Trails: Coppermine Trail, abandoned Coppermine Ski Trail
Mileage/gain: ~6 miles, ~1400' of gain, time of ~2.5 hours
This past summer and fall I ended up hiking the Coppermine Trail twice, and vowed to return in the winter, not only to see the falls, but also to ski at least a portion of the old ski trail. A late wake up led me to a very busy Sunrise Shack, an always delicious breakfast, and unfortunately cloudy skies. Thankfully, as I tooled along Route 3 toward Franconia, blue skies appeared, and the temperature started rising. Booting up, I had to walk a short portion of the road, before turning onto the trail proper and putting on my skis.
I had a warm and sunny climb up to the falls, the sound of my skins accompanying me on the way. Coppermine Brook was still buried under the great mantle of the winters accumulated snowfall, only a muffled trickle could be heard. While the calender might say it's spring, it's still winter in the hills. I saw no one during the climb until I neared the shelter, and saw a couple heading down. They warned me about the large group at the falls (there was a small bus in the parking area), but the group of students were pleasant and never were in my way. The falls were excellent in their frozen state, and I was able to ski right up to the base of the ice. A gorgeous spot made better by the season.
|Going to be nice and cruisy on the way out|
Now came the fun. With skins still on, I swooped down the ledges by the falls, and got some glide going past the group at the shelter, before I ended up at the bottom of the abandoned ski trail. The initial pitch is steep, necessitating skinning off to the edge in one spot. Hooking to the left, the trail moderated, and I climbed in the sun, the snow softening beneath my skis. Surprisingly, I ran into a couple on snowshoes, happy to be out on the first full day of spring. I skied up to the point where the trail narrowed and started to contour on the slope, just before the upper crossing of the brook. A snack in the sun on this piece of New England skiing history was just what the doctor ordered.
On with the skis, it was time for the down! The sun and warm temps had softened things up, more than they were, even in the short time of my break. Turns were easy and very buttery, and the section of the old trail skied very well. Dropping down the steep lower section, I got over the bridge, and started down the official trail. While not the most exciting trail to ski down, it was still a pleasure to glide out, making turns occasionally on steeper portions. I ended up passing the groups I'd seen at the falls, all were surprised to see me again.
|It was super good|
Much like the previous day, I'd done my due for the day, and didn't feel like doing more. Along the way back to Conway, I stopped at the viewpoint on 302 by the Mount Washington Hotel, because things were overtly dramatic on the Presidentials.
I already like calling this place home, it just feels natural.