P/cloudy
55°
P/cloudy
Hi 69° | Lo 36°
Active Outdoors

Active Outdooors: Spring X-sta-C

  • March XC 1 This photo was taken way up north in early March of 2012. This year, it could be almost anywhere In New England. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)

    March XC 1 This photo was taken way up north in early March of 2012. This year, it could be almost anywhere In New England. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)

  • March XC 2 Jacket off, blue sky and sunshine, plenty of snow. In a good year, late March offers the best cross-country skiing of the season. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)

    March XC 2 Jacket off, blue sky and sunshine, plenty of snow. In a good year, late March offers the best cross-country skiing of the season. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)

  • March XC 2 Jacket off, blue sky and sunshine, plenty of snow. In a good year, late March offers the best cross-country skiing of the season. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)

    March XC 2 Jacket off, blue sky and sunshine, plenty of snow. In a good year, late March offers the best cross-country skiing of the season. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)

  • March XC 1 This photo was taken way up north in early March of 2012. This year, it could be almost anywhere In New England. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)
  • March XC 2 Jacket off, blue sky and sunshine, plenty of snow. In a good year, late March offers the best cross-country skiing of the season. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)
  • March XC 2 Jacket off, blue sky and sunshine, plenty of snow. In a good year, late March offers the best cross-country skiing of the season. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)

My neighbor asked me why I was smiling and whistling as I shoveled out from this last snowstorm. Actually, I wasn’t as happy as I might have seemed. We only got a foot of snow and I would have been twice as happy with two feet. But that wasn’t what I told her. Instead, I said, “Do the math ...”

Some years snow falls and sticks around in early or mid-December. But most years it’s the end of December or even early January before we get enough snow to play on. And most years, except on the highest mountains, the snow is going by the end of March. Some years it lasts until mid-April; others, like last year, it’s gone much earlier.

So that means, in the best of years, we might get really lucky and get four full months of snow. That’s just one-third of the year. But most years we only get three months of snow, and some years less than that.

While bare ground and

ice-free ponds and lakes are nice, we typically have at least eight months – two-thirds of a year – to bike and hike and paddle to our heart’s content – and only that measly one-third of the year (at best) to enjoy winter.

The truth is, real winter is precious, and it’s a crime to waste even a moment of it dreaming of something you get much more of anyway. That’s why I have little patience for the people who start whining when it snows in March (and none at all for the whiners in January and February). It’s supposed to snow in New England in the winter! And March is still winter. So is early April in a good year.

When there’s still snow, late March and early April are the very best times to get out on cross-country skis and snowshoes. It’s usually warm, you don’t have to worry about frostbite, and the days are longer so you can enjoy your time. And you might even get some sunshine to enjoy. Vitamin D is good.

You might have to time your outing depending on the temperature and the sunshine level of any given day. Snowshoeing is usually best early in the morning while the snow is still firm, while skiing is usually more fun after things soften up a little. Why not do both? Get up early and hike out on snowshoes to watch the sun rise. Then come back in for a late breakfast and pop on your skis. Doesn’t that sound like a whole lot more fun than sitting around grumbling about a spring that hasn’t come yet, and may not be as perfect as you might imagine when it does get here (think mud ... rain ... cold water ... black flies)?

My advice: Hold on to winter just as long as you can. Savor every wonderful white moment of it. Then, when spring does come, let go of winter gracefully and prepare to enjoy what the warmer weather offers.

Life isn’t a spectator sport. Get out and enjoy!

XC right now!

Lots of cross-country ski areas – especially those connected with a resort or lodging property – are suddenly offering mouth-watering ski-and-stay packages in late March. This last snowstorm just fueled that fire. But still, most XC areas will shut down after Easter, even if they have snow, so these next few days are your best chance to enjoy the last of a wonderful winter.

Every cross-country area I checked had good base depths (that’s heavy, compacted snow that’s very slow to melt) and at least 8 inches of fresh snow on top. Conditions are epic! Don’t you wish it would last until June?

∎ Windblown Cross Country (windblownxc.com) in New Ipswich has 40 kilometers open, with 8-15 inch base depths and 14 inches of new snow.

∎  Stump Sprouts XC Ski Center (stumpsprouts.com) in Hawley, Mass., has base depths of 10 to 20 inches and 10 inches of new snow.

∎  Trapp Family Lodge (802-253-8511; trappfamily.com) in Stowe, Vt., has 65 kilometers open and 18 inches of new snow.

My sweetheart Marilyn and I are headed for the Mount Washington Valley for a couple of days. Yes, we’ll be doing some Alpine skiing at Sunday River, Black Mountain and Wildcat, but we’ll also have our cross-country skis along. Here’s why:

∎  Bear Notch Ski Touring (bearnotchskitouring.com) has 65 kilometers of trails open, with 45 kilometers classic-groomed and 50 kilometers skate-groomed. Base depth: 14 to 21 inches. They got 11 inches of snow this week.

∎  Bretton Woods Nordic (brettonwoods.com) has 100 kilometers open, with 35 kilometers classic-groomed and 50 kilometers skate-groomed. Base depth: 4 to 12 inches, with 8 inches of new snow.

∎  Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center (greatglentrails.com) in Pinkham Notch has 45 kilometers open, with 20 kilometers classic-groomed and 20 kilometers skate-groomed. Base depth: 9 to 17 inches, with 16 inches of new snow.

∎  Jackson Ski Touring Foundation (jacksonxc.org) has 142 kilometers open, with 51 kilometers classic-groomed and 50 kilometers skate-groomed. Base depth: 2 to 28 inches, with 8 to 12 inches of new snow.

∎  Mount Washington Valley Ski Touring (mwvskitouring.org) has 45 kilometers open, with 25 kilometers classic-groomed and 20 kilometers skate-groomed. Base depth is 4 to 12 inches, with 12 inches of new snow.

(Tim Jones can be reached at timjones@easternslopes.com.)

There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.