Rick Persons of Laconia relishes the chance to learn cross country skiing at Gunstock Mountain Resort Tuesday. Nordic skiing and snowshoeing conditions remained excellent with ample snow. (David Carkhuff/The Laconia Daily Sun)
By DAVID CARKHUFF/THE LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILFORD — For her 66th birthday, Tina Jurta of Gilford received a gift from her daughter with special meaning: a cross-country skiing lesson at Gunstock Mountain Resort.
"I did it once, but it was nice of my daughter to give me a lesson for my birthday. My grandkids ski with the Gunstock Nordic Association. They race, so I'm trying to keep up with them," Jurta said Tuesday.
Rick Persons of Laconia joined Irena Bosworth of Natick, Massachusetts, and Jurta for Tuesday's lesson.
Persons said, "It's warming up, and so is the snow," but he said he relished the opportunity to enjoy the trails under blue skies.
Persons said he has an alpine season pass, and he decided to take advantage of a package deal to try out cross country skiing.
At the Gunstock Nordic Ski School, Tuesday marked the calm after the storm, both literally and figuratively. On Sunday, the resort sold out and had to turn skiers and snowshoers away after reaching capacity. Recent snowstorms and an onset of "bluebird" days with pure-blue skies caused the resort to physically run out of space.
Among the weekend crowd were cross-country skiers and snowshoers.
Instructor Gunnar Stohlberg of Barnstead said cross-country skiing conditions remain superb, although the grooming schedule will depend on evening temperatures and moisture. Ski trails are sensitive to thaws, so the mountain nordic center is protective of the two-foot-plus base.
"With all of this new snow and the vacation week, it's been overloaded. We cleaned out our snowshoes three times on Saturday because we would not have any more, and then a couple would come back," Stohlberg recalled, noting the steady rotation of customers.
Jane Carpenter, another ski instructor at Gunstock, runs dog ski touring lessons, teaching people to train dogs to pull them around on skis. The resort features 15 kilometers of dog-friendly trails. Carpenter said two-legged and four-legged visitors can take advantage of well-groomed trails, on one of the few mountains around that generates its own snow for cross country trails.
"We make snow so we stockpile it," Carpenter said.
A mountain crew spreads the manmade snow with a manure spreader and grooms trails with a groomer. The resort on Tuesday reported 20 to 32 inches of base depth varying across 34 nordic trails totaling 33 kilometers in length.
"We've had wonderful compliments despite the challenging conditions," Carpenter said.
Up-and-down temperatures have kept the snowmakers and groomers on their toes, she said.
"We have manmade snow and that's going to last," Carpenter said.
Even if it rains (Friday's forecast calls for a 30 percent chance of showers with a high near 47 degrees), the snow base should hold up, she said.
Vacation Week in Massachusetts guaranteed an influx of out-of-state skiers and snowshoers, and locals converged over the weekend for conditions reminiscent of spring skiing, but with icy snow rather than slush.
Sunday's sell-out day left everyone breathless.
"The mountain was humming," Carpenter said.
Jurta, who reacquainted herself with cross country skiing during Tuesday's lesson, said her family saw first hand the frantic pace at Gunstock over the weekend. She came on Sunday to watch her grandchildren race, but "We couldn't even get in."
"So we went to Alton to check out the winter festival. We couldn't find anyplace to park, so we turned around and came back. By then, they were letting people in, so I got to see my grandson finish, and I got to see my granddaughter start and finish," she said.
Rick Persons of Laconia, Irena Bosworth of Natick, Massachusetts, and Tina Jurta of Gilford take a cross country skiing lesson from Gunnar Stohlberg of Barnstead, instructor at Gunstock Mountain Resort, Tuesday. (David Carkhuff/Laconia Daily Sun)
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