No Repeat Button
Luke getting ready to leave Wachusett’s parking lot
It is often easy to overlook the adventure in your backyard or miss an opportunity adventure at your favorite destination. For the past two years Luke has been telling me about skiing the road on the backside of Mount Wachusett. I have been doubtful of Luke’s claim as I have never seen the road in good enough condition to ski. Looking back, it may be that on a day the road was in skiable shape, we headed to the ‘Stash’ instead.
Taking a quick break before joining the road
The other day I was forced to abandon the lifts at Mount Wachusett during what was shaping up to be an excellent powder day because I had forgotten my lift ticket. Not to be discouraged or to miss out on a powder day, I skinned up Midstate Trail from Mount Wachusett’s parking lot and gained the road. I followed the road to the Summit of Mount Wachusett and skied Conifer to Mount Wachusett’s base.
Fog and flurries on the way up. We took advantage my tracks from the day before
It turned out to be a truly great experience but there was one problem with it. The road was in perfect condition to ski with a ten inch base of snow and a fresh eight to ten inches on top of that. Furthermore, the only tracks on the road were mine, meaning that I would have had virgin powder turns the entire run. I had never seen the road in such prime shape and it was begging me to be ski it.
There is normally a great view from here
The problem was that I had not told anyone my intention for the day. Also, if I had told anyone my intention, they were originally to meet Luke and skin and ski Mount Wachusett. When Luke bailed, my intention changed to riding the lifts and savoring the pow; when I could not turn up my season pass, my intention changed yet again to skinning up and skiing down. With the road in such good shape, would my intention change again to ski the road? If something bad did happen to me who would know where I am and what had happened? My intentions had changed numerous times already…so much so that even I had trouble keeping up with my plan.
I decided the wise decision was not to ski the road alone and opted to skin to the resort’s summit and ski one of the designated trails to the mountain’s base. Despite having a cell phone, knowing the route, and being comfortable with the terrain, the decision made the most sense to me at the time: my heart told me to ski the road but my gut said to wait for another day.
Icy conditions near the top
The next day, I convinced Luke to meet me at Mount Wachusett to skin the road and ski it back down. I was excited for the opportunity to ski the road and anxious to pick up where I left off the day before. On our skin to the top, however, Luke and I encountered an obstacle. After I left the mountain the day before, the snow had turned to rain, turning the powder I skinned through to the summit the day before into powder coated with a hard shell. Far from ideal conditions to ski; nevertheless, Luke and I soldiered on to the summit hoping to find better conditions at the top.
Heading toward the lift
Sadly, the conditions never improved leaving Luke and I to once again ski off the resort side of the mountain. We were tempted to give skiing the road a try, but were discouraged by some tracks of a previous skier’s aborted attempt. Their tracks showed the signs that skiing the road would be difficult and probably not a great deal of fun. We made the best of the day earning some great turns on the groomers and getting in a solid morning workout. It is a shame you can not press the repeat button on a day or conditions because I have a sneaking suspicion that I gave up one of the best runs of the season the other day because my gut said it wasn’t the smart thing to do. While I am comfortable with my decision, I do regret missing out on the experience of skiing the road. Hopefully next time I will be able to find someone to accompany me on the adventure. Either that, or leave a better itinerary behind.