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Winter Wonders Unveiled:

The SnowCoach Journey Through the White Mountains

Snowcoach mt washington


The SnowCoach Journey Through the White Mountains

Captivating Scene Above Treeline on Mount Washington

Above the treeline on Mount Washington unfolds a scene of unparalleled beauty. The northern Presidential Range, adorned with a pristine layer of snow, stands in majestic grandeur. Below, low-hanging clouds weave through the valleys, casting an ethereal spell over the iconic landscape. This breathtaking tableau, typically earned through strenuous hikes, becomes the backdrop for an extraordinary experience.

B. Unconventional Arrival via SnowCoach at Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center

Rather than embarking on the usual trek, visitors find themselves immersed in this subarctic world through an innovative mode of transport—the SnowCoach at the Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center in Pinkham Notch. Departing from the conventional narrative of demanding hikes, anticipation builds for a distinctive journey facilitated by modern ingenuity.

C. Setting the Stage for a Unique Winter Adventure in the White Mountains

The SnowCoach, a white utility van equipped with four triangular tracks in lieu of traditional wheels, awaits outside the main lodge. Guided by the expertise of Ray Bergeron, a seasoned driver exuding infectious enthusiasm, the expedition begins. Over the next 90 minutes, the SnowCoach promises not just transportation but an extraordinary sojourn up the snow-covered Mt. Washington Auto Road—a voyage transcending the commonplace, offering an intimate encounter with the winter enchantment of the White Mountains.

Introduction to the SnowCoach at Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center

The stage set, visitors are beckoned to embark on the SnowCoach adventure at the Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center. Positioned as a contemporary marvel, the SnowCoach, with its white exterior and distinctive four triangular tracks, stands ready to defy the norms of conventional winter exploration.

B. Prompt Departure for the 90-minute Tour

Beyond the center’s main lodge, our guide and driver, Ray Bergeron, orchestrates the next chapter. Guests are directed to board their assigned SnowCoach, one of three lined up for the first tour of the day, set to commence promptly at 8:45 am. The anticipation is palpable as the doors close, signaling the initiation of an immersive 90-minute journey through the snow-covered expanse of the Mt. Washington Auto Road.

C. Exuberant Guide, Ray Bergeron, Sets the Tone

Bergeron, a semi-retired driver in his second season of touring, becomes the conductor of this winter symphony. His exuberant personality becomes the overture, setting the tone for the adventure ahead. A seamless blend of expertise and enthusiasm, Bergeron ensures that the SnowCoach experience transcends mere transportation, evolving into a captivating exploration of the winter wonders within the White Mountains.

Making Tracks Up the Auto Road

A. Description of the SnowCoach’s Unique Triangular Tracks

The SnowCoach, positioned at the starting point, unveils a defining feature – four triangular tracks that replace conventional wheels. These purpose-built tracks ensure stability, providing a smooth journey up the winding and snow-covered Mt. Washington Auto Road. As passengers settle in, the SnowCoach promises not only a comfortable ascent but also breathtaking views of the winter wonderland.

B. Humorous Anecdote about the “Massage Chair” Effect on Pavement

Exiting the parking area and crossing Route 16, passengers are treated to a light-hearted moment dubbed the “massage chair.” The strong vibrations from the tracks over bare pavement create shared laughter among passengers, reminiscent of the once-coveted Magic Fingers trend. This humorous interlude transforms the journey into a unique SnowCoach experience, where even the vibrations become a part of the adventure.

C. Historical Insights into the Mt. Washington Auto Road and Its Construction

The Auto Road begins at an unassuming white building, revealed to be the original toll house erected just before the road’s opening in 1861. An integral part of American history, this 7.6-mile Auto Road stands as the oldest man-made attraction in the nation, a testament to its enduring significance. As the SnowCoach ascends, a narrative of historical importance unfolds, immersing passengers in the rich tapestry of Mt. Washington’s past.


Interactive Trivia and Changing Ecological Zones

A. Trivia Game: “Cash Cab” Style

Mid-ascent, the SnowCoach journey takes an engaging turn. Passengers find themselves participating in a game reminiscent of “Cash Cab.” A laser pointer emerges, casting green lights across the ceiling, transforming the coach into an impromptu game show. Trivia questions about the renowned 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail fill the coach, turning the journey into an interactive experience. Correct answers are rewarded with Auto Road pins and magnets, infusing an element of fun and cultural connection into the ascent.

B. Description of the Changing Ecological Zones During the Ascent

The SnowCoach’s ascent parallels a fascinating transformation in the surrounding ecological zones. The expedition commences in a Northeastern hardwood forest, where towering trees create a canopy over the journey. However, as the elevation rises, a shift occurs. Smaller, softer conifers become prevalent, signaling the entrance into a subalpine zone. Shaped by relentless wind and cold, the trees take on a gnarled and stunted appearance, aptly named “krummholz,” a German term translating to “crooked tree.” This unique vegetation serves as a testament to the rugged conditions of the alpine environment.

C. Highlighting the Subalpine Zone with Krummholz Vegetation

A pause in the tour brings passengers to the winter turnoff at 4,200 feet elevation, marking the boundary to the alpine zone. Stepping out, passengers encounter the powdered sugar effect – a delicate layer of snow adorning the dwarfed vegetation. This rare sight, pointed out by the guide, underscores nature’s resilience against unyielding wind speeds. The subalpine zone, characterized by krummholz vegetation, becomes a focal point, showcasing the ability of plant life to thrive in the challenging and dynamic mountain environment.


Winter Turnoff at 4,200 Feet

A. Stop at the Treeline and Transition to the Alpine Zone

The SnowCoach brings the expedition to a pause at the winter turnoff, positioned at 4,200 feet elevation. This strategic point signifies the treeline boundary and the transition to the alpine zone, where the harsh conditions prevent trees from further growth. As passengers disembark, they are met with a landscape that reveals the resilience of nature against the challenging mountain elements.

B. Observations on the Powdered Sugar Effect and Snow-Covered Trees

Stepping out of the SnowCoach, passengers are greeted by the powdered sugar effect—a light dusting of snow delicately covering the dwarfed vegetation. The guide, keen on details, highlights this phenomenon, emphasizing the rarity of snow on trees due to relentless wind speeds. The winter turnoff becomes a canvas of delicate white, showcasing the intricate beauty of nature’s response to the alpine environment.

C. Personal Experiences and Perspectives of Passengers

As passengers explore the area, each step offers a new perspective on the winter wonderland. Conversations reveal shared awe at the unique sights and the brisk mountain air. One passenger reflects on the surprising swiftness of the ascent, noting, “Within 15 to 20 minutes, you are above treeline, in an environment quite different than most people get to experience.” The SnowCoach proves to be a gateway to an elevated realm, allowing passengers to absorb the serene beauty of the White Mountains in a condensed timeframe.

Stay tuned for more insights into the SnowCoach adventure on Mt. Washington Auto Road, where each moment unfolds as a testament to the unique winter spectacle.


Insights from a Veteran Guide

A. Interview with a Seasoned Driver and Guide

Delving into the rich history and experiences of the Mt. Washington Auto Road, an interview with a seasoned SnowCoach driver provides valuable insights. The guide, with decades of experience, sheds light on the unique allure of the region. Without revealing the guide’s name, the interview becomes a window into a career marked by passion for the outdoors and an addiction to the breathtaking surroundings.

B. Appreciation for the Outdoors and the Uniqueness of the Mt. Washington Environment

The guide’s perspective reveals a deep appreciation for the outdoors. The interviewee expresses, “If you like being in the outdoors, this is just a phenomenal place to fall in love with.” The Mt. Washington environment becomes an addiction, a captivating force that draws individuals towards its spectacular array of natural wonders. The guide’s insights illuminate not just the physical beauty but also the spiritual connection that the region fosters.

C. Dramatic Natural Events Witnessed by the Guide

The interview unveils moments of awe and reverence, such as witnessing a snow cornice on the ridgeline release into a massive avalanche. The guide recalls this breathtaking event, a reminder of nature’s force and spontaneity. These dramatic natural occurrences, witnessed only by those intimately connected to the region, become tales that resonate with the raw power and beauty of Mt. Washington.

As the SnowCoach journey descends, the revelations from the guide offer a glimpse into the captivating stories embedded in the heart of the White Mountains. Stay tuned for more narratives from the SnowCoach adventure, where each story unfolds as a testament to the dynamic and unpredictable nature of the mountainous terrain.

Guiding Philosophy and Connection with Nature

A. Guide’s Perspective on Guiding: Connecting People with Nature

The guide, reflecting on the essence of guiding, shares a philosophy rooted in connecting people with nature. The interviewee emphasizes, “The people are awesome. You meet so many different individuals from all walks of life.” The SnowCoach adventure becomes a platform for forging connections, not just with the breathtaking landscape but with fellow adventurers. The guide’s commitment to facilitating these connections transforms the journey into more than just a tour—it becomes a shared exploration of the natural world.

B. Importance of Slowing Down in a Fast-Paced World and Appreciating the Surroundings

In a world marked by speed and constant motion, the guide values the opportunity to slow down and savor the surroundings. The guide notes, “It feels good to get a chance to just idle down a little bit, see what’s around you, and enjoy yourself.” The SnowCoach adventure emerges as a respite from the hustle and bustle, allowing passengers to appreciate the beauty of the White Mountains at a leisurely pace. This intentional slowing down becomes an integral part of the SnowCoach philosophy, creating a space for reflection and connection.

C. Summing Up the SnowCoach Adventure as a Unique Opportunity to Enjoy Nature

As the SnowCoach adventure concludes, the guide encapsulates the guiding philosophy. “The people are awesome. You meet so many different people from all walks of life. I want them to connect with nature,” expresses the guide. The SnowCoach becomes a conduit for fostering connections, not only with the natural environment but also with the diverse individuals sharing the journey. The guide’s words resonate, summing up the SnowCoach adventure as a unique opportunity to escape the fast-paced world, embrace nature, and form lasting connections.

As the journey concludes, the echoes of the SnowCoach adventure linger, a testament to the guide’s philosophy of connection and appreciation for the wonders of the White Mountains. Stay tuned for more narratives, where the SnowCoach adventure continues to unfold as a transformative exploration of nature and human connection.


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