooth turns were a treat.  Skies were generally blue, turning whiter as the afternoon wore on and clouds started to build in.  Having been out on the snowfields in less than optimal conditions before, we appreciate that fact that there was sunshine, minimal wind, no bugs, and simply perfect air temperature.  It would have been awesome if the whole snowfield had held together with good coverage for today, since the runs would have been much longer, but even sticking to the upper section of snow was enough for some good turns, and with the way this season went, it’s really nice to even be skiing on Memorial Day Weekend.  We actually never even visited that other chunk of the big snowfield that was down below the one we skied, but now that I look back at the web cam images and see what others had to say, it sounds like it was pretty decent in size and was probably offering up some fun turns.  Each year though, I get a better ability to translate what we see on the web cam images of the snowfields into what is actually on the ground, so we’ll be able go in with an even better perspective on what we want to ski next time around.

An image of Jay skiing one of the snowfields on the east side of Mt. Washington on Memorial Day weekend 2012
Heading over to another snowfield to our north for some smooth turns on the untouched snow
An image of Erica, Ty, and Dylan on the observatory deck of Mount Washington State Park's Sherman Adams Visitor Center at the summit of Mount Washington in New Hampshire
E and the boys spending some time on the summit

The other folks had left by the time we were winding down our session in the mid afternoon, so it was very quiet as I finally got a chance to have my lunch while we packed up the gear.  With some weather on the way, we got to watch some fun lenticular clouds form off to our east above Wildcat.  I bet that something similar was forming over our heads knowing the tendencies of Mount Washington and weather, but the sky never really got so cloudy that the intensity of the sun was lost.  The return trip to the car was very quick; it must have been just about five minutes since we were so close and knew exactly the direction to go.  Along with some clouds pushing in, the wind had picked up noticeably at the car, and it was probably in the 25-30 MPH range while we were packing up our equipment.  We switched out of most of our ski gear, and decided to stop in at the summit for a little while to take a look around with Ty and Dylan.  The boys got a couple of fun scientific toys in the gift shop (a gyroscope for Ty and a spinning magnet for Dylan) and they’ve been having a lot of fun with those.

An image of the sign for Alburrito's Mexican restaurant in Littleton, New Hampshire
Alburrito’s in Littleton, NH

It was sort of an interesting trip this year, since we camped before we skied.  That’s just the way things worked out with our availability and the forecast, but it gave us the chance to grab dinner somewhere on the way home.  We decided to check out Alburrito’s Mexican restaurant in Littleton.  We weren’t all that excited by the chips and salsa and the appetizer chili queso dip, but my vegetable burrito was quite good and E’s coconut shrimp was as well.  That redeemed things a bit, but we didn’t find it to be on par with Frida’s Mexican restaurant that we often visit in Stowe.  It made for a nice stopover though on what has been yet another successful trip to the Mount Washington snowfields.  These past couple of trips have certainly been on fairly small snowfields, so we’d hoping for a good combination of snowfall and spring weather that can get us up there when more snow is left next season.  We’ll see what Mother Nature has in store.  As I was writing this up, I noticed that RR has already made a post on the Time For Tuckerman Forum with some pictures from today; he even captured E and I and the boys in one of them.  That’s another great spot to get some pictures from this fine day out on the slopes.