They are often referred to as earworms — those songs that get stuck in your head and just won’t leave. As I enjoy my stay at the White Mountains Hostel, I find myself humming the familiar (to me) earworm, “My Favorite Things” from the 1965 movie The Sound of Music. Let me explain: I first came to stay at the White Mountains Hostel more than three years ago and I try and make it a priority to get up here annually. While is would be impossible to list all of the things that keep me coming back to this wintery paradise in central New Hampshire, I can’t help but share a few of my favorite things about life in the Mt. Washington Valley.
It snows a lot here. Average annual snowfalls often exceed 150 inches. What I love about this is that it can dump snow all night and by the morning the streets are plowed and everyone just goes about their business as usual. For those of us lucky enough to vacation here in the winter, the possibilities for snow play are endless. Whether you are a newbie or Jeremy Jones, world-class skiing and snowboarding options abound in the Mt. Washington Valley. If you get tired of skiing (is that even possible?) or are looking for a change of pace, you can take a snowshoe tour on one of the area’s many groomed trail networks.
Before I started frequenting this part of the country, I had the impression that folks up here were a little bit crabby (don’t judge). The people in the Mt. Washington Valley community have repeatedly proved this notion to be entirely unfounded. From the friendly Tim and Samara who run the hostel to the local climbing legends who run the climbing shops in town, people here are kind, generous, and they know how to tell a good story. Optimal sites for people-watching and meeting some of the fine people in the valley include:
The Met Coffeehouse
Moat Mountain Smokehouse and Brewing
International Mountain Equipment
One of the many apres ski bars in the area
Andes Ski Shop
If there is one thing that defines the region, it is Mt. Washington. The majestic rounded peak dominates the skyline and draws the breath of visitors and neighbors alike. A required stop (IMO) is the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center. Here you can catch a view of the “Beast of the East” and peruse exhibits on local history, flora, and fauna. Better yet, plan a ski, snowshoe, or hike up one of the many scenic trails the mountain has to offer. Always check with local guide services to get the most up-to-date condition reports and ensure you have proper gear before undertaking these adventures.
When Mt. Washington is too windy or cold, additional mountains in the region provide excellent fodder for fun. The White Mountains are home to numerous high peaks and low-country trails that can be explored on foot, skis, and snowshoes.
If you do things right up here, you are bound to work up an appetite. The area has no shortage of delicious offerings from comfort food to gourmet. Fill up on delicious baked goods from Vintage Baking Company, fresh soups and salads at the Local Grocer, nachos at Matty B’s or a fancy-pants dinner at Deacon Street. Another option is picking up groceries and returning to the well-outfitted kitchen at the hostel. The kitchen acts a hub for activity and on any given evening, one can meet new travelers as meals come together, thermoses are filled, and gear is sorted for the next day’s activities.