The temps might be cold, but if you bundle up, keep active, and stay in the woods, you can stay very comfortable. For this adventure, Andrew and I went to explore the newest cross-country ski center in the White Mountains of New Hampshire: Ski Hearth Farm in Sugar Hill. We learned about this place from an article in a local paper which mentioned that the ski touring center was open for its’ first season this year, and no fees would be collected until they had a chance to amend a conservation easement. It is also an active growing farm with a CSA that we plan to join for fresh veggies all summer long.
The workers that we encountered were friendly and knowledgeable about the farm and area. Early in the last century this farm used to be a ski lodge turned farm, and has now resurrected to a cross-country ski touring center in the winter and large farm in the summer.
It’s been over two years since Lindsay had stepped onto her skis and we were both delightfully surprised that she hadn’t lost everything that she’d learned over the last 7+ years of skiing. We wanted to get out of the windy open trails so we headed straight for the woods for some wind break. We took the Red Loop to the Orange Loop to the Yellow Loops to the Upper Pink and back down through the Yellow, Orange, and Red.
This trail system as well as others in our area were designed by former Olympian skier John Morton. This one being especially interesting as each loop slowly gains elevation over moderately long distances without too much effort, but at the same time a quicker exciting descent can be made by linking steeper sections of the loops.
The trails were expertly groomed and we were the first ones to make tracks on these trails on this morning. As we climbed higher up hill toward the yellow trails the forest changed from a mixed hardwoods and softwoods to a northern hardwood forest. Even though the temperatures were below zero, the sun shone brightly overhead and we had a wonderful time skiing.
There were a few black diamond sections, but nothing too hard (or that a snowplow couldn’t help slide around a corner). Before we headed back down toward the farm we pulled out a thermos of hot chocolate and had a cup full to energize our descent.
We hope to come back to Ski Hearth Farm again soon and explore the other trails. Rentals are available everyday and the trails are open from 8:30am to 4pm. You are greeted in a rustic lodge heated by a woodstove, that has ample room to change into boots or sit at tables to enjoy a snack. And this is the year (2014-2015) to check them out for free!