Since I was in Connecticut over the Thanksgiving weekend, I skiied Hunter (or Huntah as the Noo Yawkahs call it) on Saturday before heading South. For November skiing, the conditions and terrain options were outstanding. I know that Snowshoe had significant terrain open this weekend, the main difference was that Hunter had plenty of advanced terrain with 1,200 to 1,600 foot vertical. It was comparable to Snowshoe having Cupp Run open. To avoid the lower mountain crowds, I stayed on the upper mountain. I exclusively skiied two combo loops; the first, Upper K-27 to East-Side Drive to The Milkway; the second, Belt-Parkway to Way-Out. Upper K-27 had newly-blown snow which produced some nice moguls. It's headwall was comparable in pitch/length to the Liberty/Roundtop headwall. East-Side drive was very similar to Lower Route 66 at Blue Knob; it was slighty wider and less steep, but was a lot longer than Rte 66. The Milkway was a nice open groomer. Unfortunately, the Belt-Parkway was similar to it's New York City counterpart - the Hunter version was more crowded but the New York version had more bumps! Once past that brief madness, Way-Out was definitely worth it. It reminded me of a narrower version of Cupp Run with some very nice drop-offs and turns. The snow on Way-Out was firm but only one or two spots were icy - that made for some nice GS turns.
There were other upper mountain trails open, but either the crowds or terrain made those trails less appealing. I heard that the lower mountain crowds were horrible all day. By skiing the "side" lifts, I was able to get 16 runs (each probably 1.2K of vertical) in under 4 hours - more than enough for the first day of the season. Not sure if the the mid-season weekend crowds at Hunter would let me get that much skiing in.
This was the first time I've ever skiied before Christmas, much less at Thanksgiving time. Let's hope this winter keeps up like it's started. It would sure be nice to take a short drive and ski Liberty or Whitetail in December.
Travel note: Hunter's brochure advertises 5 hours travel time to Baltimore and 6 to DC. This is surprisingly realistic under good conditions (i.e., not snowing or non-heinous traffic). I made the return trip to Kensington, MD in 7 hours under the horrible Thanksgiving Saturday traffic. Through a bad route decision, I spent over half an hour at a toll booth entering the New Jersey Turnpike (nothing like having to wait to spend your money). The I-95 traffic in Maryland was the typical Thanksgiving weekend stop and go. 6 hours to/from DC seems attainable for a normal weekend.
[This message has been edited by JohnL (edited 11-27-2000).]