February 9, 2020
Day 18
Skiers: Carla

Veterans Memorial was officially the first ski area I visited for my NH Talls & Smalls Adventure. I had a fantastic experience volunteering at this little hill helping with pre-season preparation, and was very excited to return with snow on the ground. Veterans Memorial is 100% volunteer operated and funded by the Franklin Outing Club. Please visit my pre-season post for historical background and additional pictures.

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VM lodge, look at that beautiful corduroy! Photo credit VMRC facebook page

https://www.pugski.com/ams/nh-talls-smalls-veterans-memorial-preseason.29/

I have kept in contact with Kathy since we first met in November and she warmly embraced me upon my arrival. The lodge was buzzing with volunteers and she swiftly caught me up to speed on everything that had been accomplished since my last visit. Notably: the new garage is complete with walls, roof, and functioning doors (it was only a frame in November) and the winter carnival fundraising book for 2020 has been published. Winter Carnival is in full swing and the and the cardboard sled race held on 2/8 was a huge success. Upcoming events include an ice fishing derby and the annual Boat Bash Snow Crash (downhill kayaking on the ski slopes).

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The new shed is complete to house the groomer and other equipment. Brown structure is the base of the T-bar

Veterans Memorial is located within the Great Gains Forest in Franklin NH. It has a vertical drop of 230', and 10 trails on 50 skiable areas. This is comparable in size to the Tuckerbrook Area of Cannon or the Green Peak expansion area at Waterville Valley. There are two lifts: a rope tow to access the lower main trail, and a T-Bar to access all upper terrain, with a mid-station bailout available for middle terrain access. There is no snowmaking available at VM, and with the lackluster natural snowfall we have received this season they have only been open a handful of days.

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Riding the T-Bar, rope tow shelter can be seen in the background

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Shelter at the top of the rope tow


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View from Lower Wilderness looking towards the base lodge. Rope tow along the orange fencing

The weather today was in the high 20’s with sunny skies. Mid to southern NH received a bought of freezing raining two nights prior, and evidence was present with iced over tree branches and T-bar posts. All trails were freshly groomed, but the surface was chunky frozen granular. The variety of terrain is quite impressive for a small ski area and I was certainly challenged. The perimeter trails Great Gains, Race Trail, and Wilderness are narrowly cut while the Chute into Vets Trail are wide-open boulevards. I skied 7 runs total covering all terrain, including the Great Gains trail which was ungroomed snow with a crusty top and sticky middle. I observed many critter prints in this area including deer, rabbit, and bobcat.

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Junction of Upper Wilderness & Ian’s Trail looking uphill. The trees were heavily coated with ice from the previous days freezing rain. With sunny skies the sight was stunning!

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Trail merge: black Upper Great Gains, blue Upper Race Trail. Note the thin cover

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Birdhouse in the tree on the right, Lower Wilderness

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View from the Chute looking down towards base

I retired to the lodge for lunch at the “Grill on the Hill”. I enjoyed a cheeseburger, onion rings, and coffee, along with purchasing an outing club pin all for under $10! I actually left with change in my pocket.

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Inside the lodge looking towards the “Grill on the Hill”. Vintage posters can be viewed on the slanted ceiling. Just under the wagon wheel light you can see a cardboard ambulance and a cardboard snowplow displayed as tokens from a cardboard sled race.

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Wide view of the lodge looking towards the fireplace

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Close ups of vintage posters, I love how each represents a different decade


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Vintage posters, collection from Quebec tourism

Cost for my lift ticket was zero. Today was a “Community Free Ski Day” sponsored by AD&G Fuel Company. A donation of $400 to the Franklin Outing Club provides unlimited skiing and riding from 10-4 for anyone who wishes to attend, with turnouts upwards of 75 people each day, more if the snow conditions are prime. To put this in perspective, a family of 4 can spend more than $400 on tickets for a single day at many of the larger NH mountains, not to mention the cost of lunch! The FOC is excited to be offering 13 Community Free Ski Days this season due to the benevolence and support of local businesses. Daily ticket costs on non-free days are very affordable ranging from $7.50-$20.

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Trail report, VM is 100% open!

Membership to the FOC is only $15 per individual or $25 per family for the entire season. Membership helps support operational costs and provides access to the Free Equipment Swap Room. Essentially a family can obtain skis, boots, poles, and attend free ski days for an entire season for $25.

One last perk I forgot to mention, Veterans always ski free every day the hill is open!

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New trail signs, made by a local teacher using donated materials. Fireplace in the background, Note the sconce lighting on the vintage skis and veteran’s plaque with American flag

Link here to become a member, or if you are a reader from afar, please consider a donation to sponsor a membership for family in need. You can also reach out to [email protected] to discuss opportunities to sponsor a Community Free Ski Day https://www.franklinoutingclub.org/membership.html

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Carla at the base of Vets Trail, view uphill

Overall impression: Veterans Memorial is by far the greatest skiing value in the state! This little ski area is a living memorial to Veterans in the Franklin community. The FOC honors service and volunteerism, sharing these values with future generations. The lodge is shared with school groups, the Boy Scouts, and serves as a gathering location for other civic events. Everything about this area is special and the size and the number of trails provides a nice variety for a small area. Value is outstanding and I think newcomers will be pleasantly surprised.

Snowy Wishes,
Carla Frontfive