Sunday, March 5, 2017

Winter Wonderland - White Mountains, New Hampshire

On Friday a group of friends and I headed up to Lincoln, New Hampshire for a winter weekend getaway. Little did we know that that weekend would have summer-like weather back in Philly. As we traveled north dressed in down coats and snow pants, we watched friends back home snap chatting in summer dresses eating ice cream.

After almost eight hours of driving and stopping at random rest stops we finally arrived at our hotel.
We stayed at Franconia Notch Motel, which was a relatively cheap option for those going to the White Mountains for skiing and hiking. It was already dark so we decided to stay in the motel to play Dirty Minds. We laughed late into the night.

The next morning we woke up early to go hiking. Of course we had only one set of micro-spikes, so we headed into Littleton to buy some cheap boot spikes for the hike. At first we could not find a shop that sold them in small enough sizes for our boots. My friend Constance decided to use bright yellow rope to create a make-shift traction device on her boot. To prove that it would work she jumped up and down on an icy pile of snow. The rope unraveled in a couple seconds. Luckily we found a small sports store that sold cheap spikes.

We headed to the Lonesome Lake trailhead and began our ascent to the Lonesome Lake Hut in Franconia Notch State Park. As we began to climb the steep icy trail, we were immediately grateful for our micro-spikes. One step at a time we climbed into the clouds. The trail was well marked and easy to follow, but if you happened to step off the narrow path your foot would sink immediately into snow up to your knees. Within an hour and a half we stumbled out onto the lake.

The lake was completely frozen over. The thick clouds made it impossible for us to see across. After a long photoshoot jumping in the snow we set off to find the Lonesome Lake Hut. We followed a narrow trail across a couple bridges to a small set of cabins tucked away behind the trees. As we opened the door warm air and the smell of fresh coffee hit our faces. Inside the main cabin was a handful of cafeteria style wooden tables, a small wood stove, and a smattering of warm smiles. A young woman greeted us. Brownies, hot chocolate and coffee were waiting for us on the counter.

We took off our heavy jackets and warmed up over a cup of coffee and a topographic map of the area. Other hikers trickled in. A nice gentleman started up a conversation, intrigued by the group of female student doctors warming up in this remote mountain lodge. He turned out to be a malpractice lawyer.

After a hot bowel of soup and toasted bagel we put back on our winter jackets and micro-spikes and headed back out into the cold. As we starred out across the lake before turning to head back to the car, the clouds began to lift and briefly we could see the other side. The Lonesome Lake Hut offers bunks for travelers hoping to stay in the area. Its a great location for day hikes in that area.

Heading down was harder than expected. We lost one spike on the way up so I offered to go down with just one boot spike. The slippery trail was challenging until my friend Shelly had a brilliant idea. Before you knew it, the four of us were sliding down the steep trail on our bottoms. The clouds began clearing giving us a view across the canyon to Mount Lafayette. Until the clouds cleared I didn't realize how far we had actually hiked.

Exhausted, we finally reached the car. Not wanting to miss a beat we headed to Flume Gorge. During the summer Flume Gorge is a popular destination for families. It boasts wooden walkways taking hikers deep into the green gorge. In the winter these wooden walkways are taken down but the gorge is still breathtaking, with its ice palisades, spilling over the edges, making it a popular destinations for ice climbers.

We finally headed back to the motel just in time to take off again to rent ski's for the next day. We headed to Exit 28 Ski and Snowboard Rental to pick up skis for $25. Its much cheaper than the resorts in the area. On the way back we stopped into Lincoln for Thai food. We headed to bed early, allowing the sounds of the river passing below our window to lull us to sleep.

The next morning we woke up early, outfitting ourselves in ski clothes to head to Waterville Valley Resort. It is a medium size resort, but due to the poor winter season was for the most part closed. Only the lower runs were open. The runs were very icy and hard to navigate, especially for new skiers.

My friends Lakhvir and Shelly wanted to learn skiing. We headed up to the top of the bunny hill, but at the top I realized I am a terrible ski instructor. My friends decided to take a professional lesson. I headed up the only other lift open. The conditions were terrible. Half of the trails were covered in ice. After 10 runs I decided to call it a day. I went back to the bunny hill to check on my friends. They were still in their lesson. They looked exhausted.

The instructor seemed really nice and very patient. He happened to be from Chile. After his lesson I convinced him to join me on one last run. We talked about Chile and he gave me a few tips on how to handle the icy patches on the trail. We piled back into the car and headed back home to Philly.

Overall we had an adventurous weekend. I will definitely return, maybe for some ice climbing and to stay in the Lonesome Lake Hut. Who wants to join?


  1. This sounds like such a hectic trip! I could never travel such a far distance alone. You see I get bored really easily and I think travelling in pairs makes traveling the distance easier

  2. Sure it gets cold in the winter, but winter is also snow covered landscapes, warm fires, a white Christmas, and even ice fishing (for the hardy).

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