November 16, 2019

The first flakes began to fall this week in NH and both Wildcat & Bretton Woods were spinning lifts early season. While the purpose is my adventure is to SKI, I want it to also be something more. I starting following all the NH mountains on FB and came across a post from Veterans Memorial Ski Area in Franklin looking for volunteers to assist with trimming brush near the rope tow and putting a roof on a new storage shed. While neither task is in my wheelhouse, I reached out thinking this would be a perfect beginning to my season. Kindness = good karma.

IMG_1720.jpg

Hand-painted trail map

I will start by writing about Kathy. Like myself, Kathy is a Registered Nurse, she is retired and spends most of her time volunteering with the Franklin Outing Club and Thrift Shop. She welcomed me with a warm embrace, and I quickly felt like we were old friends vs. new acquaintances. Like kindred spirits we chatted shop, that is nursing shop, and discovered that we know many of the name people in various healthcare facilities. Notably: both her sister and her mother worked as school nurses, as did I previously in my career. Considering there is only about 500 school nurses in the state this definitely felt small world cool. I also met Sheryl who is overseeing Ski Patrol this year. For such a small facility, they have several nationally certified patrollers including two new teens who qualified this year. Her first aid room is an eclectic mix of tried and true hacks, mixed with modern upgrades including an AED, pelvic binder, and rescue sleds. Coolest vintage feature was wall shelving made from old wooden backboards.

IMG_1719.JPG

The lodge, note deck built last year by local veterans & volunteers

Both Kathy’s & Sheryl’s parents founded this community-based ski area with the Franklin Outing Club in 1962. Kathy explained that it was getting too expensive to bring the family skiing, so her dad approached the town about setting up a local ski tow. He scouted out a high point surrounded by thousands of acres of conservation land, accessed via dirt road and off the beaten path. It couldn’t be a more perfect setting. Town funds set aside for a Veterans Memorial were utilized, creating a living memorial to be enjoyed for years to come. A plaque commemorating all citizens of Franklin who served their country is prominently placed above the stone fireplace. The lodge is spacious with ample seating and hosts a full commercial kitchen that serves up full meals and treats. The walls are dotted with vintage ski posters, trophies, and an array of photographs of skiers throughout the years. Kathy points out a particular 8x 10 photo of her sister skiing with (a now ski industry CEO) circa 1970’s. She laughs saying “who knew, and he started right here in little Franklin”.

IMG_1724.JPG

Fireplace with Kathy working on the Winter Carnival book for 2020

My husband Tim and I volunteered for approximately 6 hours. He focused on brush cutting, both along the rope tow and jar bar lift (how exciting a fully functional J bar!), while I washed windows in the lodge overlooking the hill. There were several volunteers from the community including a group of about 10 high school students performing service hours. In NH public schools, part of the high school curriculum for includes hours of service time. Students perform various activities in community settings over 4 years as part of their graduation requirements. The high school principal volunteered with them, and she brought crockpots of homemade mac & cheese to serve all for lunch. The community spirit was warm and welcoming, and I really enjoyed learning about the origins of the ski area, and stories of what it was like growing up skiing here.

IMG_1711.jpg

Trimming along the rope tow line

IMG_1714.jpg

The new shed, building in progress

IMG_1712.JPG

The bay of windows overlooking the hill providing a spectacular view! Washing these windows was my job for the day

A family membership costs $25 for the season, and includes access to the fully stocked equipment room. If you need equipment, it is yours, they just ask that you donate your old equipment in turn. I was overwhelmed at the generosity of local businesses and citizens who make this possible. A winter carnival is held annually, with ad space sold in the carnival book being their biggest fundraiser. Another fundraiser they host annually is a “Boat Bash Snow Crash”. Picture kayaking on snow…. can I say more, I am totally planning on entering this event! If anyone reading is looking to pay kindness forward, feel free to reach out to Kathy for information re: sponsorship or to purchase a membership. https://www.franklinoutingclub.org

IMG_1727.jpg


I am so grateful that my adventure connected me with such a great organization. I’ll be back to ski as soon as the snow flies.

Snowy Wishes,
Carla Frontfive