Since I was running a snowshoe race in Greylock Glen today, I packed ski
clothes and gear and went for the double header on a wonderful sunny day
in the Berkshires. Snowshoe race was tougher than expected but luckily
reduced to 3.8 from 4.5 because some of the open areas lacked snow.
Struggled a bit more than usual on the hills, then changed into ski
gear, luckily it was warm enough that I did not freeze doing this.
Received a tip to head to the end of Gould Road past the farm to begin
and this removed a bunch of short multiple marked decision points and
made the initial ascent much more direct and simple. The track was
pretty worn in by snowmobile until the Bellows Pipe , Thunderbolt
junction, then it was mostly snowshoe tracks, saw a few heading down
Bellows Pipe on snowshores and one guy on normal cross country skis.
Only about 3 kick turns needed to ascend the steep bits but I was really
feeling it, either because of the earlier effort on snow shoes or else
lack of fitness or lack of virtue. 

After about 90 minutes hit the AT which is the indication  that you are
just about there, even though the summit was .5 miles away and then the
crowds of all stripe emerged. I guess no one read the memo about
ascending Bellows pipe because they were pouring up Thunderbolt (about
10 folks, post holing and snowshoing, in fact I did not see anyone else
skinning the whole time) I did not have summit fever so I found a sunny
spot to get ready for the descent. As I de-skinned about 10 people
passed on the way down, skiers with dogs, snowshoers and 3 postholers
without a non-cotton garment between them. 

Eventually started down and it was well covered except for a few odd
rocks, and the sun was having an effect on the surface. The initial
descent is fairly steep and dodging ascenders is always an issue but had
some good turns. There is a snow fence about halfway down to hold snow
and (a guy who will patrol the race told me thought they do not like to
admit it , to catch skiers during the race) If you are going to
straightline it from the top you really will be going fast by the time
that curve is reached. They are hoping no one will break the record but
if someone really goes for it they can get down real fast.

The runout held up pretty well as I leapfrogged two groups of skiers. A
wonderful day in the sun  with the crowds on the commenwealth's tallest

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