A Family Adventure

Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

First ski trip of the year

November 17, 2018
Emilie Phillips

It snowed 7.5 inches at home for the first snow storm in southern New Hampshire. Pinkham Notch reported 13 inches at their snow stake — 5 inches of new snow on top of the existing base. Time to go skiing.

In response to the snow, a bunch of AMC ski leaders posted they were going to ski the Sherburne Saturday morning and then attend the Granite State Backcountry Alliance film festival in Intervale NH that evening. Tyson and I liked this plan. The only problem was we weren’t quite ready for winter.

Where’s all the gear?

Tyson’s and my skis, poles, boots, skins, helmets were easy to find, put away in their special places. When Tyson noticed how worn his boots and skis are, he got distracted from packing and window shopped online for a bit. We found our jackets, hats, mittens, and packs between hiking gear, kayaking gear, and a flight bag. The item we searched for the longest was Tyson’s balaclava. We found it stuffed in a mitten shell from the Stairs Mountain backpacking trip. Neither of us could remember if we needed fleece pants or long underwear to hike up a mountain with Isaac. We guessed long underwear, but brought the fleece as backup.

Packing ourselves had taken two hours. I was starting to wonder if this Saturday would turn into a practice packing day instead of a ski day. Next we needed to find what still fit Isaac from last year.

Jackets, snow pants and mittens miraculously did. His technical clothes were usable, though a little short. His ski socks were long gone, so we used hiking socks. Now the hard part: skis and boots.

We tried fitting him in last year’s Telemark boots and 90cm skis, but he’d outgrown everything. In October, I’d gotten two pairs of used Telemark 35mm boots, but both pairs seemed too big when Isaac tried them on. At the end of last season, I had bought him a set of 130 cm cross country skis with SNS bindings, but we had no matching boots.

All was not lost. Tyson found someone in Waterville Valley selling 120cm kids telemark skis. By doubling up Isaac’s socks, we could make the smallest of the new boots work. We also decided to stop on our way north at the Bedford NH ski and skate swap to look for cross country boots. 9AM we left the house.

At the ski swap, we found SNS boots that fit. Tyson sized up a pair of 120cm cross skis next to Isaac. They looked appropriate. This made Tyson worry the 120cm telemark skis would be too long.

It was 11 by the time we left the ski swap. At least, I consoled myself that the day wasn’t a waste. We would finish the day prepared for the next snow storm. We ate lunch in Plymouth and arrived in Waterville Valley around 1pm. The skis were as advertised. We had brought a binding tool, but the G3 Targa bindings fit Isaac’s boots. Isaac’s old skins weren’t going to work.

The oak leaves fell after the snow

We now had a quandary. We had a partial set of ski gear for Isaac. None of it quite fit. Isaac had no way to go uphill. It was an hour and a half drive to the movies. And the sun sets early.

We decided to carry out our plan to ski the Sherburne, but we would only hike up part way. Tyson would carry Isaac’s skis, and Isaac could hike on the groomed Tuckerman Ravine trail.

We arrived at the Pinkham Notch boot room at 3pm. Here we discovered one more piece of Isaac’s gear that’s too small — his microspikes. Everything else went according to plan. Skins on, out the door, and up we went.

Isaac yo-yoing why the adults pulled skins

The Tuckerman Ravine trail was in good shape. The water bars were still open water, but snow covered all the rocks. We made good time up to the first crossover to the Sherburne. By the second cross over, the deep orange cloud over Wildcat Mountain announced it was time to descend.

Mars visible above Pinkham Notch

Isaac had a moment’s hesitation after putting his skis on, but then he herringboned up the hill for a first run. The snow was dense, but dry. All three of us found nice turns skiing down. A handful of other skiers passed us. Back at the parking lot, the giant cloud had turned gray and Mars peeked out beside it.

We even made it to the movies on time.

All Photos

GPS Track