Great conditions created tons of fun at Whitetail on February 26, 2005. I always enjoy my visits to the beautiful resort so close to the Washington area, in Mercersburg, Pa. This Saturday was one of the best days I remembered. Conditions were fabulous! There is really something to be said about spending time in a good area that you know well. I have more confidence on trails I know, even if conditions make them a bit different each time.
Since our visit, the area has been blessed with some natural snow falls. So Whitetail along with its sister areas - Liberty and Roundtop - is operating at 100% capacity. The other areas in our region are also roaring in like a lion in this, their expected final month of the season.
Saturday was crowded, of course, but worth the visit. The crowds moved along well. It is important that the Whitetail Express High Speed Quad slows down when it is being loaded - it cuts down on accidents and injuries, especially in the crowded conditions. The Experts Choice Quad moves a bit faster, and you can get nicked if you are not able to move in quickly enough to load properly. Still, the loading staff is efficient and attentive, and work to keep you safe. This is important - I have seen people get caught and actually break their legs in loading and unloading accidents.
Once on the chair, it was better to move to the Expert side of the mountain as fast as you could, if you could manage those trails. All the intermediate trials were excellent, but there was the risk of collision. Fortunately, the snow was universally soft, with no visible ice. There were a few hints of rocks and branches, but only if you got too close to the sides of the trails.
On the front side, we had several good runs on Homerun and Angel Drop. Unless you are hitting the terrain park, it is best to avoid Angel Drop; chose another way down. Race training was also in progress, but that was well-organized and did not interfere. I even tried a timed run myself - the slalom course was better groomed and less chopped up than the other trails, so was easier to manage. Wild horses could not convince me to reveal my time in print!
On the expert side, Bold Decision was the best decision to make! Although it is listed as double diamond, it was groomed and smooth. Fast, easy, and a joy to take. I missed the huge moguls of past years, but just couldn’t get enough of the trail. Farside, a single diamond, was also groomed and fast, but with a lot more people. This year the bumps went to Exhibition - the only trail not leveled by snowcats. Those were big moguls. I picked my way down - no style at all - and decided once was enough. There were a fair amount of skiers on Exhibition, but not too many snowboarders when I was there. Guess we all decided it was nicer to cruise that day.
Whitetail often has programs for athletes with special needs, as many resorts in the region do. Saturday was the Deaf Ski and Snowboard Day. There were reduced rate packages, including equipment. And, a very nice feature - lessons with Whitetail instructors who sign. Such programs, which include adaptive skiing programs, open the beautiful winter mountains to all who want to enjoy them. A growing number of ski areas also feature programs for the service members who have tragically lost limbs while serving overseas.
The warm, sunny, spring air brings out the fun spirit in any resort area. Sunday featured the Wild and Wacky Cardboard Derby. In it, creative people attempted to slide down the Tubing area. They could design contraptions made of cardboard, tape, and glue. No metal fasteners were allowed. Helmets were wisely required. A good idea - while the people made it down intact, their vehicles will not live to see another season.
With luck, there are another 3 or 4 good weeks of snow in the local areas (maybe more, if we are extremely lucky). I don’t know where the season went so quickly, but a short season is better than none at all. Remember, take a half day or ski in the evenings, if you can sneak off from work or school. You owe it to yourself - by mid-April, you might have to travel a lot further to do the same thing. And, some areas are not in as good a shape as ours. In vast areas of the West, and even Canada, slopes had to close because of rain and warm weather (and then there were the other areas we visited, with too much snow!). Right now, it appears to be just right in our region. Grab the golden ring while you can!
When she wasn't skiing, Connie Lawn covered the White House as a reporter since 1968.
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