Editor’s Note: Matthew Graham spent the weekend of February 10-12 at Virginia’s Wintergreen Resort, and provides the following firsthand report.
Driving South during the warmest winter ever (in the rain) to go skiing might seem a fool’s errand. But my wife and I weren’t just interested in the skiing at Wintergreen. We wanted to check out their new tubing hill and spend some time in the Wintergarden Spa.
We had originally planned on skiing Sunday night (February 10) upon our arrival. The rain that was supposed to turn into snow, however, stayed as rain. So we went to the spa, soaked in the hot tubs, swam and then baked ourselves in the sauna and steam rooms.
Monday morning greeted us with freezing temps and a sunny sky. We hit the slopes and were surprised that it wasn’t just slush mixed with ice chunks. The snow guns had started running in the middle of the night and the groomers somehow managed to successfully mix the new powder into the existing base. Only 9 trails were open and we skied all of them. Wintergreen was smart enough to open its longer expert trails to provide skiing for all abilities levels. Too often resorts only blanket the beginner and intermediate slopes with man-made snow when the weather fails to cooperate.
By late in the afternoon the expert slopes were getting slushy and we didn’t feel like trekking across the road again to ski the intermediate slopes. (The two main intermediate slopes are across the road from the rest of the mountain and accessed by trails that run under a bridge. These connecting trails had not yet received any attention from the snow making team. Thus, to reach them, you had to take off your skis and slog across the road.) Instead, we headed back to the spa and got the La Stone full body massage. Hot and cold stones are used in a massage that is out of this world. At first, 95 bucks sounds like a lot for a massage. But think about how much you pay for lift tickets!
Afterwards, we just wanted to lie around like slugs. But we took the Plunge at the Plunge Tubing Hill. The awful weather the previous few days made for ideal tubing conditions. The rain and then freezing temps had turned the hill into a sheet of ice. Can you say FAST??? It was more like riding rockets than inner tubes. We were completely out of control, spinning down the runs and bouncing off the sides of the walls of snow dividing each of the lanes. What a blast!!!
Freezing temps returned in the evening and another layer of powder was added to the existing base by morning, making for great conditions. We skied the expert runs till lunch and then put on our ski boards and spent the afternoon on the intermediate runs. We arrived just in time for the connecting trails to open. I expect that they’ll have a couple of more runs open by the weekend. But if not, the existing runs offer something for everyone… and there’s always the spa and the tubing park.
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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