By Tim Fater
A monster nor’easter ravaged interior New England Saturday night, delivering an unprecedented pre-Halloween treat for East Coast skiers. Coming on the heels of a mid-week system which deposited the first measurable snow in the region, the weather--and the cold temps that came along with--allowed both Vermont's Killington and Maine's Sunday River to open for the season on Saturday on a base of natural and man-made snow. While the prospect of heading north for some lift-accessed skiing was tempting, there were rumors of big snow further south.
As ghouls and goblins haunted streets, bars and house parties Saturday night for the holiday's unofficial party night, the storm was peaking in intensity. By then, most weather outlets agreed the sweet spot for the highest snow totals would be northwestern Massachusetts and southern Vermont and New Hampshire. After an anxious day of following the weather, a few friends and I--caught up in the festivities late Saturday night--had finally decided on a mission to southern Vermont's Magic Mountain.
Checking the weather one last time, at 1 a.m., I set the alarm for 5:30 a.m.
When I woke, I quickly read some reports that the storm had tracked further south and east than expected. Our plan to go to Magic was in question. With foggy eyes, I scoured through maps of western Massachusetts trying to find some vertical. I came across a small family-run resort in northwestern Massachusetts called Berkshire East. Though I had never been there, it was right in the bull’s-eye of the storm. We jumped in the car supposedly heading to Magic, and ended up at Berkshire East. Trick or treat.
By the time the storm wound down Sunday morning and we were on our final approach to the area, Plainfield, Mass., a town three miles distant from Berkshire East, was reporting 30 inches of snow. The only other place to report more was Jaffrey, N.H. (31 inches).
Berkshire East's 1,840-foot summit and 1,180-foot vertical drop was all we could ask for. We joined a handful of locals and made the 45 minute hike through thigh-deep snow to the mountain's best pitch. The milky white trails clashed against the mountain's bright foliage. Having been ripped from the trees by the wind, fiery red and orange leaves danced across the snow all around us.
We exchanged cheers as one-after-another sent snow over their shoulders beneath the morning sun.