The Jewels of New Eng­land


SkiTrax - - Contents - By Thom Perkins

by Thom Perkins

New Eng­land has the dens­est pop­u­la­tion of cross-coun­try-ski ar­eas in the U.S. Each area holds its own charms. When se­lect­ing a place to ski, many times, the pro­mo­tion of larger ar­eas at­tract ones' at­ten­tion. Ar­eas with many kilo­me­tres of trails, a large rental shop and in­struc­tional staff are great to visit. How­ever, there are ar­eas that are not large that pro­vide skiers an equally won­der­ful and some­times su­pe­rior ex­pe­ri­ence. Let's look at why one should visit the smaller ar­eas for a great ski and of­fer a few rec­om­men­da­tions of what's out there.

First there's the pace. At a smaller area, the pace is usu­ally slower – some­times the equiv­a­lent of is­land time. Savour the re­lax­ation – you're out there to kick back and en­joy.

Next, there's the snow. Ar­eas that groom ex­clu­sively with large-class ma­chines with power-tillers rapidly trans­form the snow into a hard pow­der and, af­ter sev­eral days, into hard­pack, which needs to be groomed daily to main­tain any sem­blance of “pow­der.” This is due to the fric­tional heat gen­er­ated by the ro­tat­ing tiller teeth at the back of the ma­chines. The heat that is gen­er­ated bonds snow crys­tals to­gether in a process known as “sin­ter­ing.” Tillers rapidly turn fluffy pow­der snow into snow that has the con­sis­tency of very dense wind-drifted snow. This is good in a way. Tilled snow rapidly de­vel­ops “body.” It will not col­lapse un­der the pres­sure of ei­ther a skat­ing mo­tion or a Clas­si­cal “kick.” It also pro­vides a re­sis­tant sur­face for pole plants and a pre­dictable sur­face for down­hill tech­niques. Un­for­tu­nately, how­ever, af­ter sev­eral passes and a few days with a tiller, the snow will lose its pow­dery con­sis­tency and be­come more like porcelain. You will need to use the wax tem­per­a­ture rec­om­men­da­tion for “tran­si­tion snow” on your wax tin if the snow has been groomed with a power-tiller. This is true even with a re­cent pow­der snow­fall.

Smaller ar­eas that groom with snow­mo­bile-size tech­nol­ogy don't heat the snow up as rapidly, and the snow will stay pow­dery much longer. Good small-area groom­ing staff (fre­quently the owner of the area) spend much time out on the trails and pay a lot of at­ten­tion to the qual­ity of their groom­ing. Af­ter a big dump of snow, you might want to wait a cou­ple of days to give the snow some time to bond a bit so you won't col­lapse the snow­pack un­der the weight of your kick. When the trails have a good base and a new light snow­fall – say one to three inches on top – the small ma­chines will pro­vide some of the most de­light­ful ski­ing you can imag­ine. Fur­ther, small ma­chines fol­low a bet­ter line for the track and plat­form, yield­ing a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence out in the for­est.

Now let's take a look at some ar­eas that you might want to ex­plore. As in the sport-fish­ing world, there are se­cret spots that are never dis­cussed and those hold some of the best fish. Wher­ever you live, you should ex­plore for your­self and find your own se­cret spot. Here are some of my “se­cret” New Eng­land spots.

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