Kasey Baker offers a Trail Report from Cataloochee December 16th

My Exciting But Dangerous Day at Cataloochee

Having finished my last final exam on Thursday, I was able to go skiing Friday at Cataloochee Ski Resort. And I am glad I did. Although all the snow was manmade, with these unseasonably warm temperatures, any snow is good snow. One small problem that I encountered was that the snow was extra compact at the beginning of the day, which made it hard to move on, as weird as that sounds. Fortunately, this problem abated after a few skiers/boarders ripped up the heavily compacted snow. The temperature was brisk, but not so cold you couldn’t wear a couple of layers of long sleeve tee shirts. The wind was generally mild, but could and did, rip an unsuspecting rider’s lift ticket out of his hand sending him scurrying halfway across the parking lot trying to catch it! For the more “extreme” riders, the lower terrain park (not Alley Cat, but by the snack bar) was well built. The half circle box was set at least 3 feet off the ground and personally, I thought it was a fun ride.

In addition, many hills/bumps in the runs made 5ft+ jumps possible (if you are one who likes such air, like me!), all but one of the six spots were safe to jump. Now, about that one spot that gave me some trouble. It was at the end of the “Rock Island Run”, right under the ski left. Later in the day, this part of the run was icy, with thin coverage, lumpy snow and a medium sized jump! I had remembered to avoid that spot on two previous jumps, but I was so busy impressing giggling girls on my third run that I threw caution to the wind! Coming around the corner, I was doing at least 20mph or more when I aimed myself up for the jump. On the approach, I hit an unexpected patch of ice, sending me at a skewed angle toward the jump. Now, every rider knows this feeling: You hit a jump badly, with to much speed and you are in the air thinking…“Uh-oh that is not good, I sure hope this does not hurt too muc…BAM!” As I hit the ground (on another icy patch), my right ski flew off. As I was trying not to do a front flip, I hit the ground on my side, heard a quick *Snap* and spun around to a stop 25 feet from the jump. As I opened my eyes, I heard the faint sound of many Owwwwhhhs from the passengers on the chair lift above me. Then it hit me how far I had traveled. Fortunately, as I stood up, I concluded that I had not injured ANYTHING, but I did create a “Yard Sale.” My backpack, hat, goggles, poles, ski, glove, and water bottle were strewn across the run. The only things I did not lose were my pants…well; they were still on my body but only held up by my knees.

As I collected my belongings, I checked my backpack and found that my camera was the cause of the *Snap* sound. The front-slide cover snapped off, which will warrant a trip to the camera shop. This fall was unusual for me because I hardly ever fall, but I got lucky this time and managed not hit the snow blower 6ft to my left.

So all in all, it was a good day, a little scary at times. But that was made up by the fact that almost no one was there. As shown in this picture at about 1:30 pm. There where a few more skiers later on; at their busiest, they probably had only a few hundred at max.

So I hope to see you all out there in the next week or two (or maybe not with the Christmas crowd that will be there). I would like to thank Cataloochee and their staff for another wonderful ski session, and the ski patrol for helping me collect my belongings across the run, (hehe).

Have a happy holiday everyone,
Kasey Baker

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Mike Doble
Mike is the Editor and founder of SkiSoutheast.com, SkiNC.com and ResortCams.com. Since September 1996 he has posted more than 13,000 posts, articles, photos and videos promoting all of the ski areas of North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland.Mike is the father of four daughters, is an avid skier and enjoys golf, tennis, kayaking and hiking in the mountains. Winter snowsports and Summer boating on Watauga Lake are among his favorite pastimes.