Notchview: The Usual Suspects

At zero dark thirty on Sunday, I left NJ for Notchview Reservation in Windsor, Massachusetts. The mission: rendezvous with the usual suspects.

In Pittsfield, I stopped for breakfast at Otto’s, across from the Berkshire County courthouse. Who ever heard of a Cuban omelet? It was tasty as well as novel, and the coffee was good. Then I set out for Notchview. Although I’ve skied there a half dozen times over the years, the last few miles are always a bit sketchy. “Hmmm, I think I turn right here.”

It’s a long gradual climb through Dalton to Windsor. Situated atop a plateau, Notchview is 50 miles southeast of Vermont’s Prospect Mountain, and 200 feet lower in elevation. The two ski centers share similar weather patterns.

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First Tracks at Mt Van Hoevenberg

Who needs West Yellowstone when you’ve got early season skiing nearby? After Thanksgiving dinner, I set out up the Thruway for Lake Placid. Gusting wind pushed my new used VW shooting brake around, treating the ski box as a spinnaker.

Mount van Hoevenberg skiers

Rain washed away the snow Mount van Ho had the previous weekend, leaving only the 500-meter loop of machine made snow, courtesy of the Snow Factory. After a leisurely Friday morning breakfast, I clipped into skate skis. The Snow Factory loop had held up through the warming trend, still 18” deep.

After a couple laps around the loop, I ran in to Duncan Douglas. We shot the breeze, he intended to ski the Porter Mountain trail. But he’s a larger than life two-time Olympian, and I’m just a guy from Jersey. I opted to stay on the mini loop.

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Wild Wings: Secret XC Stash in Peru VT

“Did you see how much air I got?”

“I stuck the landing! I stuck the landing!”

When I rolled into Wild Wings, half a dozen kids were taking turns skating down a hill in front of the base lodge and doing tricks off a berm at the edge of their parking lot. Catching air, 180s, you name it. Olympian Andy Newell inspired a generation with his video Generation X Ski, part of which featured him doing tricks on cross-country skis in a halfpipe.

Five years ago, we arrived at Wild Wings in late afternoon, and skied for 45 minutes as it grew dark. Low clouds and mist in the pines cast a mysterioso vibe that had me itching to return.

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