This ski season got a slow start but Oh My, how things have changed! The big Valentines Day blizzard of last week produced 3-4 inches of dense as lead ice pellets here with a rain crust on top. I was pretty bummed. However, almost immediately the Potomac Highlands of WV got a couple inches of lake effect snow per day and local reports were that the crust was beginning to get covered nicely with new powder. I had planned to go to Blue Knob PA today to ski bumps on Extrovert, a truly great mogul run that I have not skied for about 3 years. BK got 16" out of the blizzard and missed the rain. What to do??? Checked the Whitegrass web page on Sun., Feb. 18 and saw 6-8" of new light powder. This changed my mind and I loaded the car and headed for the Highlands at 3 PM. At 5 in Moorefield, WV I hit a literal wall of white, blowing snow so dense that it was impossible to tell whether one was on the road or not. I slowed to 15 mph, which you might think absurd but you didn't see it. The squall lasted 20 minutes or so and probably dropped 3 inches of snow. Apparently an Alberta Clipper had hung up on the Allegheny Front.
All rooms in the Canaan Valley were sold for the Prez Day weekend several weeks ago and I was lucky to get a reservation at Yokum's Vacationland in Seneca Rocks. This is in the valley of the South Branch (of the Potomac) out of the wind and snow blasted Highlands and 45 minutes away from Whitegrass and the "National Nordic Reserve". I pulled into their lot at 7 very grateful and relieved to be safe for the night. This morning the sky was blue, the roads were clear, and the temp. was 6 deg. Topping out on the mountain between Seneca Rocks and Harman, the cornices were immense I bought a single ride at Canaan Valley ski area, waited until there were no tourists to see me and popped through the 'Rabbit hole" into wonderland. The small trees were transformed into snow mushrooms. The National Nordic had 3 feet of light fluff on one side and 6" on the other. The drifted side is my favorite and I had brought the fat skis. 3 others were there already but I skimmed the edge of the trees in the deep drift to get the best powder. I have never skied any better, east or west, and I have skied a lot of powder. The less steep (South) side of the reserve looked gorgeous but it was not steep enough to move. Likewise the woods on the side. At one point when I stepped out of skis to put on skins, I went in chest deep. The trees on one side had been plastered with windblown snow so that they appeared to be a 30 foot high wall of snow with just a few green boughs sticking through. I hope this description will do, in the rush to pack I forgot the camera. But when it is this good I often forget to take pictures anyway. 6 laps was all I could manage in the deep snow skinning the heavy fat skis. Sometimes you get the plan and the timing just right and it all comes together perfectly.