Greeley Ponds from the south was Tyson’s and my very first ski trip with the NH AMC way back in 2008. We signed up because it was obviously easy. We met Scott and Bill. Tyson got his very first Telemark lesson. Scott and Bill invited us back for the next weekend and the weekend after, and that’s how it all started.
Three years later, hurricane Irene flooded the White Mountains and washed the trail out. The Forest Service waited several years to repair the trail. When they did, they relocated the trail up away from the Mad River. We had heard the new route was quite a bit harder than the old route. That was enough to put us off doing the trip with Isaac. Now we were back.
We headed out at the start of a snow storm. The forecast was for 10-13 inches starting as snow and turning to a wet mix. We were pleasantly surprised we didn’t hit any rocks given the scant snow before the storm. There were a couple other skiers out on the Livermore trail. We followed fresh tracks on the Greeley Pond trail until they dead ended about 100 feet in. We broke trail the rest of the way to the ponds. Note the rain hats in the photos. There was a lot of snow falling, and it was wet and sloppy. I picked a conservative turn around time in case the snow storm succeeded at dumping 13 inches and we had to break trail back down.
In addition to it snowing buckets, we also climbed straight into a stinging wind. That was right at lunch time. We bundled up and postponed lunch until we dropped back down to the Mad River. There the wind was calmer. We set up our shelter for lunch — partly to stay dry, and partly because I had a hot spot on my heel that needed bandaging. After lunch, it snowed a few more flurries and quit. Thus, when we arrived at the lower pond, the wind wasn’t howling. The clouds had lifted enough to see the imposing East Osceola cliffs on the far side of the pond.
The re-route adds a long up and back down. It’s steep enough we had to herringbone in a few places. (Isaac and I did, that is. Tyson was having issues with the humid snow sticking to his skis and forming half inch tall platforms.) Tyson had been afraid the downhill would be an unpleasant plummet down a narrow hiking trail. Happily, the forest service built the re-route as a wide ski trail. There was plenty of room for gentle turns. I would now classify the Greeley Ponds trail as a blue rather than a green, but it is still definitely a skiing friendly trail. The winter ski route near the ponds is well signed.
We arrived at the pond 5 minutes before our turn around time. We admired the view and then headed back. The ride out to the lunch spot was quick because it hadn’t snowed much on top of our tracks. The climb back up from the Mad River was slow, partly because it was up, partly because our tracks snowed in, and partly because we kept stopping to explain things to Isaac. Tyson heard a number of “whumps” and we saw glide cracks — avalanche conditions. Later Tyson found a report of avalanches near North Conway. I’ve never heard of that area avalanching. Touchy snow. Fortunately, we were not in avalanche terrain.
Someone else had made fresh tracks up to the Timber Camp Trail. We zoomed back out to the car from there. Isaac loved the fast descent down the moderate slope.
While researching the new Greeley Ponds trail, we came across the Kancamagus Brook Ski Trail. Making a loop of Greeley Ponds, Kancamagus Brook, and Livermore Trail looks fun. It’s 10 miles with a bit of up and down.