Given the fresh snow from earlier in the week and the mid-winter temps since then, I figured that conditions would still be good this weekend, so Jason (who'd had a great day at Hunter on Friday) and I decided to head up to Plattekill for a few hours of turns. But along the way, I convinced him to join me on a quick reconnaissance mission to the one that got away in the Catskills ski scene: Bobcat.
Over the years, I've received a number of e-mails from people who'd stumbled upon the feature article I posted in 2004 and wanted to share their memories about a ski area that continued to mean a lot to them.
I hadn't been back to Bobcat since its final weekend of operations exactly eight years ago, so I decided that it was time for me to see what the hill now looks like and, if there was enough snow, to bootpack up the 1,050 vertical feet and do a run for old time's sake.
The old sign is still there, albeit a bit more faded.
Part of Bobcat's allure is the farm-heavy ambiance that surrounds it.
Visiting a lost ski area, particularly one that you'd skied before, is always a sad exercise -- you can practically feel the ski ghosts walking by you on their way to lodge schlepping 205 mm skis and rear-entry boots. Trails are clearly beginning to grow in, but seemed from a distance to be skiable.
Oddly enough, the deck that looks out over the hill was rebuilt a couple years ago; however, it appears that no one got around to staining it.
Several vintage Tucker Sno Cats are still there, waiting to be mobilized.
We quickly geared up at the car. I finished first and started skating uphill when a man came out of a mobile home about 75 yards away and asked if we'd noticed the Posted signs. "Which signs?" I asked disingenuously. "Those yellow ones right behind you," he replied.
He mentioned that denying skiers the chance to earn their turns was the most unpleasant part of caretaking the property and apologized for being the bearer of bad tidings. He told us that he grew up skiing Bobcat from a young age and understood why people wanted to ski it again; however, a few years earlier, a woman drove an ATV to the top of the mountain, crashed and broke her leg, and needed a Medevac off the summit, so the property owners didn't want to deal with additional legal exposure.
We got back in the car and continued on to Plattekill about 20 minutes away. Jason had predicted that we'd be looking at nice early-spring conditions, about 40 degrees and sunny, but it was cloudy and in the mid-20s at our 9:30 arrival and stayed that way until early afternoon. Still, conditions were quite good: grippy hardpack on the groomers with nice soft ungroomed snow alongside. The trees felt a bit too variable for our taste, so we stuck to the cut trails and had a great time.
In what appeared to be an odd thing to do at the end of March, employees were dragging snowmaking hoses downhill the entire day.
Finally, around 1 pm, the sun came out, which warmed things up a bit, so Jason's forecast panned out.
In short, another fine day at Plattekill. Props to Laszlo and his team for the pleasant conditions. Here's a testimonial from a recent convert that's on display in the lower office:
I made my annual trek to Platty today. Frozen, but movable snow in the morning. Based on the forecast, I was expecting it to soften up sooner than it actually did, but still no complaints. Run of the day was Blockbuster. And I'm still savoring the roast pork sandwich I had for lunch upstairs.