Happy trails

Kayak­ing, shaker- style wooden churches and sparkling lakes – White Moun­tains is the per­fect piece of Amer­i­cana, writes Sarah Geraghty

The Irish Times Magazine - - TRAVEL -

‘ Dress l i ke a pro – at l east you’ll look the part”, was my cousin’s snappy ad­vice as she sur­ren­dered her pro win­ter gear for an up­com­ing trip to the White Moun­tains of New Hamp­shire.

She re­mem­bered the truth: It was five short years since my last ( third) at­tempt at ski­ing. She lived in Switzer­land at the time and I had ex­ag­ger­ated my yearn­ing to hit the slopes of Zer­matt.

As the chair­lift creaked sky­wards so did my ter­ror. Af­ter a wob­bly thrust from the lift on to a red run, I snow- ploughed robot­i­cally to the clos­est fir, snapped the skis off, threw them over my shoul­der and be­gan the long, tor­tu­ous foot- slog- and- slide all the way down the moun­tain.

Never again, I said. You can have your new year’s après- ski craic in Cha­monix and your PyeongChang. I’m just more of a sun hol­i­day per­son any­way, I said.

But it didn’t sit right. Ski­ing is cool. And fun. Ap­par­ently.

New Hamp­shire would fix this. It’s where they Live Free or Die. In fact, it’s the only US state that doesn’t re­quire adults to wear seat belts.

New Hamp­shire is the birth­place of Amer­ica’s 14th pres­i­dent ( Franklin Pierce), its first as­tro­naut in space ( Alan Shep­ard) and Tup­per­ware. It hosts the first pres­i­den­tial pri­mary in the United States and de­spite its tiny size, can make or break a can­di­date.

As if that wasn’t ar­rest­ing enough, ev­ery year in Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber, “leaf peep­ers” flock to the White Moun­tains for the idyl­lic New Eng­land pur­suit of fall fo­liage view­ing.

When we ar­rive in late March, via Bos­ton, New Eng­land’s maple syrup pro­duc­tion has ramped up, the crisp snow is knee- high and lake Win­nipesaukee in the eastern part of the state is still frozen.

Con­di­tions are ideal for ski­ing which makes it the per­fect in­tro­duc­tion to movie- like New Eng­land inn- style liv­ing. ■

The Christ­mas Farm Inn and Spa in Jack­son, for ex­am­ple, is set into a hill­side ( on 3 Bl­itzen Way, natch) and is just as sea­sonal as it sounds. Think deep, snug arm­chairs, four- poster beds, wide porches, sooth­ing rock­ing chairs and Cookie, the golden retriever. And there’s turkey and stuff­ing on the din­ner menu all year round.

Or, ro­man­tic Mills Falls at the Lake, with crack­ling open fires, plaid wall­pa­per, Maine lob­ster bene­dict, hot- tubs and twinkly lights strung along lake­front bal­conies. Like the set of a win­try Gil­more Girls episode. With fewer ir­ri­tat­ing char­ac­ters.

It’s hard to leave be­hind all that glow­ing warmth – es­pe­cially when the plan is to head into the wilder­ness for a bumpy off- road ad­ven­ture in the back of a mon­ster Swiss army truck or zi­pline 213 me­tres over the icy Pemige­was­set river.

But af­ter snow­mo­bil­ing 20 miles of trails

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