Thursday May 13, 2010

ADAMS -- With season number one safely in the past and season two looming large with its first day on Saturday, staff members and vendors are feverishly readying Bascom Lodge for a bigger turnout than it enjoyed last summer, the first for the new operating crew.

And since the lodge is at the summit of Mount Greylock, 3,491 feet above sea level and the state's tallest peak, preparations for the summer season went on during the past few days in spite of snow, cold, high wind and frequent fog.

New furniture was brought in for the bedrooms, new lighting fixtures hung in the dinning room and enclosed porch, new blinds installed on the windows, and new equipment and flooring was put in the kitchen.

With the new license, beer and wine will soon grace the lodge's coolers.

After this weekend's grand opening, breakfast, lunch and dinner will be served seven days a week, and the popular Wednesday evening speaker/dinner series will continue this season.

The small gift shop will feature work by local artists, such as postcards featuring the photography of the late Bill Tague.

Lodge operators are working on another speaker series on a monthly basis featuring local authors, according to partner Peter Dudek.

There will also be a creative residency in which people from the fields of art, science or history would live there for a period of time exploring aspects of their specialty as it relates to the Mount Greylock environment.

Artists workshops are also being organized on conjunction with several local cultural institutions, Dudek said.

The menu for breakfast this year will remain the same, with the addition of baked goods. Examples include a granola and yogurt parfait, pancakes, poached eggs on house-made English muffins, and a Hadley asparagus and gruyere omelet.

The lunch menu will vary with the change in seasons, but at first will include smoked trout chowder, sirloin burgers, and a pulled pork sandwich on a ciabatta roll.

For the dinner menu, the single seating is at 7 p.m., consists of a single menu offering (with a vegetarian alternative) every night. This Sunday, for example, dinner includes artichoke custard with shaved fennel salad; bacon-wrapped chicken spittini stuffed with sausage, toasted bread crumbs, raisins and pine nuts; and frozen chocolate-espresso and hazelnut meringata.

Much of the ingredients used in food served at Bascom Lodge is locally grown, Dudek noted.

With the enclosed porch converted for use as overflow seating for the dining room or for private parties, more special bookings are expected. Already, six weddings and a fundraiser celebrating the 50th anniversary of Berkshire Community College have been booked for the lodge.

Sube Bowser, the newly arrived manager of the operation, said she anticipates an exciting summer.

"I'm really looking forward to these dinners," she said. "It should be fun and interesting. They have a wonderful concept and they have it all mapped out."

John Dudek, along with his brother Peter and associate Brad Parsons, were awarded the historic curatorship by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation last year. Instead of paying rent, they will be asked to regularly maintain and upgrade the one-of-a-kind facility, using a portion of the profits garnered by operating the mountaintop lodge and its eatery, throughout the 25-year lease.

On Saturday and Sunday, Bascom Lodge will celebrate the opening of the season with a series of free Native American performances. Activities start at 11 a.m. each day, with the raising of the Healing Winds Tipi.

At 1 p.m. James Ettsity Jr., a Navajo Medicine Man, will offer a traditional Native American mountain blessing honoring the mountain, the entire natural habitat and visitors to the mountain.

There will also be storytelling, drumming, singing and social friendship dances, followed by a special performance by Grammy nominated Joseph FireCrow, a renowned Native American flute man and singer, on Saturday evening.

Breakfast is served from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. (reservations required for parties of six or more), lunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (no reservations needed) and dinner at 6 p.m. (reservations required). Call (413) 743-1591 to inquire about reservations.

The lodge is expected to employ 15 full-time and several more part-time workers this summer, Dudek said.

And expectations are that there will be plenty of hungry mouths and minds to feed.

On Oct. 12, 2009, alone, more than 1,500 hikers trudged up the side of Massachusetts' highest peak -- 3,491 feet -- during last year's Greylock Ramble. Nearly 4,000 others traveled up the mountain in their cars, trucks, motorcycles and on foot. A single-day record of 6,324 people reached the summit the day before. In July, there were 33,379 visitors to the summit.

Bascom Lodge is a historic structure and one of the few remaining summit lodges in the Northeast. Both Bascom Lodge and the Veterans War Memorial Tower were built in the mid-1930s by the Civil Conservation Corps.

The 5,800-square-foot Bascom Lodge includes a kitchen, dining room, oil heat, well water, enclosed porch, store area, stone fireplace, living quarters for employees, high ceilings with hand-cut spruce beams and dramatic views of the surrounding region.

To reach Scott Stafford:
sstafford@berkshireeagle.com
or (413) 496-6241.