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Mascoma Lake skating group has big plans for winter

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    Ben Prime, of the Nordic Skater, squints against the snow kicked up by his plow as he clears skating trails Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, on Mascoma Lake in Enfield, N.H., for the Mascoma Lake Skating Association after nearly a foot of snow fell on the lake on Tuesday. "Sun and a little bit of warmth should help resurface the ice," said Mary Reynolds, a co-chair of the association. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News file photograph — James M. Patterson

  • Mascoma Lake Skating Association co-chairs Joan Holcombe, right, and Mary Reynolds, both of Enfield, test out the ice freshly exposed after being plowed in Enfield, N.H., Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news file photograph — James M. Patterson

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 12/15/2021 9:13:56 PM
Modified: 12/15/2021 9:13:22 PM

ENFIELD — After ice skating trails plowed on Mascoma Lake proved popular last winter, the operation is set to expand this winter once the cold sets in.

Mary Reynolds and Joan Holcombe formed the Mascoma Lake Skating Association, coordinated the setup of those trails and oversaw skating throughout the winter in early 2021. Reynolds said weekends got busy, and they’d sometimes have nearly 300 people show up to skate on the lake.

This year, the group is planning additional trails and other activities.

“We’re going to look to be plowing rink areas down there for pond hockey and figure skating, and maintaining trails that go all the way up to the end. We’re going to be plowing a parking area. We worked with the town to get permission to maintain (it). There’s another parking area above the beach lot there.” Reynolds said. “We’re very committed to developing a whole community for supporting winter recreation.”

Reynolds and Holcombe said parking was an issue last year when the lake got busy, and because state officials don’t want street parking on Route 4A.

Both women felt a lot of pride seeing a booming lake skating scene at Mascoma Lake.

“We had such enthusiasm,” Holcombe said. “There were people out there every single day. There were people out there who hadn’t skated since they were a kid, or all kinds of kids coming out. We had people coming and playing hockey for the first time in years and years. It was nothing but joy.”

They learned a lot from their first year of the project. They weren’t expecting quite so much wind as they saw on the lake last year. Reynolds said they’d plow the trail in the morning sometimes only for it to be covered again by noon.

One change for this year they’re hoping addresses that issue is plowing trails on both sides of Shaker Bridge on Main Street. Last year, the trails were only on the south side of the bridge.

They also got new equipment over the summer — a snowblower and a power brush for the plow that Reynolds hopes will lead to smoother trails that are easier to maintain.

Ben Prime, owner of Nordic Skater in Newbury, N.H., handled the plowing last year and is involved again this year. The group obtained 501(c)(3) nonprofit status over the summer, which brought a few other people into the fold to create a small board.

Because of the warm fall, the lake hasn’t begun to ice up yet. The group began plowing the trails on Jan. 7 last winter. Reynolds said the timeline for this season is dependent on when the lake freezes with thick-enough ice to be safe. She said the plow that Prime uses requires 6 inches of ice.

The activities on the lake will continue to be free to the public this winter. The Skating Association raised money to pay for the plowing and the equipment, along with various other expenses. Holcombe said much of that money came from donations and that it didn’t require a hardcore fundraising effort.

“We’ve had a few small grants, local grants, which we are very happy with. But lots of people were giving small amounts and a little bit larger amounts, without a lot of pushing,” Holcombe said. “People just said, ‘Yeah, of course, we want to see this happen,’ and would give. We were very pleased with the amount that we received. And it gave us a good start for this coming year.”

Seth Tow can be reached at stow@vnews.com.


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