Out of This World! – X-Country Skiing in Crawford Notch

 

It’s already April and the snow has been melting fast.  Am I out of my mind thinking I can go skiing in Crawford Notch?  The Northeast Snow Depth map says there’s still plenty of snow up there although the thin snow cover driving down from the north is causing me to have doubts.

The trusty NOAA snow depth map says there will be snow...

The trusty NOAA snow depth map says there will be snow…

But I needn’t have worried.  There was plenty of snow for my plan – to ski the rail line that travels the length of the notch.

Skiing in Crawford Notch State Park.  The bridges were the only tricky part.

Skiing in Crawford Notch State Park. The bridges were the only tricky part.

The only spots without snow were the bridges and trestles and I quickly got pretty good at either skiing around them or walking the bridges with skis on.

Plenty of snow for a good ski!

Plenty of snow for a good ski!

I might have been the only person in a while with the idea of skiing this route but there was a well-worn snowshoe path to follow most of the way.  Seems there were plenty of people with a lot more extreme ideas than mine, as most of the tracks led either to the Willey Slide or to the Hitchcock Gully on the side of Mt. Willard for some ice-climbing.  My expedition was comparatively tame.  Here’s more about the history of the Willey Slide.

The awe-inspiring site of the Mt. Willard Section House

The awe-inspiring site of the Mt. Willard Section House

I especially enjoyed the site of the Mt. Willard Section House just uphill from the long trestle.

Crawford Notch from the trestle.  The Mt. Willard Section House site is just past the end of the bridge.

Crawford Notch from the trestle. The Mt. Willard Section House site is just past the end of the bridge.

Seems it was built for the railroad foreman, and from 1903 to 1942 it was home to Loring & Hattie Evans and their 4 children.  Sadly, Loring was killed in 1913 but Hattie stayed on and raised the kids here anyway, perched high above the Notch with the train as the only access.  Here’s a link to more information about them, with a neat old picture of the house, trestle, and train.  Anyway, I’m sure this is all standard stuff if you take the scenic railway.  But then again, taking the train doesn’t allow you to take your time and sit on the granite bench placed there.

View from the Mt. Willard Section House site.  Can you imagine growing up here?

View from the Mt. Willard Section House site. Can you imagine growing up here?

Another view from the house

Another view from the house

It seems that someone even brings potted flowers.  I enjoyed their sense of humor, with a small birdhouse whose roof is made from an old NH license plate!  I’ve decided this is now my favorite cellar hole in all of New Hampshire.

My half-way point - the top of Crawford Notch

My half-way point – the top of Crawford Notch

Before long I had reached the summit and it was time to head back down.  I had parked at the entrance to the Ethan Pond Trail so the whole trip was about 8 miles round trip.  The snow was starting to get soft so I was grateful when I was able to ski on the snowshoe tracks.

Going was slow because there were too many great places to stop for photos!

Going was slow because there were too many great places to stop for photos!

Once I got back to my car, the fastest way home was to head north, the way I had come.  I was treated to a visit by a friendly fox (hopefully not due to rabies) in the Willey House parking lot, and a most amazing view of the Mt. Washington Hotel.  What a spectacular day!

This little friend was waiting in the Willey House parking area

This little friend was waiting in the Willey House parking area

Mt. Washington and its eponymous hotel

Mt. Washington and its eponymous hotel

Happy travels!

 

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