School’s Out

The Hike toward Echo Lake
Luke out in front

On Thursday morning I took my girlfriend to Mount Wachusett for a morning snowboard lesson with my sister.  My pass is not valid during school vacation week (not that I would ski there anyway during a school vacation) so the plan was to drop her off then try to find a way to keep myself entertained for a few hours.  I called Luke and suggested we try to skin the backside of Mount Wachusett (a possibility given our recent snow) and ski down the maintained ski trails.

A very empty trail
Luke and Will enjoying the solitude

Arriving at Mount Wachusett was quite a surprise, as traffic for the mountain was backed up onto Route 140.  Seeing that Luke and I have been consistently parking in rows one and two the last few weeks, I was shocked by the mass of people now converging on the mountain.  After dropping the girl off at the snowboard school, I continued up the road to the hiker’s parking lot where I met up with Luke and his brother, Will, who decided to join us.  We dropped a car at the hiker’s lot and proceeded to the Echo Lake trail entrance.  The plan was to skin up the Administration Road from Echo Lake and follow it to the summit of Mount Wachusett; from there we would descend via the Conifer trail and exit where the road meets the trail.  We would then follow the road back our car.

Enjoying a beautiful day
We were forced to carry our skis the last hundred yards

I later learned that Wachusett had been experiencing record numbers over the school vacation.  From what I saw, this information did not surprise me.  Descending Conifer was crazy as the trail was not only extremely overpopulated, but also populated with people who had no business being on the trail.  The trail was filled with skiers snowplowing and snowboarders falling leafing down the trail, essentially just acting as slowly moving targets for the rest of us.

Will taking a break before our descent

Our experience on the backside of the mountain, however, was very different from our experience on the trail.  We encountered only one other person on our hike up the backside of the mountain, and we met them within the first twenty five feet of the trail.  Our ascent was very peaceful, with very few signs of civilization; it is amazing to that a mere mile away was a total zoo, and we were having an true wilderness experience.

Me waiting for Luke and Will (sort of patiently) 

We had a great day skinning up the backside of the mountain and had an incredibly unique experience compared to the majority of the mountains users that day.  Additionally, Luke and I were able to share this experience with his brother, and show him an alternate use for the mountain that we all use regularly.  While it was not an epic day it was a rewarding day, not only for me but for my girlfriend as well.  She is getting very close to linking turns on her snowboard, and I am anxious to show her the secrets of the mountain that most people do not see.

The big crowds make it easy to sneak on the mountain and blend in