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Thunderbolt Trail

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
I usually don't start posts but I have to share this experience.

Today I hiked the Thunderbolt Trail. The Thunderbolt is a trail on the side of the highest mountain in Massachussetts, Mt Greylock. The trail was the location of the Eastern Nationals and occasionally the US Nationals starting in 1935 all the way to 1954. It is now closed and overgrown with ferns and sticker bushes. You can still see the trail because the trees haven't grown in on the steeper slopes where the flatter slopes the trees are much smaller because they are newer.

It was an amazing hike, from the bottom of Greylock to the top, 3200 feet. It took 2 hours to walk the trail where it took the skiers in the 30's 2 minutes to ski down it.

All the way up I kept imagining these guys in long wooden ski's, beartrap bindings, leather thongs holding them on their leather boots, flying down a trail that at spots had 36 percent grades. The first downhill race such that when out of control they would fall, get back up and head downhill. It was not uncommon for the winner to fall a couple of times.

These skiers were so tough that on new snow days they side stepped up to the top of the trail from the bottom to groom it. On good days they could walk the trail up.

In the 30's and before WW2 there were 5000 spectators lining a small narrow trail from top to bottom. They arrived in Pittsfield via train where they road in wagons up to Greylock. They then dismounted and hiked up the trail with the skiers.

Today the day was overcast and misty, on Holloween the ghosts were incredible. I can't imagine sking in those days. Must have been a hoot.

What a day.
post #2 of 2
A postcard from my site:

Look on the left side of this picture, you can actually see some people who have climbed trees to watch the race.
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