Start your year with an outdoor winter adventure

  • Cranmore Mountain had great conditions on New Year’s Day. Plenty of snow, beautiful sky and no other skiers in sight. Tim Jones

  • The pre-New Year’s Day storm delivered enough snow to allow skiing on some natural snow trails. Tim Jones

  • The largest early-morning crowd at Cranmore Mountain on New Year’s Day waits to load a chairlift. Tim Jones

Active Outdoors
Published: 1/6/2020 5:57:27 PM

So, how did you start 2020? January 1 was a new day, a new year, a new decade . . . seems important to get it started right. I hope you got outdoors and did something fun.

Until a couple of days after Christmas, I had planned to start my new year of outdoor adventures with some whitewater paddling. About 200 paddlers showed up to run the Winnipesaukee River in central New Hampshire on New Year’s Day. Most of the paddlers were running the Class 3 Lower Winni right into downtown Franklin, but a few others did the Class 2 Upper Winni, which is where I would have gone had I paddled.

Paddlers in N.H. aren’t the only crazies around: Several dozen were out in the rapids on the Tarrifville section of the Housatonic in Connecticut.

Some friends were supposed to go sea kayaking along the New Hampshire-Maine coast but small craft advisories kept everyone I know off the water that day. I’ll bet someone was still paddling somewhere.

Still, nothing beats a good adrenaline rush and a splash of cold water to start the new year right, right?

Well, maybe...

As I said, I had planned to go paddling ... but then it snowed. Really snowed. And snow changes everything.

It started snowing up here on Sunday night and didn’t stop until Tuesday morning. It never snowed really hard and there were some lulls in the action, but when all was said and done, we got just about a foot of fresh snow, some of it powder, but most of it heavy enough to settle into a solid base that covers rocks and stumps and gives you something to ski on for the rest of the long season.

Up north, where I live and play, Dec. 30 was without any doubt the best ski day of the 2019-20 season so far. I was at Cranmore Mountain which I love because it faces south, has great trails, even better glades and is really close to my home. Trails that had been groomed overnight had about six inches of fresh snow on them and, for the first time it was possible to get off the trails and into the glades – if you didn’t mind risking some damage to the bases of your skis or snowboards.

I didn’t get to ski on New Year’s Eve, but on New Year’s Day, my sweetheart “Em” and I were back at Cranmore for her first day of the new ski season. She’d gotten new skis for Christmas and wanted to try them out.

Em loves freshly groomed corduroy as much as I love powder and she got her wish on this first day.

There were maybe a dozen skiers and riders waiting to catch the first chair up at 8:30 in the morning. And for our first three or four runs we hardly saw another soul on the slopes. High speed lifts let you get back up to the top before your legs have had a chance to recover, so we got in a day’s worth of skiing before other skiers and riders started showing up. I had already skied several times this season so my legs were in better shape than hers, so I kept skiing after she cried “uncle” and headed for the lodge. In all, I made 10 fast top-to bottom runs – which makes for a pretty good day of skiing – before 10 a.m.

We got off the hill feeling like we started 2020 exactly right. That’s one of the reasons to get up early on New Year’s Day: you get the slopes to yourself. Of course there are many other reasons to get up and out the door to start the new year: hiking, biking, snowshoeing, skating, cross-country skiing, mountaineering, ice climbing, paddling, camping, sledding. You name it, it’s possible! So many choices!

It doesn’t matter what you do – it just matters that you do something. Life isn’t a spectator sport. Get out and enjoy!

Vermont Outdoors Woman Winter Camp

Because winters are getting less and less predictable, Vermont Outdoors Woman has moved its winter camp dates from early March to Jan. 31-Feb. 2 this year.

Sorry, gentlemen, this is for women only. Ladies, sign up early ( if you want to get your choice of classes.

(Tim Jones writes about outdoor sports and travel. He can be reached at

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