We all have our own internal temperature gauge. Some people can handle 30 degrees and some people cannot. During the winter, my gauge registers pretty low compared to the general population, meaning cold digits don’t usually scare me from getting outdoors. But this past Sunday morning, when the outside thermometer read 3.2 degrees at 8 am, I started whimpering when I thought about my plans to ski at Mount Sunapee.
Before I left for the mountain–when the temperature was barely 4 degrees–I thought how nice life could be if I were one of those people who spends her winter days indoors with a steaming cup of hot chocolate and a stack of books. But, no, I am one of those people who makes plans to do things outdoors when even furry woodland creatures are hibernating.
Of course after all that dread of frigid cold, as soon as I was in the lift line at Mount Sunapee, I could feel sweat trickling down my back. As I stowed my neck gator, removed my hand warmers, and opened my jacket’s pit zips, I realized that I was overdressed. In fact, it was a balmy15 degrees with the sun beating down. Those few degrees may not seem like a lot, but I felt the difference. In fact, just as the weatherman predicted, it was in the mid-twenties by the afternoon, the perfect temperature for late-January skiing, especially with bluebird skies.
Mt. Sunapee is located in Newbury, in western New Hampshire’s Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee Region, about 90 minutes from Boston and two and half hours from Hartford. This past Sunday, the mountain hosted the Bob Skinner Cup, a USSA Giant Slalom race for for JIV & JV racers. These kids, all under 14 years of age, were zipping along in their race suits with big smiles on their faces, while doting moms and dads cheered for them from the side of the trail.
One of the things (though there are many!) that I love most about Mt. Sunapee is the “Beach.” Not to be confused with the actual beach at Lake Sunapee, just down the road, the Beach at Mt. Sunapee is the snow that stretches between Sunapee Lodge and Spruce Lodge. Whenever I’ve skied this mountain, the Beach is filled with happy tailgaters who barbecue and celebrate the day on the slopes. The festive scene and the smell of hamburgers and hot dogs wafting through the air always gives a positive ski-friendly vibe. (NOTE: Be sure to check out another favorite of mine, the Summit Lodge located at the peak of the Sunapee Express Quad. Head inside to warm your toes in front of a real crackling open hearth fireplace and fill your belly with a Belgian waffle or carbs from the make-your-own macaroni and cheese bar.)
As the “youngsters” were racing gates, I did laps on my favorite run of the day, Upper Flying Goose off of the North Peak Triple, which was all bumped up. Since I love to ski moguls this was perfect for me. It’s also a great spot for those practicing their bump skiing skills since the sides of the trail are groomed flat and mogul-free if an escape route is needed.
The rest of the mountain lived up to the accolades it gets each year from SKI Magazine readers: It’s averaged a top three ranking in the East for both Grooming and Snow Quality for 13 consecutive years in the Annual SKI Magazine Reader Survey.
After a day on Sunapee’s slopes, I headed to Lake Sunapee for an après-ski kite lesson. Amidst the ice fishing bob houses on the frozen surface, a few skiers were enjoying some late afternoon kite skiing in the light wind, while I learned the basics of flying the kite so I would be ready for my next adventure. The kite serves as a “sail” and pulls the skier or rider across the ice. Skiing and sailing at the same time? Sign me up!