Our Cup Runneth over on Cupp Run at Snowshoe. But, Saturday, January 21, 2006 was not the best day for Shay’s Revenge. We all know we cannot get perfect weather skiing, and this has been an especially tough year. But, as my husband Charles always says, “a bad day skiing is better than a good day working.” On Saturday, we faced wind, rain, and fog. But, the two double black diamonds of the Western Territory had a firm base and, so far, rain has not destroyed it. Colder weather is expected soon, and the legendary tons of snow - natural and manmade - will return to Snowshoe. [Editor’s note: over the past few days and since Connie’s visit, Snowshoe has received over a foot of fresh powder.]
I have been waiting for three years to return to Cupp Run, and it did not disappoint. The run is listed as one and a half miles, challenging, and is groomed as well as it can be, given the conditions. The other Western Territory run, Shay’s Revenge, was too icy and hard packed for me, but others took it on with no problem. In good conditions, it is not that hard - similar to the double diamonds at Whitetail and Liberty, but longer. There were no crowds and no lift lines in the Western Territory and the lifts moved efficiently. Riding the lift up for the fourth time, Charles and I saw three beautiful deer grazing beneath us. They were pleased, no doubt, that all the terrain was not covered with snow, and that bow hunting from the chair is prohibited.
Cruising down the Western Territory reminded me of my early years skiing in New England. It was hard packed, windy, and icy. But, it was doable. And, it is these challenges that make Eastern skiers some of the best in the world. The view was magnificent! At times, the mists and rain would blow away, exposing the sky and forest. Skiing felt like sailing a boat on a challenging sea. The night before, during the five hour drive from Washington, we were blessed by a magnificent red sunset over the mountains. In short, we had a terrific time!
After a few hours on the Western Territory, we crossed the foggy highway into the main ski area. We were very grateful the drivers were slow, cautious, and stopped for skiers walking across. By that time, the fog had thickened, and I don’t know where we went. I think we were on the well-traveled Powder Monkey, Stemwinder, and Whiffletree. Then we struggled to get off the lift at the top, without being blown backwards. We were very grateful to be provided lodging in the Village at the new, convenient Allegheny Springs Lodge. As my husband says, “there’s nothing like drying your clothes in front of a roaring fire like our ancestors. Just flip a switch and get one of those Snowshoe lodging trademark gas fireplaces that don’t leave me smelling like a hickory daiquiri doc.” We dried our clothes in front of the fire, and in the nearby Sauna at the health club. Very handy. By the way, those gas fireplaces are so romantic!
As always, there are many serious sides to snowsports. The weekend we were there, West Virginians were suffering through another mine disaster. The snow and tourism industry is booming in West Virginia, and provides jobs for many who may not want to go down to the mines. Our hosts - Marketing Director Brian Rowe, and Communications Manager Andrea Smith, told us many of the families work part time in the mines, and other times on the slopes. In addition to employing hundreds of West Virginians, Snowshoe also has seasonal employment for students from the Southern Hemisphere who want to work at a ski area, earn some money, and travel a bit in this country.
At night, we enjoyed a sumptuous Mexican Dinner, and then visited the new family play areas (including the European bungee jump). They were a bit rough after a Mexican meal! Also checked out the nightclub, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and hot tubs. There is also a new Chapel in Snowshoe. A lot to do, in addition to the snowsports.
Sunday dawned bright, sunny, and cold. The distant mountains at sunrise were magnificent. Charles and I went to Silver Creek, a few miles away, and part of Snowshoe. There were 10 open trails and slopes in terrific shape - fast, hard packed, but well-groomed. They were wide and had a distinctly Western feel. An excellent area for beginners and intermediates. Charles and I had a very significant experience with the large adaptive ski program, called “Challenged Athletes of West Virginia.” It is so important, we will devote a separate story to it in the future. These athletes are so skilled, and so fast, they beat us down the mountains. There is also a superb blind skier, who also wrestles, swims, and has a 4.0 average in high school. More on all this later.
Just a few words of caution - it is best to take the shuttle bus, if possible, from Snowshoe to Silver Creek. You risk a hefty ticket, if you are not marked for the proper parking area.
Also, always try to arrive at the resorts in day light if you can. It is very hard to keep roads in excellent shape in the harsh winter climate. There were several tales of people hitting huge potholes and side ditches in the dark. We went into one of those deep ditches on our way to the resort. Thank God there were several strong boys from Virginia who stopped and literally lifted our car out. We could have been in real trouble. And, don’t always count on cell phones to call for help - many of the cell phones (including ours) do not work there. They don’t call it “Wild, Wonderful West Virginia” for nothing!
If you leave early, you will also see the incredible scenery. The drive gets faster each year, as more parts of the new superhighway are completed. So, in short, we had a terrific weekend, and hope to return soon. But, take precautions when you embark on such a trip - you are not making a casual drive to the suburbs!
When she wasn't skiing, Connie Lawn covered the White House as a reporter since 1968.