Weekend at Loon Mountain NH 3/4-3/5
Don't know what it is about this place, but it grabbed me a long time ago and is still there. Thinking back about it, it probably started back as a kid when my folks took us to the NY Ski Show at the coliseum in Columbus Circle. I collected brochures and I remember my brother and I filled out coupons in the Loon brochure, sent them in, and Loon sent us back a poster size trail map (picture no names). That poster lived on my wall as a kid and was probably stared at more then any. Just for perspective Loon at that time consisted of the 4 Passenger gondola, Seven Brothers, Little Sister and East Basin double chairs (all Hall lifts for you lift junkies, SB and LS even had the wood slats). If I recall correctly they all were a kind of Burnt Orange color like the ski area Logo.
The old gondola cabin and ski area logo (burnt orange color scheme)
My dad finally took us there and while I don't really remember anything particular about that first visit, (except I liked it) there was a subsequent one I do remember. I went to visit my brother at Dartmouth and he had heard through some source that Loon had the best conditions in New Hampshire at the time, so off we went. Well that source may have been right as we (I) had a spectacular day and discovered one of my favorite places which I will discuss later. Lucky for me my wife really likes the place too so the trip (or 2) that we make each season has become an annual event.
Watching the forecast all week it was apparent to me that Lincoln was going to be above the big storm so I kept my expectations in check. The big issue for us was getting there if we traveled Friday as originally planned, so I called in work booked a cheap room at the Days Inn near Franconia Notch and drove into the early am getting up there before anything hit.
I had hopes of maybe scoring another ski day but they were dashed upon waking up to rain Friday. My work left me alone but the wifes got a hold of her and so she worked till we had to get out of 1 room and then we did some shopping to kill time till we could get into the place we booked. (they were great and lets us get in early PM). Also took a drive past the ski area up the Kancamagus towards the pass. Was raining at the ski area base (about 900') but as we climbed toward the pass it turned to snow. We ended up turning around at Discovery Trail Head about 1500' in the snow. (we could have made it up but thought better of it). Yea we probably could have been ok skiing up at North Peak but by that time cocktails and the jacuzzi at the hotel were calling louder then the slopes so thats what won.
Saturday March 3.
Nice little coffee maker in the room made getting up and out early easy and we arrived at the mountain at 7:30, 1/2 hour before opening. Good parking, no ticket line, stepped on to the gondola at about 8:05.
Good parking spot
First 3 runs were fast gondola cruisers. Picked Rock and Flying Fox were fast. When I say fast I mean frozen and fast. The temperature was right around freezing, but the top of the mountain was pretty much frozen up solid. The beautiful thing was the sun was making an appearance and on the 3rd run T2B down Speakeasy we found the bottom half softening and decided the right move was to stay down on Kanc quad. It was as we had several just beautiful runs over in that area.
Frozen and fast Upper Picked Rock early am
Pickaroon actually not too bad
Lower Northstar about 9:30 am starting to soften and really skiing nice
Blue sky becoming more and more as the the day progressed :)]
About 11'ish we decided to hit the summit again and hit the gondola. Lines were nothing but reasonable and we made it to the summit in good time and decided to go for Angel Street. My wife loves steep groomers and usually Angel Street is just that. Unfortunately it was not so friendly that run. I would describe it as chunky and it while she handled it just fine it spooked her ever so slightly so when we got down to Camp III we took a break for the facilities and a cup of coffee.
About a 1/2 hour later we went back out and hit North Peak, Walking Boss was in great shape and we really enjoyed that run, Flume was decent too but a little slicker. There were some seeded bumps at the bottom of Flume but they were roped off (No closed signs though) so I didn't try them. Found out later they were for a kids competition Sunday so I'm glad I didn't.
Modern conveniences are great but can be a thorn as well. 3rd trip up North Peak the cell phone rang and the seasonal renters of the family place down in Florida had a issue so we did a T2B run down to the lodge were my wife had to go off (put a charge on her dead phone first) and take care of some business. So I took off for some solo time.
That trip I mentioned earlier with my brother had taught me about my favorite place on Loon Mountain and I headed right for it. The East Basin. The woods were unfortunately out of play this weekend but the natural bumps were not. The sun was out bathing the slopes and a few people were starting to take runs down the Triple Trouble, Big Dipper Combo. I was one of them.
The East Basin
Bottom of Big Dipper. Use this picture to note some of the sketchiness (On left there)
The Triple Trouble, Big Dipper Combo
Had a blast doing each one twice. There was some sketchiness on both runs at certain points. A couple of spots where it was better to take the tops of the bumps instead of the troughs, but it was wonderful to be out there bashing away in the full on sun. I love March skiing and those are two of my favorite runs anywhere. Nothing better
Views up and down Triple Trouble.
Finally got the text that the work was done, so I headed down to the base to see the wife.
Pickaroon down to the base.
I only show it because it was the last run of the day. She didn't mention that the ski boots were off and the wine was in hand and she was holding down a good spot on the deck.
One of the things I like about Loon so much is the facilities there. Camp III is in my opinion a beautiful facility and has a great deck for sitting out on and soaking up the sun with beautiful views of the Surrounding White Mountains.
The wife had staked out a nice spot on the deck in front of Paul Bunyon Room in the Octagon Lodge. Great deck, great location, and great place and good crowd. Unfortunately for me I'm not a beer drinker (prefer hard spirits) but I got by with a Twisted Tea and enjoyed the scene. I understand there is a regular bar in the other lodge however on a beautiful spring like day who wants to be inside.
The Apres scene in front of the Octagon Lodge
This to me is an underrated ski town. hardly mentioned anywhere. We stayed at the Lodge at Lincoln Station. Not cheap but not that out of control either. We had a nice room with a King size bed, large TV, fridge and as mentioned before the all important coffee maker. Because we are basically empty nesters at this point and we both enjoy Loon one of our criteria is to try to arrange for lodging with a Jacuzzi tub even if we have to pay slightly more for it. This place had a nice facility with pool and hot tube attached. Friday we had a nice tub before people were arriving for the weekend. Saturday we were lucky enough to get in and out before the hoards of kids came and took over. Overall very happy with this arrangement.
Lodge at Lincoln Station (South Peak Trails in back ground)
Another great thing was that with in walking (or crawling if needed) distance from the Lodge is Gordi's. Probably the biggest tourist trap eatery in Lincoln, but I like it. I particularly like the bar areas and all the skiing decorations they have. The bar staff was nice and we met a couple very nice people there who were Loon regulars and had short but delightful conversations with them.
Don't know why the size is different here but if you look hard at the poster on the far left of the picture there is a " K2 Wants You" Uncle Sam poster. Another one that adorned my walls as a youth and what I was trying to capture. The little pub there is kind of like a little museum to me. Really cool.
Only thing that bummed us out was we spied a little Ice Cream shop riding into town and thought, Oh that would be neat. So we took off on a hike to get some after dinner Saturday. Of course what dopes buy ice cream at a stand in New Hampshire in the middle of winter? Wrong season, had to settle for Price Chopper and the hotel room after a good laugh at ourselves.
356 x 266 - 23K
352 x 266 - 19K
359 x 267 - 22K
287 x 215 - 15K
358 x 266 - 17K
287 x 215 - 11K
234 x 172 - 9K