It was a Super Day at Snowshoe on Superbowl Sunday. My wife, Karen, and I had gone up for the weekend, arriving Saturday afternoon. The plan was to meet up with some friends who had gone up on Friday night. Snowshoe had a weekend special for a slopeside condo for 2 nights with 2 days of lift tickets for $199 per person. We told our friend Tommy and his girlfriend Kelly about this deal. But Tommy is a bit of a procrastinator and missed out on the special and had to settle for 2 nights at the Inn at Snowshoe at the base of the mountain (with 2 days of lift tickets) for $169 per person - still pretty sweet.
Anyway, we checked in and called his cell phone about a million times at the preplanned time of 2:30. I just kept getting his voicemail. So we unpacked and donned our winter gear while still calling. I gave up at 4:00 and we hopped on the shuttle bus to Silver Creek for some night skiing figuring that eventually he’ll get our messages and we’d meet up later. The bus was packed. But it stopped to pick up more passengers a little ways down the road. As I’m staring out the window, I hear Karen yell “Kelly.” I look up and see Tommy all bundled up with just his eyes showing above his face mask. Well damn! It’s a small world after all.
The four of us spent a few hours cruising the slopes and freezing our butts off on the chair lift. The temperature had dropped to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Both Tommy and Kelly are beginners. So Silver Creek was perfect for them with its wide slopes and easy intermediate trails. As it was our first day of skiing for the season, Karen and I didn’t mind the slower pace. By 7:30 p.m. the cold began to win the battle over the polarfleece, thinsulate and nylon and we all returned to our condo for a nightcap.
On Saturday morning I awoke and immediately turned on the Weather Channel. Elkins reported a temperature of -10 degrees at 7 a.m. Uh oh! But Karen clicked away on the remote until she saw the happy face of Joe Stevens on Snowshoe TV. He reported that there was an inversion with the top of the mountain being warmer than the bottom. At 7 a.m. it was 21 degrees at the top of the mountain and 4 degrees at the base. The high was predicted at 31 degrees. Woo hoo! We had decided to spend the morning at the Western Territory and meet up with Tommy and Kelly at 1:00 in the center of Snowshoe Village by the Junction Restaurant.
We hit the slopes at 9:30 and my thermometer read 25 degrees. Clear blue skies and sunshine greeted us and the expert area lay covered in perfect powder. Well, except for lower section of the Shay’s Revenge trail, which was its usual combination of ice and moguls. So we avoided it and raced down Cupp Run and Upper Shay’s to lower Cupp. Most of the younger crowd that’s often tearing up these slopes must have been out too late partying. There was no lift line to speak of. We could have stayed on these two slopes all day and never have gotten bored.
Unfortunately we got hungry: plus we had a play date. We joined up again with our friends and explored some of the green slopes that I had never tried. (The blue slopes at the main section of Snowshoe were a little too steep for Tommy and Kelly.) It was surprisingly fun to just meander down these trails, relax and enjoy the view. I felt like I was out west doing some spring skiing in the soft powder and warm sunshine. And as it was Superbowl Sunday, most everyone had cleared out of the resort by lunchtime. The lift lines were small or just plain empty. By the end of the day, Karen thought that T and K were up for a run down the intermediate trail “J-Hook” over by the Widowmaker lift. We followed the long Hootenanny beginner trail across to the other side of the mountain and up the lift. While Karen escorted T and K down J-Hook, I took a couple of runs down the expert run Widowmaker. It’s not as steep or as long as Cupp Run, which was designed by Olympics gold medalist Jean-Claude Killy. But Widowmaker is still tough for anyone but upper intermediates. With the sun behind the mountain, the slope had started to ice up on the left side. I just stayed to the right and avoided the skiers wiping out (sometimes spectacularly!) to my side.
Tommy and Kelly wanted to leave before sunset to more easily negotiate the mountain roads. So we quit 15 minutes prior to the lifts shutting down at 4:30 and grabbed a cup of coffee at Stellar Coffee, near the corner of our condo building, before we bade them farewell.
The next day (Monday) was colder and cloudier. We checked out of our room and picked up lift tickets. (Snowshoe has a deal if you have a Safeway Savings Card. Buy one weekday lift ticket and get one free.) Fresh grooming marks are always a good way to start the day. The snow was packed powder. And being a weekday, there weren’t any crowds. But without the sunshine, it was only a very good day, not a Super Day. I prefer the Super Days.
Matthew Graham is a skier as well as a hang glider and paraglider pilot, SCUBA diver, cavern diver, equestrian, polo player, sailor, hiker, biker, rock climber, paddler, and skater. He's also yoga teacher and certified personal trainer and has dabbled in just about every other sport, even stunt car driving and bull riding! He has written for the Washington Post, Washingtonian Magazine, USA Weekend Magazine, Hooked on the Outdoors, Richmond Magazine, Chesapeake Life Magazine, Metro Sports, American Fitness, Blue Ridge Outdoors, Recreation News and numerous other outdoor and travel publications.
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