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Ben Flanagan

Special Correspondent

 

Cabin fever: irritability, listlessness, and similar symptoms resulting from long confinement or isolation indoors during the winter. No need to worry Holliston High School students, there is a treatment.  One of the best ways to get through winter is by taking advantage of the plethora of recreational opportunities both in and out of school.

For New Englanders, winter brings frigid temperatures but also a beautiful landscape.  January is historically the coldest month with an average low temperature of 15°F and only an average high of 37°F.  The average snowfall for Holliston is 50 inches or just over four feet. To the dismay of some, the Old Farmer’s Almanac predicted a winter that is “much colder than normal, with near normal precipitation.” They precipitation, however, has been anything but normal. Students know that winter in Massachusetts means lots of snowy and cold days, so many decide to take advantage of them.

Winter school sports receive a high degree of participation.  Between 300 and 325 HHS students play a winter sport according to athletic director Mr. Craig Najarian.   Seven varsity teams are offered, all of which only cost $200 for the season.  Winter is the second most participated in season after the Fall sport season.  If students do not mind the cold, they can play hockey, or they can remain active in the warmth of the HHS fieldhouse with basketball, wrestling, or indoor track.

Outside of school, students also visit the nearly fifteen ski and snowboard locations in Massachusetts.  Within an hour’s drive there are three different sized mountains, allowing students of all abilities to ski comfortably.  Ski Ward, which is a small mountain for beginners and those trying the slopes for the first time, is located only thirty minutes away.  The next level up is Nashoba Valley Ski Area, which offers more diverse trails for intermediate and beginner skiers and snowboarders.  Finally, there is Wachusett Mountain which is one of the bigger mountains in Massachusetts.  This mountain has 22 trails and has everything from a magic carpet for beginners to double black diamond trails to test experienced skiers and boarders.

For many skiers and boarders, it is only the price of a lift ticket that limits their time on the slopes. There are no ticket deals for individual high school students and the average day pass costs between $45 to $60.  Night skiing and boarding is less expensive, but only about ten dollars fewer than the day pass price. Skiers and boarders may love the wind through their hair, but their wallets feel the pinch.  However, there is hope. The Holliston Ski and Snowboard Club, which is not a school sponsored event, is a six week ski and snowboard program that travels to Wachusett Mountain on Sunday evenings.  This is the best deal around with the price starting at $225, meaning each night of skiing and boarding costs $38 for a lift ticket and transportation.

There are also free and local winter activities that do not require extended commitment. The many ponds and lakes in the area offer free places to skate and play hockey.  If the weather has been cold enough, you will see scores of adults and youths skating out on Weston Pond.

HHS senior and Weston Pond resident, Nathaniel Bagge says the Pond is skateable from mid-December to as late as Valentine’s Day.  “On nice weekends there can be fifty to sixty people playing in hockey tournaments” Bagge describes “and there is sometimes a fire pit with food.”  For pond hockey, only skates, a stick, and gloves are needed.

Senior Dan Hendrickson, an avid pond hockey player, learned how to skate in 9th grade playing on Weston Pond. Hendrickson says “anyone can play pond puck as long as they can stand on skates”.  The hockey games are not super competitive with only bragging rights on the line and is compared to the competitiveness of backyard football by both Hendrickson and Bagge.  The social aspect of Weston Pond is also an attraction and Hendrickson describes it as “a community builder”.  Some benefits of skating on a pond versus a rink are there is no skating costs and skaters are not dependent on the schedule of free skate which can be limited during hockey season.

Other free winter activities include sledding, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing.  In Holliston, popular sledding locations are the Pinecrest driving range hill and the conservation land behind Gorwin Drive.  One of the best trails for cross country skiing and snowshoeing in the area is the Upper Charles Rail Trail which has been developed from downtown Holliston through Milford.  This trail has been improved to a stone dust or paved surface, which when covered in snow, creates a wide, flat, and safe trail for winter recreation.  Pinecrest is another good location for skiing and snowshoeing, just make sure you stay off the greens.

With months of little sunlight and bad weather, winter can create irritability in nearly everyone.  Hendrickson says “by the end of January he is tired of winter” and there are still two more months in the season.

Going outside and staying active definitely helps ease symptoms, while “staying optimistic” says Bagge can prevent cabin fever.

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