Winter sports wonderland: Snow brings outdoor options
Photo Gallery l Fun in the Snow
LENOX - Feeling adventurous, Mike Capizzi and his girlfriend Amanda Rae decided Monday to try snowshoeing at Cranwell Resort and Spa.
The Boston couple - at the urging of Rae's parents - rented lightweight snowshoes from Cranwell's Golf Pro Shop and Ski Center, eager to traverse the groomed snow trails on the resort's 18-hole golf course.
Rae and Capizzi felt confident they could handle their new-found sport, as they stay physically fit; she through skiing, he by pounding the pavement.
"I run every day, so I think my legs are in shape to do this," said Capizzi.
The Adams native and Rae were among the winter sports enthusiasts this President's Day weekend, taking advantage of the season's deepest snow cover for snowshoeing, crosscountry skiing and snowmobile riding in the Berkshires.
Last week's heavy snowfall prior to the three-day holiday proved perfect timing for those snow lovers and venues who prefer their winter sports at ground level.
Cranwell Pro Shop Assistant Manager Luke Salvatore said the more than six miles of trails for cross- country skiing and snowshoeing were well traveled.
"Starting Saturday, it's been non- stop," said Salvatore. "About 60 to 70 percent of people who come here have never been on cross-country skis or snowshoes - we're a great location for beginners."
Though it died down on Monday, the Mount Greylock State Reservation was packed with snowmobilers, snowshoers, skiers and hikers over the weekend, according to park staff.
"Sunday was really busy," said Supervisor Joe Majchrowski, unable to estimate the park's weekend attendance. He said people would enter the reservation on snowmobiles or park their cars on side roads and hike in, making a head count difficult.
Prior to the two significant snowstorms in the past two weeks, Majchrowski said attendance had been sparse.
"It was slow, because we didn't have the snow," he said. "We'd get snow and then it would warm up [and melt]."
Pittsfield State Forest was also abuzz with snowmobilers, snowshoers, Nordic skiers and even a snowboarder.
Prior to snowshoeing on Monday with his dog Roxy, a shephard- husky mix, Zach Despain of Pittsfield on Saturday rode his snowboard down the hilly terrain, avoiding the trees on either side.
"You just go around them," he said. " Besides, the trails are wide enough to snowboard safely." While snow has been a nuisance for motorists, pedestrians and some businesses, others have embraced the winter wonderland.
Berkshire Outfitters has seen people " coming in left and right" to rent snowshoes and cross-country skis, said store owner Steve Blazejewski.
"Sales have been definitely much better than before Christmas when we had no snow," he said.
Beyond his own business, Blazejewski said the snow helps hotels and restaurants fill up with skiers ready to hit the slopes of Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort and other local ski areas.
Less than two weeks before the annual Thunderbolt Ski Race in Adams, the Thunderbolt Ski Runners club is optimistic deep snow cover will hold up until race day, March 1.
"Things are looking pretty good," said Blair Mahar, the club's sargeant-at-arms.
The annual race has been canceled the previous two years due to inclement weather. This year's event will be held as a hike if no snow is on the trail.
Despite Friday's forecast for rain, the liquid precipitation could actually help pack down the snow on the Thunderbolt Trail, if its a brief, cold shower, according to Mahar. He expects the club to announce next week trail conditions and the fate of this year's race.
In the meantime, skiers and snowshoers are enjoying the current snow conditions at the Greylock Glen.
"It's been packed up there," Mahar said. "It's nice packed powder, right now."