Snow Day Skiing

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Snow day selfie. It was cold, ok?

A snowstorm, my mom’s ability to attract new jobs like cats to a radiator, and the relative flexibility of my work vacation schedule all added up to a semi-unplanned mid-week jaunt to a ski resort in western VA this week.

I grumble each year about the lack of downhill ski interest and ability amongst my friends, so when my mom announced that she was trekking off to a ski resort to do a job interview and I was welcome to tag along, I jumped at the chance. It just so happened that her interview was timed for Wednesday, just after the giant snow storm/polar vortex/wind chillpocalypse, which made for some excellent fresh snow on the slopes and an utter lack of guilt in taking off work, since almost no one was doing anything productive this week.

The resort is about a three hour drive from DC up in the Appalachians west of Charlottesville. We left VA at around 3pm when the snow was coming down steadily but it still wasn’t too terrible. The roads were relatively empty but the slow speed added about an hour to drive. We really only encountered difficulty going up the mountain–partly because mom is a terrible snow & night driver, partly the roads really were quite snowy. Turns out we made it just in time because about a half hour after we got there, the snow picked up and the winds started howling.

A snow blackness

The view from our room. For definitions of ‘view’. There’s a chair lift out there about 50ft away, I swear.

The next morning it was still bitter cold, but the sun was shining and the winds had died down. Mom bundled up and went off to her 8 hour interview and I went to get myself some skis. I had until about 2pm to ski before I had to clean and up and get ready for the drive home & I wanted to take advantage of the early start. Turns out I needed have worried about crowds. The slopes weren’t empty, but there wasn’t a single line for the chair lifts all day.

Bright and sunshiny snow day

A fairly accurate representation of the “crowds” and the lovely sunshine. Not pictured: polar vortex coldness.

I haven’t been skiing for a few years, so I wasn’t too worried about the modest size of the resort’s slopes. Which was good because they were very, very modest. But nice! Only, okay. I was on short rental skis and am not a terribly fast skier, but most of the runs only lasted 3-5 minutes. That’s short even by East Coast standards.

They were making snow while we skied, but otherwise the conditions weren’t too terrible. Not much powder at all, but only patches of ice. My most powdery moment was when I hopped off the groomed slope and into the chair lift area in order to avoid getting smacked by the snow makers’ snow. It didn’t work; instead I was on a tilted patch in rather deep powder with a bunch of underbrush sticking out & still getting smacked by wet snow. I longed for goggles, my one bit of missing ski equipment.

You can see all my random loops around the mountain below, courtesy of my Garmin’s “other” sport mode:

Skiing-at-wintergreen

By 2pm, I’d skied all the open runs multiple times and it was a perfect time to quit. The last time I skied was right when I’d started triathlon in early 2010, and I still remember being sore for days (and wearing terrible boots; I was much more vigilant about my boot selection this time). This time, not so much soreness. My hips & glutes hurt and the sides of my knees complained after a few hours, but my quads were surprisingly silent about the whole affair. My shins & lower legs, too, had very little to say. Apparently I have gained some fitness in these past 4 years! If only there were mountains closer to DC…I could pass off skiing several times a week for a strength training routine. Alas. Gym for me.

Anyway, after I hopped off the hills, I cleaned up at the resort’s nice fitness facility, and mom & I wrapped up the visit with a late lunch before driving back to DC. A perfect snow day!

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