Closing day at Wildcat Mountain in the White Mountain National Forest. Many trails were open that required side slipping, grass walking, or precision skiing to bypass snowless sections. Skiing was amazing for so late in April! The top section of the old Gondola Liftline was particularly satisfying and challenging. While I often take issue with Wildcat’s management, pricing structure, and operations, I can not fault Wildcat for opening a respectable amount of terrain for just one more day of Spring Skiing.
The plan was originally made a week ago; before it snowed. The plan was to hike a lower elevation mountain with good views such as Mount Monadnock or the Welch-Dickey Loop in Waterville Valley. The southern facing trails on such mountains were completely snow free by the last day of March and I was itching to get a jump on hiking season. With most ski resorts reporting lots of bare ground, slushy snow, and low trail counts… I planned to hike instead. Little did I know that I would be hiking in ski boots up a well known saddle on the northern flank of Cannon to Mount Jackson instead.
With the 2002-2003 Ski Season winding down, I returned to Magic Mountain to pay my final respects to Southern Vermont’s finest ski area for the season. I met Mr. Otter mid-way through the afternoon. We explored many aspects of Magic Mountain including a jaunt over to neighboring and defunct Timberside (which now primarily is utilized as a Snow Mobile mountain). The remains of an old double chairlift remain near the summit. A narrow ribbon of white allowed passage back to Magic Mountain proper after the side show. Coverage at Magic Mountain was very good for mid-March.
Standing at the entrance of Master Magician is like standing before the alter — you have two choices: “I Do” or “I Do Not.” Prior to making this decision, you reflect upon your vows: “Do you promise to love, honor, and cherish every sweet turn?” “Do you swear to find the most perfect line and commit yourself to the steepest fall line possible?” “Do you pledge to respect the snow and your fellow skiers above all else?” “Do you take this mountain, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do you part?” You calmly state the words: “I Do.”
In the back of your mind, you hear the declaration: “I now pronounce you Skier and Mountain.”
Magic Mountain once proclaimed Master Magician as the steepest in-bounds trail in Vermont. This declaration went unchallenged for many years. While there may currently be a handful of steeper trails in Vermont; including sections of Magic Mountain’s own lift line trails Red Line and Black Line, Master Magician remains a true challenge and a classic in the annals of New England Skiing.
Finishing up a week long winter vacation, I found myself with my dad at Tenney Mountain. This was our first visit to the mid-sized intermediate oriented ski area at the foothills of the White Mountains. After years of troubled ownership, Tenney found itself reopened for 2003.
I found Tenney’s consistently intersecting trails to devalue the character of the terrain. Individual trails generally lacked character since most trails lacked individuality. Even those trails that were not bisected multiple times generally failed to offer any special topographical or visual features of interest. Tenney is a very affordable mountain that is excellent for families, first timers, beginners and intermediates. Hopefully Tenney can dial in its niche market as it is a good mountain but it may lack long term viability.