Winter has finally arrived in the region, and Canaan Valley is completely white and covered with snow. Let’s hope it stays that way until May! It snowed most of the day at resort, making for excellent skiing top to bottom on three major thoroughfares: White Lightning, The Drop, and Salamander.
The 2.5-mile Salamander trail, the longest beginner trail in the region, offered beginners, intermediates, and even a few tired experts a relatively benign way down Herz Mountain, which by the end of the day was getting bumpy from the combined effects of snowmaking and new natural snow. I skied Sally twice to rest my legs and enjoyed every minute of it. It was fairly well-groomed with very small speed bump-size mounds of snow to add some challenge.
The Drop, however, was a different story. The resort recently blew big mounds of snow on the trail but did not groom, so skiers must negotiate Volkswagen sized “whales” to get down the trail. The good news is that the whales now make the trail a true double black. The bad news is that I saw at least two people walking down the trail. This is not a trail for intermediates, but experts will love it, especially with soft snow on the top to carve up. Experts, especially telemark skiers, also are beginning to sample some of Timberline’s epic off-piste. For now, it’s mostly in the woods near the main trails, but if the resort gets any more natural snow later in the week, the situation could improve rapidly.
White Lightning also earned its expert rating today. By the end of the day, boulder-sized moguls had formed on the slope from manmade and natural snow. I suspect Timberline will groom the trail as soon as weather permits, but don’t count on The Drop being “paved” anytime soon. As for future, the snowmaking team is still blowing snow on White Lightning, Lower Heaven (closed this weekend), and Salamander to shore up the base. It has also begun blowing on Twister and Wintersett. I predict more trail openings by next weekend. Crowds are minimal here at Timberline so I encourage people to come up while the conditions are good and the weather, cold.
Authors’s Addendum: I skied Timberline on 22 January on an almost empty mountain. Salamander was well-groomed. White Lightning opened at 10:00 and was also groomed. Conditions consisted of wet, machined groomed snow on-piste and wet snow off-piste (side of trail).
John Sherwood is a columnist for DCSki. When he's not hiking, biking, or skiing, he works as an author of books on military history.