I’m probably a better skier than anything else. It’s my best skill. I thank my parents for starting me on skis at just age three. They tell me that although they started me at the local hill—Springfield Ski Club in Blandford, MA (where an annual family membership cost right around $35)—it wasn’t until a day at Hogback Mountain in Marlboro, Vermont, that I really enjoyed skiing and expressed that I wanted to “ski and ski and ski.” Back in Blandford, my folks enrolled me in ski lessons, and between those and skiing with my parents, I learned to ski the right way. Now it seems that many of the new skiers and riders are dropped off and picked up at the end of the day. They never learn the skier’s responsibility code, or even basic manners. It seems like common sense to me that you wouldn’t speed by someone who is just learning to ski–it’s dangerous and you might scare them–and you wouldn’t cut in a lift line. But if you’re just dropped off at the ski area, there’s no one to teach you these concepts. That’s why I’d rather ski at less-popular ski areas where everyone isn’t stepping all over each other.

But back to the old days. When we lived in Western Mass, our home mountain was Springfield Ski Club, but my parents would still take my brother and I to other Berkshire ski areas like Berkshire East, Jiminy Peak, Brodie, Mt. Tom, Taconic Trails, Berkshire Snow Basin, Chickley Alp (most of which have since closed), and to places in Southern Vermont. My brother became a great skier. For fun, he’d leave one of his skis at the bottom and ski down with one ski. He also worked at Springfield Ski Club.

When my family moved to Eastern Mass, we skied mostly in Southern New Hampshire, at places like Crotched, King Ridge, Pat’s Peak, and Sunapee. We’d also make longer trips further north and ski all over New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine. I’m grateful to my folks for exposing me to a large variety of New England ski areas–big and small–and other natural attractions. During my college years, I stopped skiing. But soon after, I realized what I missed and I made skiing an important part of my life.

Since 1998, I have documented nearly every ski trip with photos–a good idea, since many New England areas I used to ski have gone out of business. I’m nostalgic for the type of skiing that I remember in my youth where I’d grab a rope or struggle with a T-bar ride up the hill. I have so many fond memories of skiing with family and friends. It’s sad to learn of another ski area that has gone under, knowing that I’ll never be able to return and capture a bit of my past. But we can return to many of those areas. They’re becoming overgrown and some of their lifts have been removed, but most “lost” ski areas are just sitting there, waiting to be explored. My parents and I have hiked many of our old favorites, and of course I save the moment with photos.

My current favorite ski areas are Mad River Glen in Waitsfield, VT, Berkshire East in Charlemont, MA, Tenney in Plymouth, NH, and Saddleback in Rangeley, ME. But if the conditions are right and the crowds are thin, I’m happy just to be out skiing, no matter where I am.

2 thoughts on “Skiing

  1. Rick Payer

    Someone who shares some of my current and past vision for the sport. The chroniclizing of ski days by photo and journal, excellent idea.

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