PATS PEAK - A Testament of Yankee Ingenuity
According to Punxsutawney Phil, Spring is right around the corner. If you're in the housing market, you know that Spring already started. Homes are already flying off the market--but that's a story for another day.
If you're a skier (or a snowboarder) like me, Mr. Groundhog's news was not well received. In a year with such disappointing snowfall, we've all been hopeful, saying, "The best is yet to come." But, now it looks like the best might not come at all.
Unfortunately, there's no snow on the ground. But, I know where we can find some.
P A T S P E A K
In 1962, the four Patenaude brothers spent a lot of time skiing. They also spent a lot of time standing in lift lines. So the brothers went home to Henniker and build their very own ski mountain.
Growing up on a farm, the brothers had to be handy. But, now with a ski area to build, their skills would be put to the test. They harvested the trees on the mountain themselves and used those trees (with the help of their uncle's sawmill) to build the mountain's lodge. They assembled two T-Bars and learned how to construct a chairlift. And then, they assembled that too.
In January 1963, Pats Peak was open for business. At the time, Wayne Patenaude's wife Sally was expecting their first child. So, with families in mind, Pats Peak became a family-friendly ski area. It's where you could feel safe letting your kids roam the mountain, then let yourself go on challenging terrain.
Back then, a full day ticket was just $2.50--what a steal. But, you did have to put a little bit of work in to get to the lifts in those days. The ski lodge was located further up the mountain and required some hiking. Five years in, they solved that problem and rolled the lodge down the mountain--praying that the chimney wouldn't break off. Over the years, the lodge has changed shape and grown exponentially. But, that original lodge still remains standing.
For a while, Pats Peak relied on one snowmaker--Mother Nature. But that changed in 1972, when the brothers installed snowmaking equipment. Their first snowmaking compressor was an antique, originally used by the Packard Auto Company. Every time they started it up at the mountain, the lights in town would dim. Today, the mountain boasts 100% snowmaking on all their trails. So when there's no snow on the ground, you'll still find snow at Pats Peak (even during this rainy, warm winter). In fact, Pats Peak is consistently among the first ski areas in New Hampshire (sometimes New England) to achieve 100% of their terrain open for the season.
For nearly sixty years, Pats Peak has been owned by just one family. While it may look a little different than it used to, it remains a place riddled with nostalgia--where thousands have clipped into their skis for the very first time. Today, helicopters are used to install the new lifts. New trails have been carved into the Cascade Basin. The lodge is getting a major expansion. And now, visitors can try their hand at mogul skiing, hit the terrain park, or even try out the snow bikes.
Sick of skiing? (Doubtful). But if you are, go check out the snow tubing. It's safe enough for young children, but scary enough to excite this adrenaline junky. Don't believe me? Try it for yourself. You might be surprised.
If you can't tell, I have a lot of love for Pats Peak. I learned to ski on their green circles and have grown as a skier on their double blacks.
One of my favorite things about Pats Peak is that you don't have to ski to enjoy the mountain. There have been many times when I've just curled up with a book in front of their fireplace, hung out on their deck, gotten a bite at the Pub, or listened to live music while enjoying the view.
Whether you're new to the mountain or a long-time customer, you have to admit that driving up to the lodge is magical. With it's chalet style, Pats Peak's lodge could hold its own with the big players. And with the mountain lit up behind it, illuminating those big moguls, you know you're in for a treat.
But as Pats Peak has expanded, its nostalgia has never waivered. It still remains a place for the whole family to enjoy. You'll find ski clubs, racing teams, and local school groups enjoying the mountain in harmony.
If you're lucky, you might even see Pats Peak's honorary crew member--Roxy the golden retriever. She roams the mountain greeting guests, playing in the snow, and searching for her next dog treat.
Are you planning a visit to the mountain? Here are some of my tips to help you enjoy Pats Peak to the fullest:
A R Y E L L E ' S P R O T I P S
- The popcorn inside the Sled Pub is free for the taking. Grab a bowl (or two) and munch between runs.
- Beer and popcorn go great together. But, they taste even better when you're sitting on the upper deck looking up at the mountain.
- The view from the upper deck is magical, especially at night. You can gawk at the mountain without having to stare at ugly lift lines or chairlift engines.
- Save tubing for the end of the night. The tubing runs get icier and make for a faster, more exciting ride.
- If you're one of the lucky ones age 18-29, you can purchase the "20Something" Pass for only $222 ! Whether you're a college student or just getting started in life, Pats Peak is trying to make skiing and riding affordable.
- POP (Pay One Price) Nights offer the most affordable night skiing in New England. For only $52, ski/ride on a Saturday night (3-10PM). That $52 pays for your lift ticket, rentals, snowtubing, and lesson tips for the night. It's a heck of a deal, especially if you're bringing friends who are new to the sport and need to rent gear.
So what are you waiting for? It's time to hit the slopes.