By Lloyd Jones
Stella — the winter storm that walloped the Granite State on Tuesday — was a welcome sight to winter enthusiasts. The 15-20 inches of snow Mother Nature dropped, along with five perfect days of snowmaking weather prior to the blizzard, have made it look more like mid-January than mid-March here in happy valley.
It's a big difference from a year ago. The final Snow Report of 2016 appeared in our March 12 issue. At that time, Black Mountain had closed for the season; Wildcat in Pinkham Notch had just 16 of 48 trails open; Bretton Woods, at the top of Crawford Notch, reported only 33 of 62 trails open; and Bear Notch Ski Touring Center, just west of Bartlett Village, was the lone cross-country skiing center still open.
Today, every downhill area is open, with each mountain reporting 90 percent or more of its trails in dynamite condition. The Nordic folks are smiling from ear-to-ear with a base that is still 30 or more inches deep in places. Temperatures will continue to be below average, meaning April skiing is in the cards.
"This is my type of winter," Doug Garland of Bear Notch Ski Touring Center said Thursday. "It was a good storm. Fifteen inches of dense snow is much better than 18 inches of fluff."
Garland said the entire western network at Bear Notch has been groomed for the weekend.
"It's great from Attitash Mountain Village to the Yates Farm," he said. "It's fabulous skiing. Certainly the best its been this late into the season in a long, long time. We're looking to be able to provide great ski conditions well into April."
From Black Mountain in Jackson: "Gorgeous conditions, no lift lines and cold beer in the Lostbo Pub; this is spring skiing at its finest, come on up and play!"
For St. Paddy's on Friday, Jackson Ski Touring Foundation got into the spirit, noting: "Happy St. Patricks Day! You may not find green beer and Leprechauns on our trails today, but you will find over 50 kilometers of perfectly packed powder! Winter storm Stella covered us with a blanket of white this past week, and we could not be happier. Grab your skis, the conditions are fantastic!"
Here were conditions as of Friday:
• Attitash Ski Area (603-374-2368; www.attitash.com): 64 trails open, seven of 10 lifts; 245 acres. March 18: "U Go Girl" Race No. 3, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. This race supports Jen's Friends Cancer Foundation. March 25: Grandstand Mogul Jam, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Competitors in the best of two-run format will be judged on turns, line and air. March 26: Youth Pay Their Age Day, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Those under age 17 get to pay their age for a lift ticket. March 18: Ptarmigan's Pub Apres Ski, 2:30-5:30 p.m, The Conniption Fits. March 18: Bears Den Apres Ski, 2-4:30 p.m., Steve Hadichuk.
• Black Mountain (603-383-4490; www.blackmt.com): 38 of 45 trails, two of five lifts; 130 acres. March 18: Last Tracks with Moat Mountain. Take the lift up at 4 p.m., light appetizers and a Moat Mountain Brewery tasting followed by a ski down a freshly groomed trail by moonlight (or headlamp). Reservations recommended; call (603) 383-4490. Apres ski in the Lostbo Pub: March 25: Pond Skim. March 18 (3:30 p.m.), Acoustic Stew and Moat Mountain. March 19 (3:30 p.m.), Greg Walsh.
• Bretton Woods (603-278-3320; www.brettonwoods.com): 61 of 62 trails; eight of 10 lifts; 463 acres. March 18: Planatarium Presentation: 5-6 p.m. in the Omni Mount Washington Resort. Join astronomy professor Douglas Arion for an adventure into the wonders of the universe. See the sky and explore the beautiful patterns of stars we see at night. March 19: Season Pass Holder's Appreciation, 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. with pastries in the morning followed by a barbecue on the Slopeside Patio. Complimentary for passholders; $20 for non-season pass folks. March 18: Adult Apres Ski Party, 2:30-5:30 p.m.; Children's Apres Ski Party, 3:30-5 p.m.
• Cranmore Mountain Resort (603-356-5543; www.cranmore.com): 50 of 57 trails, six of seven lifts.; 155 acres. Tubing and Mountain Adventure Park open Saturdays 9 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sundays 9 a.m.-4 p.m. March 18: Cranapalooza, Cranmore's signature winter event, features DJ dance parties in Schneider Square with C-more the Penguin, live music and s'mores. March 11: Fireworks, 6:30 p.m., South Slope. March 18: Sam Adams 3-D Air & Apres Show, noon-10 p.m. World class ski and snowboard athletes and Hollywood quality 3-D mapping projection creating an apres ski/snowboard party not to be missed. March 18: "Has Been, Never Was Cup" Jam Session, registration at 10 a.m. in Zip's Pub. Riders age 30 and older will be showcasing their classic style and best throwback tricks for rider-judged bragging rights. March 18: Live music in Zip's Pub, 3-6 p.m.
• King Pine (603-367-8896; www.kingpine.com): All 17 trails and four of five lifts. Tubing. Twisted Pine Terrain Park. Night skiing Fridays, Saturdays and Tuesdays, and Kids Fun Race Saturdays at 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Saturday night family racing, 6-8 p.m. March 18: Guided snowshoe tour at 12:15 p.m. March 18: Jonathan Sarty Apres Ski Party at Trails End Tavern, (3-6 p.m.). March 19: Cardboard Box Derby. Build a cardboard box racer (for two or four racers) with your own theme and theme music and race down a special course. Register in fireplace room before noon. March 26: Pond Skimming-Beach Party, noon. End ski season with a splash.
• Wildcat (603-466-3326; www.skiwildcat.com): 48 of 48 trails open, four of five lifts; 225 acres. Apres ski at the Wildcat Pub includes: March 18, 2-5 p.m., Shot of JD. March 11. March: 25: RadioBDC Coors Light Drafters. March 26: Youth Pay Their Age Day, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. All those under the age of 17 get to pay their age for a lift ticket.
• Bear Notch Ski Touring and Snowshoe Center (603-374-2277); www.bearnotchskitouring.com): 50 of 70K classic and 40K skate groomed. Lessons and guided snowshoe tours on a 65-kilometer trail network that goes along the Saco River and the Bartlett Experimental Forest. Well-behaved dogs and their owners welcome. Hot soups in the warming shack.
• Bretton Woods Ski Touring (603-278-3322; www.brettonwoods.com): 52 of 54 trails are skate groomed and are track set. 2017-2018 Bretton Woods Nordic Season Pass are on sale now; and the earlier you purchase your pass, the bigger the savings. For information on the season passes contact the Nordic Center at (603) 278-3322 or go to our website at www.brettonwoods.com. .
• Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center (603-466-2333; www.greatglentrails.com): 19 of 20K classic and 24 of 25K skate groomed. Snow Coach Tours throughout the season. Fat bike rentals and trails. Tubing hill.
• Jackson Ski Touring Center (603-383-9355; www.jacksonxc.org): 120 of 154K skate and classic groomed terrain. Guided weekly snowshoe nature tours Saturdays and Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.; Tuesday Trekkers Snowshoe Tours. Friday Gliders and Easy Sliders cross country program. March 12: Full Moon Guided Snowshoe Tours (6-8 p.m.). Advance reservations required. Call (603) 383-9355. March 11: NCAA 2017 National Collegiate Men's and Women's Skiing Championships. See www.ncaa.com/liveschedule.
• MWV Ski Touring and Snowshoe Center (603-356-9920; www.mwvskitouring.org): 45K skate and track groomed; 45K of snowshoe trails. Fat bike riding on 2K of multi-use trails in Whitaker Woods. Weekly guided snowshoe with a naturalist tours Saturdays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
• The Reserve at King Pine (603-367-8896; www.kingpine.com): 14 trails, 20K track and skate groomed. Amenities include sleigh rides, a covered skating rink, snow tubing and cross-country skiing on a 20-kilometer reserve. Sleigh rides (call 1-800-373-3754 for reservations, limited seating available).
• 100 Acre Wood (603-356-9980; www.believeinbooks.org): Offers weekly programs and 10K of skiing throughout the season.
• Biathlon Series: Two biathlon race leagues are being offered by the Jackson Biathlon Range Wednesdays and Sundays. For further information, visit www.jacksonbiathlon.org.
Looking for some fun skating? Check out the Ham Ice Arena in Conway (603-447-5886; www.hamarena.com), which offers public skating, stick-and-puck sessions and rentals, or visit King Pine (603-367-8896; www.purityspring.com) in East Madison, which offers skating at its covered Tohko Dome.