Berkshire East was selected as the first location of the AlpineZone.com Meet Up. Seven forum members meet Sunday morning at Berkshire East in Massachusetts to share some turns, tales, and fun. A good time was had by all! As always, it is always fun and interesting to put some names to forum member handles in addition to getting to know some folks better. Plus, it sure beats skiing alone and is a lot more fun too boot! Especially considering the lack of trails open at Berkshire East this weekend due to a recent rain storm. What normally would have been an awfully boring day on the slopes was turned into a really fun day with some great folks. A group photo can be found at AlpineZone.com. Greg Blasko, founder of AlpineZone.com, is the photographer of all pictures on this page.
Despite a recent dumping of snow fall that opened The Beast up to 100% in early February, a recent rain storm closed almost half of the mountain. Flying Cloud and Big Chief were the only two decent trails open and we spent most of the afternoon cycling these two trails. Competition was closed all day due to a J3-J4 race and the rest of the open trails with exception of War Dance were rather flat and too easy for our group.
Skinned up Mount Watatic in Ashby, Massachusetts after my plans to drive to Magic Mountain were scrapped due to early morning car difficulties. After fixing the the vehicle’s dysfunction, it was too nice of a day to not get some turns in, so I turned to NELSAP for suggestions. Mount Watatic fit the bill for a less than two hour drive to a mountain with a decent but not over whelming vertical drop. I decided it would be a perfect mountain for a late afternoon skin. I quickly packed up the gear and set off for Route 119 leading towards the New Hampshire border.
Despite having closed down in 1984, Mount Watatic’s old ski trails have not grown in much. This has much to do with the high amount of activity on the mountain I found out. Snowmobilers and Winter Hikers alike were out in strong numbers on this Saturday afternoon enjoying blue bird skis and distant views from the summit. A summit access road exists for four wheeled vehicles during the Summer, but my turns would have to be earned by skinning up the old ski trails.
On the eve of Sunday December 26th a long awaited double storm barreled into New England. The temperature was cold and the moisture was immense and a light fluffy snow began falling heavily. The snow parking ban for Salem went up with Police driving the roads warning residents to move their cars or be towed away. After digging out and removing my girl friend’s car to Gallows Hill Park down the street, I realized this was the perfect storm for any powder lover with one important exception: the storm would fall only in south eastern New England and the jackpot was reserved for areas furthest removed from the mountains: the coastal areas.
“When live gives you lemons…” as the saying goes, so that is just what I did. When my morning alarm clock began buzzing, a quick peek outside revealed what I suspected the night before: that work would soon be called off due to treacherous driving conditions leaving the afternoon open for skiing. The only problem was that none of my favorite ski areas up north received much for snow fall. I grabbed my gear and drove around the corner to access Salem’s biggest and steepest vertical drop figuring I might as well take advantage of some of the deepest powder in New England even if it is in my own backyard.
Gallows Hill in Salem, MA is so called since it was the location of the Witch Hangings that resulted from the Salem Witch Trials (which actually took place in nearby Peabody, MA). A small park now rests upon the hill’s flat summit area with another park and parking area below the hill’s southern slopes. It was from this parking lot that I began my ascent of Gallows Hill.
Looking Back Towards my Car
For the Martin Luther King Holiday weekend, I had to work both Saturday and Monday. I dreaded the crowd potential of any ski area during the holiday weekend. I decided this would be a perfect weekend to explore trails off the beaten path. Way off the beaten path. Such as Lost Ski Areas that are no longer in operation.
For Sunday, I choose local Sea View Ski Area in Rowley, MA. I had previously made a summer hiking trip to this lost area for exploration purposes. I thought some fun and interesting turns could be had down the narrow trail that is currently a leg of the Bay Circuit Trail. So I embarked on a solo expedition to the Lost Ski Area formerly known as Sea View which is also known as Prospect Hill.