My family and I went skiing at Whitetail on Friday, January 22, 2000. Whitetail had about 8” of natural snow on the ground along the roads near the ski area with many much deeper snow drifts. We arrived about 4 p.m. and I purchased the 4 hour flex tickets for all of us. I like the flex ticket idea, as it allowed us to ski for an hour more in the daylight, instead of waiting until the start of the 5 p.m. night skiing session.
It was very cold, around 15 degrees, with gusting winds. I wasn’t sure how my 4 kids would do, ages 7 to 15. It had been a while since I had skied in the Mid-Atlantic under conditions where you didn’t want to have any exposed flesh, but we hung in there until almost 10 p.m. and had quite a lot of hardy fun. It was not too crowded, virtually no lift lines and perhaps because it was so cold no one ever really examined our flex tickets, even after the 4 hour mark. Maybe there’s a method to the management’s madness, because the longer we stayed, the more we spent on food and drinks while making frequent pit stops in the lodge to warm up.
We skied a variety of trails open for night skiing and rode all of the chairlifts except the Expert’s Choice, which is not open at night time. I believe under day conditions 16 of their 17 trails would have been open, less the expert trail Exhibition. [Editor’s Note: Currently, Whitetail’s open trail count stands at 15, with experts Exhibition and Far Side being the only trails that remain to be opened.]
The snow guns were on full blast in the easier Snow Park area. We took quite a few frosty rides up the Easy Rider Quad there. At 15 degrees the guns were making pure powder and it made for a great skiing surface. We also took a number of rides up the Whitetail Express quad to the top of the ski area (935’ vertical). The surfaces on blue trails such as Angel Drop, Limelight and Snow Dancer were pretty good, but a little icy in a few steeper stretches. There wasn’t much wind on this main side of the ski area and the high-speed quad was much more comfortable than the slow, frosty ride up the Easy Rider Quad.
Although the cold temperatures were not the most pleasant, we did have a crowd free night at Whitetail and a good time. My wife kept the kids stoked up with french fries and hot chocolate and it was great to see them have so much fun under some truly wintry conditions. A little more character building than another Friday night in front of the boob tube. Whitetail is less than 1.5 hours from the D.C. beltway and the route there is all interstate highways until the last 5 or 10 miles.
P.S.: I went x-country skiing on the Falls Church (WO&D) Bike Trail on Saturday, January 23. I went for one hour and got in a pretty good workout. I saw two other skiers. This was my first time skiing on this trail and with only about 5” of snow cover I knew conditions would be far from optimum, but I gave it a try since I didn’t get to x-country ski at all last year. I had to ski on a few inches of hard pack snow on top of the asphalt bike trail most of the time and that is not an ideal surface. It’s hard on your poles and your skis cut through to the blacktop and gravel once in a while. Next time I will head for a more grassy area, perhaps along the Virginia side of the Potomac River near Arlington Cemetery?
Husband, father and retired civilian employee of the Department of Navy, Jim Kenney is a D.C. area native and has been skiing recreationally since 1967. Jim's ski reporting garnered the 2009 West Virginia Division of Tourism's Stars of the Industry Award for Best Web/Internet/E-Magazine Article.
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