Well, the end of December has treated us very well. We got a sustained cold snap with no precipitation and many of the open water areas have set up and had come into play. We've scouted all the bigger riding areas from Winnipesaukee to Champlain and everything in between. For a brief moment there was a narrow window of prime groomer surface but the ice was still too new and unknown to really publicize it. Then we got more cold and made more ice followed shortly by some significant snow. There was a brief moment (like 2 days) where we had primo early season conditions but eventually the weight of the snow began to work the plates. Between a mix of water seeping in where old and new ice join and the influx of ice fishermen drilling holes, the surfaces in many places became pretty slushy.
Other places, like Melvin here in the pic to the left, were scoured. Leaving behind variable windslab punctuated by frozen slush ice boiler plate. Making for some abusive riding at any reasonable speed. It was only getting worse as time went on.
We were due for a resurfacing. A warm up and even some rain to knock down the insulating deeper snow that was keeping slush from freezing and killing ice production. And to take out the slabs and knee busting whales.
And just like last season at this time, a resurface is exactly what we got.
Temps well above freezing and torrential downpours followed by an amazing cold front really did a great job out there. Ice that had snow on it has now consolidated to a somewhat bumpy hard plate. Not a lot of fun to ride but conducive to cranking up ice production. While areas that had new black ice from the previous cold snap, have been made darn near Zamboni smooth. Setting up some rare and amazing conditions in a few places. The biggest being Winnipesaukee.
For those of us that are able to and enjoy riding this kind of surface, we are thrilled. This is the snowkite equivalent to foil boarding without a doubt. Effortless cruising, need for very little wind. Very quite. We aren't the only ones psyched about this, the ice boaters, skaters or anyone who loves playing on the glass is taking advantage of the conditions.
So obviously these conditions aren't for everyone. For example if you snowkite on a board, unless you have a Switchblade (http://www.mnkiteboy.com/) you aren't going to have much luck out here. Skis work great if you have the right tune and are a solid skier with solid edging ability.
We have some snow in the forecast but I'm not sure what it will amount to. It's too cold for it to adhere to the surfaces and any wind is going to scour it off. This weekend we are looking at temps in the 40's so the ice will soften and if we get enough snow to stay, it will adhere and take some of the bone rattle out of the ice. This is almost the exact same situation we saw last year at this time.
But this year we have much better ice. It survived and is now thriving. Even our land based options aren't too bad. Firm crust, supports weight but not fun if you crash. It's always hard to opt for land options when we have such wide open areas available and the better winds that come with that space.
We'll keep an eye on the weather and see what happens in the next few days. Now that we are dealing with sound ice conditions and the season is in full swing I will be posting more condition reports if we see any major changes one way or another.
WARNING. No ice is ever 100% safe. We offer condition reports as a service to our students and clients who are familiar with the area and as a source of general condition information to others. These reports are not intended to replace common sense or up to the minute first hand knowledge of a given area. Nor is it a substitute for common sense. When in doubt don't go out.