NATURE by Kezia Bacon, Correspondent
I decided in my early forties to learn to ski. At first it was so I could accompany my son, who was into snowboarding at the time, but he eventually decided that basketball would be his winter sport instead. Thus two or three years went by with my skis gathering dust in a corner of the garage. But this winter I wanted to make a change. While my son had no interest in hitting the slopes, I could go on my own. Thanks to a friend’s invitation to ski at Wachusett, I felt compelled to return to Blue Hills Ski Area in Canton first, to remind myself that I could actually get down the mountain (or hill) in one piece.
I chose a Thursday morning in January. The Blue Hills Ski Area opens at 10am on Thursdays and Fridays, which would provide enough time for me to ski for a few hours and still get home to greet my son when he got off the school bus. It happened to be one of those sunny, warm days in January – with temperatures in the high 40s. I got lucky. It wasn’t even windy. Besides the Ski Patrol and the young children enrolled in the Snow Puppies lessons program, there were just a few adult skiers there — alone and in pairs — and me.
Heading first to the very-easy lessons slopes, I was surprised to see that the ski area had been renovated. There was an additional Magic Carpet lift, and the mountain had been reconfigured to provide more space for different levels of learners. Blue Hills can be busy in the late afternoons and evenings, as well as on the weekends, and these changes seemed like they would promote better flow and less congestion on the slopes.
After determining that I did, in fact, remember how to ski, I approached the chair lift on Big Blue, so I could access Patriots Path and some of the intermediate routes. Even on my ride up, I could see that things had changed for the better. In the past, there was always a suggestion of a trail under the ski lift; it was on the map, but I never actually saw it in use. This time, it was evident that a lot of work had gone into improving and widening the Beer’s Bluff trail, and lots of people were using it.
My trip to Blue Hills occurred shortly after that prolonged cold spell we had in January. There was plenty of snow on the trails already. However it was clear too, that Blue Hills had put some serious work into grooming. Their website indicates that they recently doubled their snowmaking capacity, replacing their pump house and snow guns. The intertwining routes of Patriots Path, The Chute, Sonya, Lovers Lane, Revolution, plus Big Blue and Beer’s Bluff provide diverse options and keep things interesting over the course of the day. I eventually worked my way up to Big Blue, but I saved some of the narrower, more difficult trails for “next time.”
Now that I’ve been out to Wachusett (which is an article for another time), I’ve had a taste of what a taller, larger mountain has to offer – more trails, longer trails, more space in general. But Wachusett is a 2-hour drive from here. As I continue to improve my skills on the slopes, I have every intention of returning to the Blue Hills Ski Area. It’s nearby, it’s affordable, and it offers enough (16 trails and a terrain park) to keep me entertained.
The Blue Hills Ski Area is very family-friendly. There are private, semi-private, and group lessons for all ages, offered both as single-use and in sessions. You can bring your own equipment or rent it there. The lodge offers restrooms, refreshments, storage, and a warm, welcoming fireplace. On weekdays, you can go as early as 1pm or 10am (depending on the day) and stay until 9pm. Weekends and most holidays the ski area is open from 8-8. Find it at 4001 Washington Street in Canton, just a half mile off Route 93. For more information, visit https://www.bluehillsboston.com
Kezia Bacon’s articles appear courtesy of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, a local non-profit organization devoted to protecting our waters. For membership information and a copy of their latest newsletter, contact NSRWA at (781) 659-8168 or visit www.nsrwa.org. To browse 20 years of nature columns, visit http://keziabaconbernstein.blogspot.com