The First Time I Skied Mt. Sunapee was 1963... and Hodge Podge Lodge

I’ve checked my math a few times now.  1963 was 54 years ago.  Right?  That’s incredible.  Over half a century ago.  That is such a long period of time, yet it seems like yesterday to me.  

Sunapee isn’t my favorite mountain.  It’s a big mountain, but it’s (still) a tame mountain. For a day trip, I’d much prefer Waterville or Cannon; however,  Sunapee is closer to home.  The drive home after a cold day on the slopes is always tiring, so I appreciate that it is only a 1 1/2 hour drive.  Getting home in time for a hot shower and dinner is oh so nice!  All of this is much aided by route 89, which didn’t exist in 1963, as far as I recall. But then, I wasn’t doing the driving back then.  

Nor was Sunapee a day trip for us back then.  As a family, we rented a big house with 8 or 9 other families from back home.  We called it Hodge Podge Lodge. I remember the season rental per family that first year was $250.  I also remember my first season pass.  As the “first junior” in the family, my pass cost my parents $60.  Today, this is about the price of a weekend day ticket!  My brother was the “second junior” and his pass was $40.  Day tickets for juniors were $6, so I pretty much made up my pass by skiing the school Christmas vacation. (We used the word Christmas back then.)

On my dad's 80th birthday twelve years ago we took a summer drive up to Sunapee.
Here we (dad, my brother, and me) are checking out the old place.
I thought it was cool that the street number is 64 and our first season
was the winter '63-'64.

Patches were quite fashionable back then.
HPL = Hodge Podge Lodge

I wish I had some photos of our Sunapee days from back then.  But we didn’t tote cameras around. 

The first picture below was taken this past week.  It’s just one turn below the top of the mountain and the trail is called Bonanza.  This particular area was called Bonanza Ledges back in the day. It looked a lot different. The trail was narrower and covered with rock formations.  There was no snow making and the grooming was primitive.  We had to pick our way through the ledges, using one or two goat paths. Timid skiers side-stepped through the mess, causing others to queue up above the ledges. My friends and I usually just went straight through without turning, hoping for enough loose snow at the bottom of the ledges to make a turn or two to slow down.

Years later the area was blasted and smoothed out.  My guess is that as uphill capacity was increased (seen here is a high speed quad which gets four people to the top in 6 minutes (I need to verify that) compared to a slow double chair that got two people to the top in 12 (or was it 20?) minutes), downhill capacity needed to be increased.  Trails were widened too so that snow making could be maximized, and traffic jams like what was created at Bonanza ledges had to be eliminated.

So easy now.  Here there used to be ledges to negotiate

Also a recent picture, this next image I call “Dad’s View”.  This was taken along one of his two favorite trails.  This one is called Skyway.  The other favorite is called Blast Off. My dad passed away a year ago at age 90.  I’m guessing he was 70 when I last skied this trail with him.  Of course, I think about him often when i ski Sunapee.  I have some great memories. Even though Sunapee is not my favorite ski mountain, it’s the ski area with the most meaning to me.

I’ve put together a small portfolio of Sunapee pictures on my website.  Nothing particularly special, just snapshots.  All were taken with a digital point and shoot camera.  The oldest snapshot of the bunch was taken in 2009.


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