Santa gave us a splendid present - fantastic weather at Liberty for Christmas Eve. It was warm (in the forties), sunny, and the trails were well groomed and in splendid condition. My husband Charles and I whizzed down the best trails again and again - especially the Ultras, and Eastwind on the back, and Dipsy Doodle and Blue Streak in the front. Not all of the trails were open, but 12 were, serviced by 5 chairlifts. There were few lines, no waiting, and it was terrific! The snow was soft and forgiving, and the moguls were just forming. Timing was everything; the day before was reportedly mobbed, as was last weekend - the combination of great weather, conditions, and a $19 dollar special.
The terrain parks were well built up and in terrific shape. It is simply magic to watch the younger set take to those jumps and features on Adventure Ally and Vertigo Park. If I come back in another life, I want to be a young snowboarder, flying, twisting, and somersaulting through the air and over the snow. Until then, I will have to watch from the chairlift and cheer them on!
Everybody was friendly, and Christmas music filled the air. It helped my skiing enormously to sing Christmas carols while dancing down. And then, I met Santa! Toward the bottom of Dipsy Doodle, Santa was giving out candy canes. She was joined by another person sweltering in a costume - one of the Liberty mascots, Bucky Beaver. Santa has an incredible story to tell, and wants to share it with us. Her real name is Connie Schutte, and she says up front that she has multiple sclerosis, or MS. Connie says she is a product of one of the programs we care so much about - adaptive skiing. The instructors there taught her to ski, and now she teaches others - including those with or without disabilities. She wants to spread the word that there is always room for more adaptive skiers and instructors at Liberty and its sister mountains. Bucky, by the way, is her husband, and he is very proud of his wife - as he should be.
After a few glorious hours skiing, we tore ourselves away to check out the new Boulder Ridge Snow Tubing at Liberty. What a great adventure! It is easy driving distance from the main parking lots. There is a also a shuttle bus from the ski school area parking lot. But, you have to remove your ski boots first, and change back to regular shoes or boots.
I love tubing - especially when it is fast and icy. After 3:30, when we started, it was very fast. The young people who spin you around or push you off, or try to catch you at the bottom, say tubers reach speeds of between 35 and 50 mph!
As usual, I twirled around, and went airborne several times as I hurtled to the bottom. I learned an important lesson - make certain your bladder and stomach are empty before you commit yourself to the big rubber tube and the fast lanes! The first time this year, I was in absolute terror. The second time I was in better control, because I kept my eyes closed. I got better the last few times but, at the end, went through the mud barrier and hit the fence. You can’t get hurt - it is well-padded. But, it gets your attention.
My husband Charles went faster than I did, because he lies down on the tube, and goes head first. On the first run, he hit one of the “catchers” at the bottom, and knocked him down like a bowling pin. After that, he used his feet to drag him and slow himself at the bottom, sparing the lives of these young people working to earn an honest living!
For me, I sit in the tube and hang on tight. Head-first is too dramatic for me. If you sit, you must keep your rear from dragging on the snow. Boy, will that ever burn!
The new Boulder Ridge is a beautiful area, with a modern building that has ample amenities and can be used for parties and group functions. Everything has the sensual smell of new wood. Outside, there is a new lift to get tubers up the mountain. It is a long conveyor belt, which runs through a building which looks like a long, modern covered bridge. The system is fast, efficient, and very high tech. When you get on the belt, it is best to step firmly, lean forward a bit, and spread your legs for balance. You drag the tube behind you. A bit tricky at first, but easy to get the hang of.
In short, make snow tubing a must-visit at Liberty, and all the areas that have them. I defy you to tube without laughing a lot, especially at the end! Definitely a fun sport, fast, exciting, a bit less expensive than skiing, and you don’t need your own equipment. But, it is important (I think) to wear you ski helmet and thick gloves when you tube - give yourself protection if you somehow manage to exit the tube (which is nearly impossible to do, and not recommended!)
Once again, I was reminded how lucky we are to have excellent ski areas, so close to home. It is amazing to see how many high powered, important “movers and shakers” from Washington use the areas, especially Liberty and Whitetail, as their “undisclosed locations!” These potentates can mix and mingle with the young snowboarders, and have just as good a time. Politics and national rivalries are cast aside, and there is one amazing fraternity of the snow!
When she wasn't skiing, Connie Lawn covered the White House as a reporter since 1968.