As I stepped into the Explorer to make the final leg of my two day journey towards skiing, I was ecstatic. The drive from the cabin through Boone to Appalachian Ski Mountain wasn’t very long, and the scenery was great. As I arrived at the mountain, I first noticed the ice skating rink which seemed out of place - in front of the resort. I glanced up the 930 foot vertical and in a little while, I knew I would be up there.
The process of purchasing lift tickets and rentals at Appalachian is very convenient. With only a twenty foot walk from the ticket booth to the rental desk, the friendly staff quickly gets lift tickets and rentals to you. Within thirty minutes of arriving, I was on the lift up to the top. My first runs were on Orchard Run, allowing my legs to regain their skills on the snow. This was my first time on ski boards, and as a recent article on DCSki warned, it took a few runs to get used to them. Eventually, they became very fun and rather easy. I spent the rest of the evening on Thin slice, Big Appal, and Hard Core.
Hard Core is rather narrow and tree lined, but was loaded with fresh pow. As it merges with Thin Slice, there is a jump on the right side. Big Appal is very wide, with a nice drop at the top and several small jumps near the base. Thin slice isn’t too bad, the only problem is that skiers on the lift above like to clap their skis and drop snow on top of you. If you have any skiing ability what so ever, stay away from the greens at Appalachian. In my opinion, watching paint dry is more fun. The blues, however, are great. Their terrain park is only open to people who own their own boards, so if you rent like me, you can’t go on it. Overall, the mountain is very nice for night skiing. Great food, ski shops, and atmosphere make it the perfect place to go night skiing and relax.
Saturday was spent shopping in Boone. The Mast general store is an outfitter that has been in the area for over 100 years. It has clothing, tools, food, and a giant candy store in the annex. I think the original store is on the national register of historic places, and it is a warm and cozy shop. Lunch was at Macado’s, an awesome sandwich shop that is always filled with college people. I had a turkey sandwich and it was very good. The afternoon was spent walking around the main drag, and then returning to the cabin for steak.
We woke up early on Sunday to light flurries. The drive through the mountains to Banner Elk was very windy and slow, but offered excellent views. As we arrived at Beech, I noticed the snow starting to accumulate. The lift tickets and rentals at Beech took about an hour or so to get, partly because everything is spread out and that I have never visited Beech before. I grabbed my skis from the demo center and headed straight for White Lightning. The day was excellent, with only several idiots and ice patches getting in my way. Early afternoon was marked by near white out conditions, providing me with great wipe out conditions on occasion. I learned to not follow the ski patrol straight down the mountain when you can’t see your skis.
Beech Mountain was covered in fresh powder by two o’ clock, erasing all evidence of the ice earlier in the morning. One of the only things I hate about NC skiing is that ice is almost always covering the mountain. This day, I got lucky. I spent the last part of the day in the terrain park. Even though they aren’t snowboards, ski boards are a blast. I enjoyed watching the snowboard instructors both falling and landing, and the superb aerials they offered to us.
After being kept in the lodge because of a snowy parking lot until nearly 6:30, the drive home was clear and smooth. I had few complaints, already planning my trip to Snowshoe in March. For a Floridian, any skiing is good. However, the fresh pow and small crowds made my weekend in North Carolina one of the most enjoyable skiing experiences I have ever had in the state.
Jarrett Baker is a columnist for DCSki. When not skiing on water or snow, Jarrett is a photographer with the Highlands County News-Sun, and a freshman at the University of Florida. You may visit Jarrett's web site here.
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