With estimates of crowds coming to DC in the millions, my family and I, along with a few diehard ski friends, decided to take an alternative option to this past weekend’s Inaugural activities and spend the long weekend in far Western Maryland near Deep Creek lake. Thanks to the generosity of ski patrol buddy, Tom F., we were able to camp out at his family’s cabin on the south side of the lake. That put us within 30 minutes of nearby Wisp Ski Resort.
After getting a late start Saturday morning, the group decided meeting at the cabin for lunch and doing some snowshoeing would be the best bet. Sure enough, after crossing the Eastern Continental Divide, we saw increasing signs of winter precipitation. As we entered Garrett County, it was obvious why the area was one of our favorite retreats - abundant natural snow!
Thanks to the extended holiday weekend, we had two full days of skiing ahead of us and the group took full advantage. Unfortunately, the day started out with bad news when Tom got the call from his office that he was needed back for a work emergency. Tossing us the keys to the cabin, he had no choice but to bail out on the rest of the trip. I hope his employer realizes and appreciates what a dedicated employee they have working for them!
After Tom’s departure, we headed over to Wisp and started out over on the far end of the resort on trails like Odin’s Chute and Main Street and worked our way over from there. Despite the evidence of past snowfall, the trails were a bit scraped down in spots. Still, the coverage was impressive and by skiing/riding on the sides, we were able to find plenty of snow. We also made quite the crew with one snowboarder, one telemark skier, two alpiners and my seven year old son doing his best to avoid turning wherever possible. Despite the projected record crowds in DC, we shared much of Sunday with a large crowd of fellow snowsports enthusiasts as the slopes were crowded! Not even the Pittsburgh/Baltimore game later in the evening thinned the crowds. As result, we were ready to call it quits at the end of the day.
Monday turned about to be the better of the two days thanks to a nearly all night snowfall that left about 6 inches of snow on the ground. With a smaller crew heading out that day, we were able to move quickly through various parts of the resort. Throughout the morning, snow kept falling leaving what appeared to be close to a foot of snow over much of the area. Or at least it seemed that much to Lisa B. when she slid a bit farther than planned on Wisp’s famed run simply called “the Face.”
The other bonus to the abundant snowfall was that it appeared to keep away the crowds. While there were certainly others around, our time in lift lines was limited to a few minutes here or there. Towards the end of the day, with a full two days of skiing and riding under our belts, we finished our tour of Wisp at the newest part of the area skiing run and run over the blue and black trails on the far right side of the resort.
All too quickly, our weekend was coming to a close. Not wanting to leave too early (and getting caught in the downtown DC traffic), my family and I ended up spending the morning trying out Wisp’s new Mountain Coaster - an alpine slide-type ride where customers can sit in specially built sleds that fit onto tracks that tour through one of the wooded trails at Wisp. After lunch and clean up of the cabin (and the obligatory watching of C-SPAN coverage of portions of the Inauguration), we all headed home. Thanks to a great group of friends, my family and I were able to enjoy the Inaugural weekend with limited crowds and lots of snow!
James "Jim" Chen" is a member of the National Ski Patrol and Assistant Patrol Director at Liberty Mountain ski area in Carroll Valley, Pennsylvania. Jim has been a member of the Liberty Patrol since the 1995-1996 season. Off the slopes, Jim is an attorney in Washington, D.C. where he counsels clients on transportation, innovation, safety and environmental areas.
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