Friday, January 10, 2014

Wachusett Mountain and Nashoba Valley - 1/8/14

Time for another GTNS update, this time its a double feature! Wachusett and Nashoba in one day! Going from Stratton on Sunday to Nashoba on Wednesday was a bit of a shock.

Wachusett Mountain
Nashoba Valley  (This was about the best view I could find)
In my efforts to make you, the people from Massachusetts internet happy, I reluctantly added Wachusett and Nashoba to my list of New England skiing. Much to my surprise, I am glad I did. I started the day late, planning on skiing just Wachusett. As I headed west on another MA highway filled with assholes who don't know how to drive, I passed Nashoba and realized I had a golden opportunity to save myself some money on gas and knock both mountains out in one shot! 
My mandatory Summit shot. Wachusett.
Wachusett's (surprisingly large) Lodge & Base area

I sat down on Wachusett's summit lift around 10:30 and was whisked upwards in beautiful 30 degree sunny conditions. The snow was surprisingly nice considering all the rain and high temps we had early in the week. I skied about the main part of the mountain, checking out the black diamond trails, which were nice, but realistically probably not over a blue anywhere else. I stumbled across this beautiful mid mountain lodge, just dripping with New England charm. Of every mid mountain lodge I have seen, I feel like this one has more charm than any other. I had to stop and grab this photo, which has turned out to be one of my favorites I have taken yet this season. Beautiful.
Mid-mountain lodge at Wachusett, talk about New England charm.
After an hour or so I had had my fill of the main mountain, and headed over to the Minuteman Express Quad to spend some quality time in the park. It was not the biggest park in New England, or even in MA, but it had some cool stuff to play around with. Upon entering the park, the park attendant called me out on my NS stickers, and I was quite happy to find another Newschooler (user name Pudge). We talked for a bit about the park, and about my tour. I spent another hour and a half or so lapping the park, located on the trail 'Look Mom'. There were definitely some features I enjoyed a lot. A real steep spine offered a lot of fun, along with some pretty cool boxes up near the top. Unfortunately for me, the park really was not too beginner friendly, and in my opinion, the jumps were a bit mis-shapen, requiring a very fast entry speed for such a small jump. Apparently this is the first year Wachusett has had a jump line though, so I imagine it takes some practice to get good at making jumps. They were workable for sure, just not ideal. The park was well groomed and despite my dislike of park passes, they do keep traffic down (something Nashoba needs badly, but I will go into that later). Wachusett has a solid, intermediate skill level terrain park. They also have an airbag, which is always fun, but I didn't particularly feel like forking over the 25 dollars to use it for the day when I knew I was leaving after a few hours. The only downside to the airbag, is they have no jump of similar shape and size for people to take the tricks from the bag to the slopes. 
#Sagaselfie with NS user Pudge at the top of Wachusett's park.
Tour of Wachusett Park as of 1/8/14

Around 2 or so, I decided I had had my fill of Wachusett, and was eager to check out Nashoba, as I had heard good things about their parks. I packed all my gear up, and made the quick trip over. It was kind of an odd feeling to leave a ski area mid-day to go to a ski area. I pulled into Nashoba around 2:30 and was greeted with a very small 'mountain' with what seemed like hundreds of kids there to learn. For such a small mountain to have such a ridiculous amount of people was almost shocking to me. There was even a downhill race going on. It seems silly to me racing on 300' of vertical, but if you live near by and this is what you have, you make the best of it. I took 45 minutes to ski the (whole) mountain before moving over to the park.
Nashoba Valley from the base.
Summit of Nashoba
Nashoba's park, in stark contrast to the rest of the mountain (not to say its bad, just small), was absolutely great! I loved it! Located on 'Sundance', way off to skiers left of the mountain is tucked a hidden gem, and the locals who are unfortunately stuck in Mass, have a hell of a good park to park to practice in before heading north to the White and Green Mountains. I am not usually one to rave about how good something is, as my previous posts have shown, but in 300 vertical feet, the park crew there have managed to cram several features in for park rats of every skill level. It may not have the best flow due to size constraints, but everything is there. There were a load of skiers lapping the park, and its always great to be able to watch someone throw a cork 7 mute over a pretty big jump while some kid learns his first straight air over a small jump right next to it. I don't think I have come across any mountain that managed to blend so many different skill levels into one park. I think I spent a solid 2-3 hours lapping the Sundance park before tanking the flat rail with the donkey dick up top and hurting my leg a bit. After that I was pretty sore, spent a few more laps watching the other freeskiers decked out in Saga sessioning the park, and trying to make some other stuff happen before calling it a day and heading out. 
Nashoba Parks, My hidden gem for terrain parks so far.
Tour of Nashoba Valley Park as of 1/8/14
The one thing I will say about Nashoba, is that if I have ever seen a mountain in dire, dire need of a park pass program, its Nashoba. On almost every single lap through the park, at some point or another, everyone in the park had to stop what they were doing, and wait for the horde, and I mean horde, of little kids from the school groups to pass through. There had to be 30-40 kids who would pass through in waves, cutting everyone off, side cutting jumps and lips, and obviously failing to call their drop. On top of that they would all heckle anyone who messed up from lift to boot. I feel like, although most mountains do not need a park pass program, because of Nashoba's limited space, the kids end up in the park more easily than at most other mountains. Its one thing for young kids to be in there, honestly working towards progressing their abilities, but coming through 40 deep and shutting the park down for 5 minutes as they pass through is unacceptable and dangerous to everyone involved. 

Now for the obvious comparison part of the article, as both mountains are located so close, and there are so few mountains in Mass. For all mountain riding, Wachusett is clearly the better value, its substantially larger, and clearly a good place to learn how to ski or ride. As of the writing of this article though, Nashoba has Wachusett beat hands down in my mind as far as the park is concerned. That could change though, as I saw a lot of features on the side of the trail at Wachusett, and they have substantially more space to work with than Nashoba does. It is still fairly early season, so anything can happen, but I am extremely impressed with the park crew at Nashoba for doing so much at such a small place. 

Now for the breakdowns!
Wachusett Mountain-
Good for-
Beginner to Intermediate Skiers
Locals obviously, there isn't much skiing available in MA
Anyone looking to Learn

Bad for- 
Advanced & Expert skiers looking for a challenge
Anyone looking for glades, as there are not any

Nashoba Valley- 
Good for-
Park Rats 
People Learning

Bad for- 
Anyone else, it is really, just extremely small. 

Will I return to either? I could see returning to Nashoba for the park for sure, Its a bit of a drive for me though. The value of both is decent, and they charge accordingly for their size, but neither are destination resorts. They are very clearly local mountains for those stuck in Mass to get their  ski fix in between weekend trips up to Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. I am definitely glad the internet talked me into going to them. 

As always, I welcome comments and constructive criticism on all aspects of the GTNS. Please do not forget to subscribe to me on Twitter and Instagram for the latest updates about where I am and more photos of the places I am at that may or may not make it into the full updates! Not only that but its a great way to let me know if you are at the same place as me so we can meet up and ride together!

On a small side note to those of you here from Newschoolers (which is most of you), I apologize for the slight format change. Cross posting everything to both here and Newschoolers takes up a large amount of time, and bloggers editing tools are a bit better than NS in my opinion, so I will be linking to there from now on, which will save me a lot of time and effort. If you have any issues with the blogger format, please let me know and I will do my best to make it as readable and enjoyable as possible.

As always, keep on shredding!

Copyright Charles Boulanger and The Grand tour of New England Skiing, 2013-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog's author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Charles Boulanger and The Grand Tour of New England Skiing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 

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