Sunday May 13, 2012

ADAMS -- It is going to be a busy couple of years for the operators of Bascom Lodge and state-hired work crews atop Mount Greylock.

About $1 million of federal and state funding has come through to help repair fundamental building issues for both the lodge and the Veterans War Memorial Tower.

Work on the lodge has already begun, with operators Brad Parsons, John Dudek and brother Peter Dudek hard at work continuing the renovation work they began three years ago after winning a state contract for a 25-year lease.

In exchange for operating the eight-room lodge and restaurant -- with a capacity for 34 overnight guests -- they agreed to repair and maintain the building. With the help of government funding for the bigger issues, such as replacing the aging roof, installing insulated windows and waterproofing the sub-grade basement, work is moving quickly.

"We're three years ahead of schedule," John Dudek said. "We figured it to be a 10-year restoration, but it's getting close. A few more things to do and then it's just a matter of maintenance and operation."

These infrastructure improvements are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014.

The Dudeks and Parsons are continuing this year with replacing 1970s-era fixtures and decor with period pieces to better reflect the era in which the lodge was built. It first opened in 1938.

Already, the lodge seems to have taken on a rejuvenated feel.

Much of the original wooden paneling has been re-treated, flooring replaced or restored, new period-style furnishings brought into the lobby and guest rooms, along with upgraded plumbing and electrical systems. The guest rooms have been renovated with new decor, moldings and fixtures.

Meanwhile, John Dudek is working on the season's menu choices, which have drawn the attention of local diners in past seasons.

It's not the usual fare one might find at a summit lodge.

Pecan pancakes, jerk chicken and hummus are among the choices for breakfast and lunch, along with more traditional offerings.

Dinners are a different affair, with a menu that features locally grown ingredients in dishes like chicken in a pomegranate and walnut sauce, or cedar planked maple glazed salmon.

New this year will be ice cream, ice pops and sorbet made on site by Parsons.

"I'm buying my own freezer and starting my own operation," he said. "It's a lot of work but we think it will be a big hit."

The roads to the summit will open next Saturday.

Because of all the work being done at the lodge, it will only be open on weekends for lunch and dinner.

Starting June 1, it will be open through Oct. 21 for breakfast, lunch, dinner and overnight guests. Special parties can hire the lodge for weddings, anniversaries and reunions.

Last year, Yankee Magazine named Bascom Lodge as the "best meal with a view," and this year added "best mountaintop lodging."

The lodge employs eight full-time employees and five interns from MCLA.

Peter Dudek is bringing in cultural events and artist workshops through the season that focus on history, nature and horticulture with the help of IS183 and the Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area.

The cultural events are free to the public, Peter Dudek said.

For next weekend's opening, a number of events are planned, including a Native American tepee raising and drumming demonstration, a mountain blessing and music by flautist Joseph Firecrow.

Saturday, hikers and bikers took advantage of the sunny day and were already trickling up the mountain trails for exercise and the views from the summit. When the roads open next weekend, that trickle will became a flood of visitors, as it does every year.

On Oct. 12, 2009, more than 1,500 hikers trudged up the side of Massachusetts' highest peak -- 3,491 feet -- during that year's Greylock Ramble. Nearly 4,000 others traveled up the mountain in their cars, trucks, motorcycles and on foot. In July 2008, 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.