Last Call for Wisp
By Matthew Graham, Guest Columnist

The first day of Spring arrived last Wednesday and I said to my wife, “Hey, let’s go skiing this weekend.”

She looked at me like I was crazy.

It had rained all of the previous weekend; temperatures were in the 60s. All of the local ski resorts had shut down for the season. A friend from work, however, had just bought a vacation house up at Wisp and invited us to go skiing with him on his birthday Saturday and spend the night at his new digs. I checked out Wisp’s web page and saw that most of the slopes remained open and lift tickets were priced at only 20 bucks each day. The Saturday ticket was good from morning to 9 at night.

Still, my wife didn’t want to spend a weekend skiing slush and mud.

“But a cold snap is coming,” I replied. “And I bet they get some lake effect snow.” Again, the look.

Well, damned if I wasn’t right. The cold front that came through Thursday night brought six inches of fresh powder to Wisp and it remained cold as frick all day Friday and into Saturday.

We drove up Saturday morning and were both surprised that the drive took less than 3 hours from Takoma Park, MD, including one pit stop. We were even more surprised to see snow along the sides of the highway and in the farm fields as we drove closer to the resort. We met our friend Chris at about noon, picked up our lift tickets and hit the slopes.

It was our first time skiing at Wisp and we had no clue as to the layout of the mountain. Chris, even though he had just bought a place there, hadn’t skied the mountain in years. But we blew off getting a trail map and figured we’d learn the mountain by skiing it. On the front face, we rode the lift to the top and tried the blue trail Deer Run. The snow was actually packed powder and not slush mixed death cookies topped by a fine layer of real snow. What a treat for the end of March. And no lift lines or crowds on any of the trails.

We moved onto two expert trails: Squirrel Cage and The Face. Now that’s a steep slope -; short but steep! After several runs on these slopes, we explored the East face expert slopes, Main Street and Highland Pass. Here, the sun had cooked the snow into slush. After a few runs, our out-of-shape ski legs begged us to return to the other side of the mountain. And by 3:00, our stomachs growled from skipping lunch (a Power Bar in the car doesn’t really qualify as lunch).

After grabbing a slice of Pizza inside the lodge, I switched over to my ski boards and my wife, Karen, lent her boards to Chris while she continued on skis. We spent the rest of the day teaching Chris how to spin on the boards on the blue and green trails. By twilight, he could do a few spins in a row. As the lights came on and the sun set, hunger again beckoned and we called it a day.

With warmer temperatures forecast for Sunday, we hit the East slopes first thing the next morning. They had already started to get slushy. But the wet snow didn’t grab or stick to our skis and we stayed there until almost 11:00 a.m. We returned to the main side of the mountain until lunch and then Karen and I switched over to the boards.

The lift ticket was good until 5:00 p.m. But Karen needed to stop by her office by 7:00 p.m., so we finished up early at 3:30 and sadly departed our brief return to Winter. But now that we have a free place to stay and we know the drive is so short, we’ll be back.

Wisp is open for just one more weekend, until March 31. Even without a free place to stay, it’s an easy drive from .C. The 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. lift ticket on Saturday makes it worthwhile for a day trip. And you can’t beat a 20-dollar lift ticket.

My wife might think I’m crazy, but it looks like another cold front is coming through at the end of the week too.

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