Saturday dawned with amazing blue skies after 4-6″ of fresh light powder fell in the Franconia Notch region. Originally, the plan was to tackle Burke and enjoy some refreshments in the Lyndonville area before and after. However, a report of fresh light powder at Cannon Mountain had me thinking otherwise and I was unable to by pass Cannon while heading North on Interstate 93. Parking at the Tram Building, I opted for the powder boards and anxiously headed inside to boot up in time for the first tracks Tram at 8:15AM. While boarding the Tram, I was surprised by the number of folks on AT gear as I was, mostly sporting the Freeride.
Upon reaching the Summit, decisions had to be made. I could either nail a top to bottom hard scrabble run while the getting was good or make a B-line for the Saddle. I opted for the Saddle with the deciding factor being the delayed opening of the Cannonball Quad which would further delay a return to the summit. Whereas a Saddle run would take plenty of time allowing for the delay to catch up to my tracks.
The hike up the Saddle was simply amazing with fantastic colors and photo opportunities everywhere. The trees were especially spectacular as they were coated with white candy. Disappointment was had on my first run down Taft as I noticed that the powder was less than Cannon had stated and had fallen over a thin coating of NCP making for interesting turns in conditions best described as “Dust on Crust.” I didn’t let conditions on Taft hold my disappointment as conditions below the Taft were amazing in places and worthy of four hikes up and three hikes back which ties my perpetual Saddle in a Day high of Four.
Back on Cannon proper, I changed to rock skis after two hikes up as turning on crust and scraped was clearly more imperative than enjoying the limited amount of powder turns to be found. Taft Slalom to the Hards was fantastic with choice bumps on Mid-Hard featuring the occasional thin cover especially on the last pitch. The thin cover wasn’t stopping the masses who can not even make a parallel turn from attempting it. Boggles the mind, it does.
The Front Face was a mixed bag with Skier’s Right bumps on Rocket being in better shape than usual and Zoomer being in general worse shape than usual. Decent pushed over snow was found directly under the Zoomer Triple Chair which is one of my personal favorite spots for showing off some fantastic turns. Paulie’s took the cake for the Front Face with some tricky bumps spaced slightly too far apart with occasional scrape and thin cover in between. A fun run for it’s challenge but better snow conditions were desired. Avalanche was in fairly poor condition on it’s edges with a brutally groomed track down the center.
Overall it was a fantastic day with decent fresh snow and occasional untracked to be found. I can’t say I made a mistake in choosing Cannon over Burke, but it leaves me wondering how Burke was this weekend. I will have to await next weekend to answer that question in person.