Night skiing with a city view

“Is it a real slope? Boston doesn’t have slopes”. This was my mum’s perception when I told her I was going night skiing near Boston in Massachusetts.

All we’ve/I’ve known since I was under 2 years old is skiing in the French Alps, getting there by taking the Eurostar, then a bus winding through narrow roads climbing higher and higher, away from civilisation and into an onslaught of popping ears. Pretty far from my London home for a ski session.

Rival that with an hour or so’s drive outside Boston on Wachusett Mountain? An amazing, new thought for me. I was short on time this visit (only a long weekend), so night skiing was the best option taking into account everything else we wanted to do. And my, my, was it beautiful!

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As suggested earlier, I’ve been skiing since I was younger than 2. Well, I was first put on skis when I was 18 months old. All I did was shuffle then. Going every year since then has spawned a love for skiing but perhaps one I took for granted: not having gone the past few years, I thought I was doing fine but realised the burning desire to just get on those skis, don my once-thought embarrassing helmet and hurl down a mountain.

And that I did. On Wachusett Mountain, in Worcester County in Massachusetts. It’s elevated 2006ft (611m), which just about surpasses the UK’s “mountain-not-hill” criteria of 600m. So yes, it is small, but it has 22 trails and 8 lifts. It gets its own natural snow, but when these are low, it gets topped up. We had no issue as it snowed the day before, when I arrived in Boston (great for skiing, not so great for landing a plane).

“It’s no Alps! Don’t expect a lot”, said Alan, but I wasn’t worried. It reminded me of a mini-Alps resort. Each trail had its own adventure and changed the way you skiied; you didn’t necessarily think you were on a small mountain. There was a cute wooden cabin halfway down a trail which made me think of the mulled wine/hot chocolate stop off points on the Alps; though this Massachusetts cabin could definitely have done with serving alcoholic drinks.

I mainly just wanted that feeling skiing back – even if the views in the Alps are beyond beautiful and striking. But the view from Wachusett was quite extraordinary. Here I was, with my ski gear on, surrounded in snow, cruising down a mountain on skis… and there was Boston’s skyline. A skyline I’ve seen from many places: Top of the Hub in Boston’s city, the plane, in a car, but never while I was skiing.

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The moment I kicked my first boot into my ski, I felt a rush of excitement and relief: I was home. This is what I know, what comes as second nature to me. More came back to me than I expected – all my little habits I developed over years of skiing revealed themselves without me even thinking about it. Placing my gloves over my poles (though that one’s obvious); my poles straps over my skis when leaving them somewhere (again, obvious); my bum shuffle when getting to the end of a chair lift; and taking off my first ski with my other ski. Though, possibly my favourite was zooming past Alan and automatically mimicking Road Runner – “meep meep” – something my brother and I constantly did on family holidays in the Alps.

The thing I missed most about skiing – and now miss all over again – is the exhilaration. When else can you so smoothly go that fast in stunning surroundings? When else can you adapt a surface to get the exact rush you want to: sharp turns, smooth and wide, off-piste jumps, moguls? It brings out the most playful in all of us and it’s still a great workout, plus it makes you feel so incredibly alive. I find that one of the best feelings in the world and I increasingly think that’s what I strive for in my travels.


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