On Sun. eve. as the media talked obsessively about the certainty of a big snow for DC I asked myself was there any really good reason why I should go to work on Mon.? Tried hard and couldn't think of even one. After all, if the schools and the gov't closed DC would be a ghost town. Even a liberal leave policy would do. I packed the car and headed for Whitegrass. It was already 8:30 PM so I decided to take the long but safest (in my experience) way, I-68 to 219 S. There is a good cheap motel at 68 & 219 and I checked in after 11. Morning saw light snow falling and an inch on the ground. Driving south toward Oakland on 219 it intensified rapidly and the temp. held steady at 21 F. No DC area fizzle here; it would be the real deal. I drove slowly; plenty of test dummies passed and I saw none in the ditches.
I got to Whitegrass at 10:30. Chip and the gang were in high spirits but they had work to do so I headed out alone to Canaan Valley ski area, bought a single ride and took the trip out to what Chip calls the "National Nordic Reserve." The storm was a nor'easter and the wind was blowing strongly east to west, opposite to the common pattern for Canaan Valley snows. I took one run on the west facing slope and it was perfect. It was drifted to 6" to several feet deep; the skis never touched bottom and the turns were sublime. Skinned back up and tried an east facing slope. It wasn't ready yet. The wind had scoured it down to 2-4" of new powder over an old breakable crust from last Thurs's snow. I went back to the west facing slope and invoked the "Never leave good snow to find good snow" rule, and skied 6 more runs, about as much as my legs could handle. It's a 200 vertical foot, 15 turn shot. So much fun! It is always difficult under such conditions to concede that fatigue is rapidly gaining on you.
I finally quit, whipped for the day at 3:30, or so I thought. However Chip had finished work and he and his friend (now mine) Jeff were eager to go out close to the Whitegrass base and ski a few short low angle powder runs that should be perfect with an east wind. How could I refuse? So out we went, did 4 more runs, most memorably 2 on the "Barn Run", a personal favorite that runs through a working mature sugar maple grove with some nice rolls and drops ending at a big red barn. Chip took pictures and I made the cover of today's report;http://www.whitegrass.com/report.html
If today is no longer Tues. Mar. 1, the picture is here;http://www.whitegrass.com/graphics/report/28feb11lg.jpg
and a companion here;http://www.whitegrass.com/graphics/report/28feb8.jpg
Really whipped now I confessed to a desire to stay and ski on Tues. hoping that the weather would be bad enough in DC so that nobody would notice my absence from work. Chip and Laurie very kindly offered me the hospitality of a stay at their beautiful house right near Whitegrass. Ah, how wonderful to have friends on a powder day. I accepted.
This morning it was more and better. It squalled all day sometimes intensely with slack periods when the sun almost poked through. The wind was now from the west, indicating a "back side" wraparound with lake effect snow. (Weather geeks will know.) The temp. stayed at 18-20 and the flakes were as big as dimes. They were so delicate and fluffy that they shattered when impacting a gloved hand. They formed a surface as soft as down. Setting the initial skin track up was hard work in the deep powder. Once set, it was easy to skin up the same track again. Hard to imagine but it was an improvement of the perfection of Monday. In almost 20 years I have never experienced West Virginia powder like this. It was Utah like.
I reluctantly left at 4:00. It was 18 degrees and snowing sideways. The wind was strong and steady and occasionally gusted up so that the world would turn a swirling white for 30 seconds or so. After 20 miles of driving and loss of 1000 ft. of altitude it was just flurries. Well over a foot is on the ground now at 4000 ft. and it is supposed to snow every day for the rest of this week.