By Paul E. Kandarian, Globe Correspondent
Summer seems a long way off, but if you plan ahead, and like your travel on the adventurous side,ELC Rafting of Berlin, N.H., is combining a floatplane ride with a whitewater rafting trip this summer, which has just been named a certified “Grand Adventure” by New Hampshire Grand, the official visitor information source for the Great North Woods and northern White Mountains. ELC’s “Get Your Feet Off the Ground” Rapid River package leaves from Lake Umbagog in Errol, where patrons hitch a ride on a floatplane to Lakewood Camps on the shores of Lower Richardson Lake in Maine. There, they will leave on a rafting journey that includes Rapid River rapids designated from class two to four as they make their way back to Lake Umbagog. The trips start July 19. For information, visit www.nhrafting.com
New Hampshire Grand also recently named several “Best Of” businesses, including Moose Muck Coffee House in Colebrook; Orvis Outfitters at the Cabins at Lopstick in
Pittsburg; and Porky Gulch Bike Shop and Gateway Gallery and Gifts, both in
For information on all Grand Adventure offerings in the Granite State, visit www.nhgrand.com
The Wildcat Inn and Tavern’s “$50 and free” promotion is back for a third straight year, and it has to be one of the best dine-and-stay packages we’ve seen in all of New England.
Here’s the deal: Spend $50 or more in the tavern or dining room at the Jackson, N.H. inn, and you’ll receive a free room for two for the night. Other than calling in advance - at least 24 hours - and making your reservation, it really is that easy, and it’s also available on weekends.
Even better, should you only spend $30-40 on food and drinks, your room for the evening will be only $10-20 depending on how far you get to $50. The deal is good through Dec. 15, and reservations can be made for more than one night.
For more information, visit wildcattavern.com/50andfree.html, and to book, call 603-356-8700 or 603-383-4245.
More than 100 maple sugar producers are opening their doors this weekend throughout the New England, as both Vermont and New Hampshire host open houses, giving visitors the chance to enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at the process of making maple syrup.
Open houses will be held in both states March 23-24, featuring free samples of the goods, and in some cases, horse-drawn rides, snowshoeing, and pancake breakfasts. Here’s a complete list of participants and activities in Vermont, as well as a list of who’s who in New Hampshire.
If you can’t make it this weekend and are still interested in the process, here’s what you need to know.
By Kari Bodnarchuk, Globe Correspondent
Explore Waterville Valley by moonlight or headlamp during twilight dogsled rides through March. Valley Snow Dogz runs excursions Friday and Saturday nights, led by owner and -year mushing veteran Lidia Dale-Mesaros. Choose the 20-minute Valley Taster, when you will get to experience mushing on an open golf course near Town Square, or the new 40-minute Mountain Taster, which heads for a campground and then finishes after a good downhill stretch. On both trips, you get to meet the guides, ask questions, and get your photo taken with the dogs. Rates: $35 Valley Taster, $65 Mountain Taster. Participants must be 7 and older. 603-236-8175, www.valleysnowdogz.com
Check out the latest outdoor gear and put it to the test for free at the Joe Dodge Lodge in Pinkham Notch, at the base of New Hampshire’s Mount Washington. The lodge, run by the Appalachian Mountain Club, just opened an outdoor gear demo center for lodge guests, enabling them to try out Lowa boots, Leki hiking poles, Osprey backpacks, and Hillsound traction devices, which fit over boots and help keep you upright on slick trails. Equipment is available in all adult sizes, and in children’s sizes for boots and poles. Find something you like and you can get a discount to purchase the same or similar items at the AMC’s Pinkham Notch visitors center. Demo gear is available on a first-come, first-served basis. 603-466-2727, www.outdoors.org/pinkham
If your vehicle totes one of the most ubiquitous bumper stickers in all of New England, you're in line for a free trip to the highest point in the region.
In celebration of its 151st birthday, the Mount Washington Auto Road is offering all visitors who feature the "This Car Climbed Mount Washington" bumper sticker free passage to the summit on Aug. 8, the same date the attraction opened in 1861. While stage drivers were the primary way to travel road back then, significant improvements over the past century have made the road one of the premier attractions in the entire Northeast.
"We are tremendously aware of the history that has taken place here and are very proud to be celebrating 151 years of continuous operation, including being run by the same family for more than a century," Howie Wemyss, general manager of the Auto Road said. "A drive up the Auto Road is the closest you can get to time travel."
At the summit, an informal celebration, including a cake commemorating the road's 151st birthday will be held during the day and free cake will be served, first come, first served.
A team of sled dogs and mushers from Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel of Jefferson, N.H., will attempt a history-making ascent on Mount Washington, which at 6,288 feet is the highest peak in the Northeast, March 7, 8 or 9, depending on weather conditions. The run will not just be to make history -- it will be the first-ever sled-dog attempt in winter -- but to raise awareness and funds to support the more than 100 dogs the kennel has rescued and cared for over the past eight years, said kennel owners Karen Tolin and Neil Beaulieu.
The partners created the non-profit New Hampshire Sled Dog Rescue, History and Education Center earlier this year to support their cause: Taking in rescue dogs to run sled tours year round near the Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods (they use wheeled sleds when the snow goes away) and give the pooches a place to live while trying to find them new owners. Many of the dogs love tromping through the woods pulling a sled, Tolin said, but none are forced to do it. Those preferring a more sedentary lifestyle are found homes via a very selective adoption process, she said.
The kennel was created in 2004, and while technically a for-profit business, it never makes any, Tolin said. The kennel business creates no salary for the owners, neither of whom have ever drawn a salary and both of whom work in education to support themselves and their labor of puppy love. Whatever money is generated from the tours goes right back to the dogs.
"Dog sledding is an unsustainable model as a sole source of supporting the dogs," Tolin said. "They eat five tons of food every two months."
They came up with the sled jaunt to the top of Mount Washington to build awareness of the nonprofit and raise money for the dogs. In addition to one team making a full-out assault on the summit via the Auto Road, seats on two others "guest sleds," which will run only to just above tree line, will be auctioned off on eBay. That site is http://www.ebay.com/itm/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=120860877148
Sponsorships are also being sought, Tolin said. Go to http://www.dogslednh.com/ or call 603-545-4533 for more information.
Shh-h-h-h-h! Don't tell the kids, but after the guests repair to their rooms following Thanksgiving dinner at the Mountain View Grand in Whitefield, N.H., all the resort's elves get to work. They transform the immense hilltop inn from an autumn getaway into a Christmas season destination by decking the halls and hanging wreaths everywhere.
There's a big Christmas tree in the main lobby and some years Santa's helpers manage to erect a smaller one near the fireplace in the cozy Dodge Lounge. Wooden “soldiers” like figures from The Nutcracker stand sentinel at the ends of the corridors. In fact, the 6-foot-tall soldiers are all over the hotel at the holidays, rather like the army of Christmas. Mind you, the effect of all the decorations is like a Victorian Christmas--gleeful without being gaudy. Most guests know in advance about the overnight transformation, but it still comes as a treat to the kids. So mum's the word. Instead of standing in a mall parking lot, Black Friday at the Mountain View Grand is like a preview of Christmas morning. Mountain View Grand, Mountain View Rd., Whitefield, N.H.; (866) 484-3843; www.mountainviewgrand.com.
The FLICKERS North Country Film Festival (NCFF) is just one more reason to book a stay at The Balsams this week. NCFF is a non-profit festival promoting New Hampshire’s Great North Woods as a regional center for the arts, and will be held September 30 through October 3, with screenings of a variety of films in multiple locations and gala events. The Festival's big name this year is Hollywood screenwriter [and Rhode Island native], Chris Sparling, whose credits include the suspense thriller BURIED starring Ryan Reynolds, and who is working on a film with M. Night Shyamalan.
At least sixty films are scheduled, including 37 short films, 6 feature narrative films and 18 documentaries. Festival rates for film screenings are only $10 per 2 hour +/- block. A full access pass for all three days of the festival is $45. Featured event pricing including the Red Carpet Opening Night, NHPTV Reception and more can be found online.
Room rates for Friday and Saturday nights (October 1 and 2) start at $229.00 per person, per night, double occupancy, taxes not included. Guests staying Thursday night also will receive a free room upgrade. This rate includes free admission to the festival, breakfast and dinner, including the famous BALSAMS Table d’hôte dinner, unlimited golf and full use of resort facilities. Festival attendees interested in staying at The BALSAMS are invited to call (800) 255-0600, email or visit online for full rate information.
Photo of Chris Sparling; courtesy FLICKERS
Last week we got word that extreme sports star Travis Pastrana became the fastest person to reach the summit of Mt. Washington, racing up the auto road in just 6 minutes, 20.47 seconds. Well, now sponsor Red Bull has released video of the feat. Jiggy.
It's one of those sports where specific training may not be required. The world of tricycle racing has come along way this decade, and the Red Parka Pub World Championship Tricycle Grand Prix this Saturday, Sept. 18, celebrates the sport with gusto.
The 2nd Annual World Championship Tricycle Grand Prix takes place at Black Mountain in Jackson, N.H. and comes with a guaranteed load of thrills, chills and laughter. Come just to watch or muster up the courage, or the shamelessness, to take part in lots of downhill fun on championship trike-bikes. No worries, there are race categories and events for all ages. It’s fun for the whole family, and remember, you’re never too old to ride a trike! Call 603-383-4344 for details or look online - for lodging rates too.
Photo courtesy Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce
We assume he got the "This car climbed Mt. Washington" bumper sticker as well.
Extreme sports competitor Travis Pastrana became the fastest person to reach the summit of Mt. Washington on Wednesday, racing up the auto road in just 6 minutes, 20.47 seconds. Pastrana averaged 72 miles per hour on the 7.6-mile road in a special Subaru Impreza rally car.
The Mt. Washington auto road climbs 4,618 feet with an average gradient of 11.6 percent.
Remarkably, it was Pastrana's first-ever high-speed attempt to reach the summit. The previous record of six minutes and 42 seconds was set in 1998 by Frank Sprongl (below).
Pastrana's feat was part of a test session in advance of next year's return of the "Climb to the Clouds," the auto race which will be making a return to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the auto road, following a 10-year absence.
"It's amazing that he was able to drive that car to the summit in 6:20, and all the more so when you realize that he and his co-driver had just seen the auto road for the first time the day before," auto road GM Howie Wemyss said in a statement. "Our racing heritage here at the Auto Road runs deep, having started in 1904 and now Travis is part of that heritage as the fastest person to the summit by automobile."
Here's Pastrana starting out his attempt:
There's a reason every season to pass through the White Mountains and land at the grandest of the grand hotels - The Balsams. This weekend the reason is the North Country Grand Lumberjack Challenge.
Lumberjack competitors from across New England and even Quebec, will be showing off their skills in crosscut, sawing, log rolling and more. What can visitors do? Plenty! Beyond cheering for your favorite lumberjack, visitors can take part in activities like a 5K run, helicopter rides, a pie eating contest and more. Proceeds benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, which aims to help our wounded Veterans receive care and services. Cost for adults, $5; children under 12 are free. Call 800-255-0600 for more information.
Photo courtesy of the Balsams
Shed your stress and soak up the views on a retreat atop New England's highest peak. Symmetree Yoga starts its Mount Washington Yoga Adventure retreats this spring, led by yoga instructors and experienced mountain guides. Go on a guided hike or drive to the top of the 6,288-foot peak, practice yoga and meditation amid the mountain vistas, and then hike back to the car or down through White Mountain National Forest to Pinkham Notch.
Two-night packages include daily breakfast and dinner, a boxed lunch, yoga instruction, a massage, and lodging at Peace With-Inn Bed and Breakfast in nearby Fryeburg, Maine. Retreats start at $390 per person (with massage) or $325 (without), based on double occupancy. 603-662-8664, http://www.symmetreeyoga.com
Photo: Symmetree Yoga
Posted by Kari Bodnarchuk, Globe correspondent
March may yet come in like a lion (and a potential storm at the tail end of this weekend is doing its best to assure us of that), but Wildcat Mountain is roaring into the month with some of the best deals of the season thus far.
On consecutive Fridays next month, March 13 and 20, the Jackson, N.H. is offering lift tickets for just $9. As per usual, your next day at Wildcat is $39, should you choose to upgrade by 3:30 p.m., which means you can ski Friday and Saturday for $48, or $24 a day.
After last week's storms, Wildcat is in the best shape it's seen all season (Saturday was among the best days of the year) and with March - historically the Northeast's snowiest month - on the horizon, it seems only to get better.
Attitash ski resort in Barlett, N.H., is saluting men and women serving in the armed forces with free lift tickets for active duty and retired military personnel and discounted tickets for their families Feb. 7-8 (valid IDs required -see the website for details). There will be a flag parade Saturday starting at the top of Attitash that includes the Marine Corps Honor Guard and ends with the National Anthem at the base area. Military personnel biographies will be exhibited in the resort’s lodges on both days. At each display, guests will be invited to write messages in journals, which will be sent to the respective soldiers. Non-military guests, who are encouraged to bring flags to participate in the parade, can get $10 of a lift ticket by bringing three approved donations to be sent to soldiers overseas. (Check this list of approved items.) In addition, Attitash Grand Summit Hotel is offering military personnel a 25 percent discount on slopeside lodging this weekend. Call 800-223-7669 for details.
Thirty-five appears to be the magic number if you’re looking to get in some mid-week skiing.
Tomorrow, $35 will net you a day on the slopes of Attitash in Bartlett, N.H. That’s a $27 savings off the regular $62 weekday cost.
On Wednesday, head up to Stowe, where the Vermont resort is hosting “Woodchuck Wednesday,” to celebrate the “beginning of the rest of winter.” Stowe is slashing its normally $89 lift ticket down to $35, and offering up free Stowe Points Cards (normally $75), which allow you to buy discounted passes for the rest of the season.
If that’s not enough, find a pair of Golden Goggles somewhere on the mountain Wednesday, and you’ll be entered in a contest to win a new pair of skis or snowboard.
There’s a chance of snow Tuesday in Bartlett, and another chance of it in Stowe on Wednesday.
Face it, skiing on Super Bowl Sunday hasn’t exactly been an attractive activity this past decade, what with the Patriots frequenting the big game four out of the last eight years. Sure, you could get back home in time for the 6:25 kickoff, but you’d be forced to miss 18 hours of predictions and player profiles. Or, at the very least, a few hours of pre-game snacking and imbibing.
But this year, with the Steelers and Cardinals set to face off, New England areas are doing everything they can to entice local skiers and riders to make the day about the mountains instead of the couch. With no Patriots on the horizon, check out Liftopia.com, which has released some of the deals it will be offering this Sunday, its second annual Super Bowl sale.
Here’s the list of deals for New England and Quebec:
Jay Peak Resort, VT - $32.50 - save 50%
Crotched Mountain, NH - $21.99 - save 57%
Wildcat Mountain, NH - $39.99 - save 38%
Jiminy Peak, MA - $36.99 - save 34%
Ragged Mountain, NH - $42.99 - save 27%
Black Mountain, NH - $29.00 - save 26%
Bolton Valley, VT - $43.99 - save 25%
Smugglers Notch, VT - $48.99 - save 21%
Sunday River 2-Day Pass, ME - $107.00 - save 20%
Wildcat Learn to Ski Package, NH - $55.00 - save 20%
Stoneham Resort, QC - $32.00 (USD) - save 21%
Mont Sainte Anne, QC - $39.00 (USD) - save 20%
For the skier-football fan who insists on both, we’d like to point out that Crotched is just 60 miles from Boston (65 from Worcester). For the skier who could care less about the game, Jay Peak at 50 percent off isn’t so bad, no?
It doesn't get better than this: Lift tickets will cost $9 this Friday at Wildcat Mountain in Jackson, N.H., The special price celebrates 51 years of lift-serviced skiing and 75 years since the Wildcat Trail was first developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Why $9? Because that's what it cost back in 1958 for 10 gondola rides. There will be plenty of apres-ski events this weekend (DJs, chili, music, and giveaways) and you can upgrade your ticket before 3:30 p.m. for the next day for $39. For a video update on current conditions, (15 inches of new snow fell this past weekend) check out Wildcat's blog.
Call us curmudgeons but we refuse to think about Christmas until Thanksgiving is over. Now that the turkey is picked clean, we’re considering the Yule. Waterville Valley Resort’s trying to get families into the holiday spirit this year with a package from $84 per person (quadruple occupancy) for a weekend that includes riding on a horse-drawn sleigh out to White Mountains Christmas Tree Farm to pick out the family tree, and free skiing on one day of the weekend stay. The offer is good for December 5-7 and 12-14. Full details on the Family Holiday Tree & Ski package are available on the ski area’s web site, www.visitwatervillevalley.com, or by calling 1-800-GO-VALLEY.
Posted by Patricia Harris and David Lyon, Globe Correspondents
Feeling guilty about leaving your dog alone when you go on vacation? Make it up to him by taking him out to dinner. Every Tuesday night from 5:30 to
9 p.m. the Wildcat Tavern in Jackson, N.H., hosts Dinner With Your Dog Night. They'll seat you and your leashed best friend in the tavern area (sorry, the dining room is for humans only). In warmer months you'll sit out back in the Wildcat's comfortable garden. Order what you like from the menu, and the good-natured staff will make a general fuss over you and your dog, treating him with water, dog snacks, and a souvenir bandana to take home. Need a place to stay? The Village House just down the road in Jackson is a pet-friendly place to bunk down for the night.
Columbus Day weekend is usually the peak of foliage season in New Hampshire's Mount Washington Valley, and this year Mother Nature is doing her best to cooperate. Marti Mayne, spokeswoman for the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce in North Conway, tells us that as of Thursday, vistas from Pinkham and Crawford notches to North Conway are alive with reds, yellows, and oranges. Mount Washington even has a fresh blanket of snow on it, providing a frosty backdrop. The Mount Washington Observatory's weather forecast calls for sunny to partly sunny days through Sunday, and a partly cloudy day on Monday - perfect weather in which to ramble. Before you go, check out an interactive foliage map for prime leaf peeping.
Vacations may be put on hold as Wall Street trembles and high gas prices keep consumers at home. But for those still looking to get away, "lean and green" may be the mantra.
That's one conclusion of a survey of more than 3,000 US travelers from TripAdvisor LLC of Newton, which operates such branded travel websites as airfarewatchdog.com and smartertravel.com.
Many of the survey's respondents said they plan to go hiking or engage in an outdoor activity in a national park, and 11 percent of respondents said they are "likely to participate in an extreme sports activity," up from 8 percent a year ago, TripAdvisor said.
(The photo above this story was taken from smartertravel.com, where people are invited to post pictures from their vacations. According to the website, this photo was taken by Heather Wade, and it shows Bryan Nay bungee-jumping off Bob's Peak in Queenstown, New Zealand.)
No word yet on how many folks qualify as "extreme and green" vacationers, but green thinking is now part of many travel plan decisions.
"Thirty-four percent of US respondents said they will visit an environmentally-friendly hotel or resort in the coming year," up from 30 percent in a previous survey, TripAdvisor said. "Thirty-two percent of those surveyed said they will be more environmentally conscious in their travel decisions this year than they were the year before. Last year, 26 percent said they would be more environmentally conscious."
TripAdvisor's press release included a statement from Michele Perry, a company vice president.
"An emerging trend," she said, "is travelers getting greener."
Posted by Chris Reidy, Globe Staff
Rumney Rocks, a popular rock climbing site in central New Hampshire, will reopen tomorrow, Friday. The area had been closed for several days as crews fought a slow-burning but stubborn fire that scorched much of the surrounding area on Rattlesnake Mountain.
Staff at the White Mountain National Forest issued a press release today cautioning returning hikers and climbers to beware dangerous debris, snags and more in the fire area. Trail edges may be unstable and, even if the surface looks level, it could collapse under a hiker's weight.
The release outlined additional risks for climbers: Those "returning to the crags in the Orange Crush, Bonsai, Main Cliff, and Darth Vader areas should be aware that previously exiting bolts, carabineers, slings, quick draws and anchors may no longer be stable."
For updates, visit here.
Tread lightly, and have fun.
Have you ever gotten up early to watch the sunrise? Let me rephrase that: Have you ever gotten up early to drive to the top of the highest peak in the Northeast to watch the sun come up over the Atlantic Ocean? The Mount Washington Auto Road is opening early on three Sundays this summer (June 29, Aug. 3, and Aug. 31) to allow drivers extra early access to the summit of Mount Washington. On June 29, the auto road will open at 3:30 a.m., on Aug. 3 it will open at 4 a.m., and on Aug. 31 it will open at 4:30 a.m. The regular rate applies ($20 per car and driver, $7 each additional adult, $5 for ages 5-12, and children under 4 free) as do certain vehicle restrictions. These rates include that famous bumper sticker and an audio tour on CD or cassette in English, French, or German. On a regular day, most vehicles take about 30 minutes to make the 7.6-mile ascent. Just don’t wait until the last minute to arrive. The popularity of last year’s sunrise drives showed that it may take as long as 30 minutes just to get through the Toll House at the mountain’s base. Someone once said, ‘‘We can only appreciate the miracle of a sunrise if we have waited in the darkness.’’ So what’s a little exhaust?