Connect with the winter-loving community of the AMC and rediscover why it’s fun to play in the snow
This is your year to get outside and embrace the winter. Don’t let the kids have all the fun during this snowy seasons—get out there yourself! There are nordic ski weekends, snowshoeing yoga retreats and daytrips being hosted by the Appalachian Mountain Club in Maine and New Hampshire. In case you didn’t know, the AMC, founded in 1876, has spent more than a century building a community of folks who appreciate and want to learn more about the natural world. They also happen to be a welcoming group too (and just so you know, membership is not required to attend their programs).
You’re not convinced this is your season to be outside? Nicky Pizzo, AMC program manager and senior naturalist, explains why AMC programs are a great way to re-introduce your child-self to the reasons why you enjoyed playing outside with your friends. “The focus of our programs is to get outdoors to experience the natural world, learn new skills and have fun together as a group. We set a culture of support and encouragement,” she says.
Still making excuses? Maybe about how your hands always get cold in the winter because the blood doesn’t circulate like it used to? “All of our winter programs guides talk about tips and techniques for staying warm because warm fingers and toes are key to having fun in winter,” says Pizzo. Another excuse off the list!
Now, you might be a bit more of an introvert (we know not everyone loves a crowd) but there are ways to plan an adventure with more solitude at AMC lodges that are open in the winter. Joe Dodge Lodge and Highland Center in New Hampshire are located on easily accessible roads (no hauling gear up a mountain) and offer cozy common spaces with fireplaces. The lodges often host weekend socials with appetizers and evening programs (a little socializing doesn’t hurt, right?). There are also nordic ski packages with several area trail systems and snowshoeing to do some wildlife tracking. Maine’s three AMC lodges are also full-service but require a little logistics to get there from the winter parking lot (it’s worth the effort). For the more experienced winter trekkers, there are three backcountry, higher elevation huts open in New Hampshire during the winter: Lonesome Lake, Carter Notch and Zealand Falls.
The AMC isn’t the only organization hosting events, but with their century-plus experience, they know how to prepare you for an enjoyable—and doable, if you’re a beginner—winter adventure. Not all equipment is provided for every event, but the AMC lets you know that in advance. Generally, it’s bring-your-own skis, but traction, snowshoes, poles and backpacks are usually available to borrow.
AMC Weekend Getaways
Here are some highlights from the AMC’s calendar of weekend getaways. There are many more options to be found on the AMC website (outdoors.org) and Facebook page (facebook.com/appalachianmountainclub). According to Pizzo, the women’s events are “by far our most popular,” so be sure to sign up early for those.
Women’s Winter Adventure in Pinkham Notch
WHEN: Feb. 2–4
WHERE: Joe Dodge Lodge, New Hampshire
DESCRIPTION: The weekend includes a ride on the Mount Washington Auto Road SnowCoach to the treeline, snowshoeing, animal tracking, nordic skiing and the camaraderie of program participants and professional winter guides.
HOW MUCH: $299 (member), $339 (non-member)
Lodge-to-Lodge: Ski Tour Maine Wilderness Lodges
WHEN: Feb. 9–11
WHERE: Gorman Chairback Lodge & Cabins and Little Lyford Lodge & Cabins, Maine
LEVEL: All (but note mileage to assess your fitness level)
DESCRIPTION: This weekend is a chance to journey through the 100 Mile Wilderness to stay at both of AMC’s remote Maine lodges. The first day is about six miles of skiing or snowshoeing and the second day about seven miles.
HOW MUCH: Adult/youth: $269 (member), $309 (non-member)
Adult Adventure: Maine Beginner Ski and Snowshoe Weekend
WHEN: Feb. 9–11
WHERE: Medawisla Lodge & Cabins, Maine
DESCRIPTION: AMC Registered Maine Guides lead participants on ski and snowshoeing trails looking for wildlife tracks and enjoy the views of Baxter State Park. Nordic ski instruction is offered through games and activities. Did we mention there’s a sauna, too?
HOW MUCH: $319
Mount Washington Valley—Nordic Skiing Weekend
WHEN: Feb. 16–18
WHERE: Jackson, New Hampshire
DESCRIPTION: Spend a weekend exploring the Mount Washington Valley on skis. The organizers will plan the weekend based on the abilities and equipment of the participants. The leader of the trip is Ted Stever, the director of the PSIA-accredited Cardigan Mountain Ski School, who has been teaching nordic and alpine skiing for many years.
HOW MUCH: $100 for lodging. Participants are responsible for their own meals and fees for skiing at cross-country resorts.
AMC NH Chapter Winter School: Hiking, Skiing & Leadership Workshops
WHEN: Feb. 23–25
WHERE: Cardigan Lodge, New Hampshire
LEVEL: Experienced 3-season hikers
DESCRIPTION: The program offers instruction on winter backcountry travel from most every aspect. The weekend is filled with instruction, field exercises, lectures and discussions.
HOW MUCH: $165 (member), $185 (non-members), includes lodging, excellent meals, materials and instruction.
Lodge-to-Hut: Women’s Snowshoe to Lonesome Lake Hut
WHEN: March 2–4
WHERE: Highland Center, Lonesome Lake Hut, New Hampshire
LEVEL: Experienced three-season hiker
DESCRIPTION: This trip is for the experienced three-season hiker wanting to try a winter hiking experience. Participants will need to be comfortable carrying a pack over moderate mountain terrain for about 1.5 miles on snowshoes.
HOW MUCH: $349 (member), $379 (non-member)
Adult Adventure: Snowshoe & Yoga Retreat
WHEN: March 9–11
WHERE: Highland Center, New Hampshire
DESCRIPTION: Yoga sessions by a certified instructor are offered indoors each day as well as hiking in Crawford Notch. Gear is provided if needed to participants.
HOW MUCH: $289 (member), $309 (non-member)
Wendy Almeida is a freelance writer who has been exploring the Maine outdoors with her kids for more than 18 years, and they’re nowhere near done yet.