Powder Day

Road trip Anyone?

Story and pictures by David McCue

All forecasts indicate an epic storm is blowing into the North Carolina High Country. Have you loaded up?  Because skiers and riders, it’s time to hit the road.

It’s a powder expedition

There is uncertainty associated with this pattern but only in total snowfall and timing; as in, will it dump 20 inches or only ten, will it last two days or three, will there be enough bread and milk left for civilization to survive much less advance?  But the question we should all ask now is will we be there or not?  Because friends, this is a big one.  Will it be a storm about which you say, “that December day right here in North Carolina, was one of my best ever.”  Or perhaps, you will be left to admit to future generations, “well, you know, I meant to go but I was kind of busy and besides I heard the roads would be bad.”   And yes, the roads may be difficult, but so are years of regret.  Any storm forecasting a foot or more for our region should bury all quibbles and excuses.

I dusted off my digital archive for a taste of what we can expect. Let’s say you arrive on Saturday afternoon, here is what you can expect to find, based on previous storms I’ve chased.

Sunday will be twice that deep.  Deep, dry powder is always a treat but there is something especially sweet about experiencing it here in the Southeast where a manmade base is the norm.  These are opportunities not to be squandered.  Other commentators have pointed out that you only need an inch under your skis to slide, and that is true. But it is also a fact that the experience improves exponentially with every few inches of fresh untracked snow. 1 squared is still 1, while 12 squared is 144; thus, it is one-hundred and forty-four times more fun to ride on a foot of fresh powder.  Trust me on this, my sister is a math major and she checked the numbers.  And, if you have never had the experience of tracks being filled in between your rides on the lift; Sunday could be your opportunity.

Freshies at Beech

And even if you wait for the skies to clear come Monday or Tuesday here is another view worth the drive.

Bluebird powder days in our region are unforgettable

So, you may ask: how committed am I to this storm?  I’ll put it this way, I was scheduled to fly to Colorado Monday morning; I am cancelling that trip and heeding the axiom, “never leave powder to find powder.” There will be plenty more storm cycles out West this season but some years we never see a day like we can expect this Sunday.  Although, I have a feeling this may be a season with many refills; I’m not taking chances by missing this one.

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David McCue
David McCue grew up in Amarillo, Texas and annoyed the natives of New Mexico and Colorado by skiing on their mountains throughout his childhood and teens. He put down his neon 200cm GS skis for nearly twenty years until the fateful day he took his own young sons for a half day to Cataloochee. He has never looked back, except when alone and deep in the trees. A carpenter by trade, the uncertainties of the housing market have further honed David’s snow skills. He now resides with his patient wife on the banks of the Haw River in central North Carolina and annoys the natives of West Virginia by skiing on their mountains.