First Trax

As you guys know, NORMALLY I do my morning blog with a lean towards simply giving you guys an update that you can really find yourself by clicking around the website. This morning I'm going to invite you guys to click over to the SNOW REPORT for the latest and greatest news, including all of the SNOW TOTALS that fell in the last 24 hours

There are only a couple of ways that a person can say that the ski resorts are looking nearly in mid-season form on the terrain that they have open. Most resorts are running at about 50-70% open terrain. The terrain that is open is AWESOME to say the least across the entire region. POWDER conditions are present. In many cases it is NATURAL POWDER and in all other cases it is MANMADE POWDER.

Again – check the snow report at:

FOR TODAY…and each subsequent time this season that I am blessed to ski at our area's varied and unique ski resorts, I will be posting my own Trip Report such as those that are posted over on the messageboard. Remember that you can always READ and VIEW PHOTOS from our reader's trips at:

We'd love to see more of you post yours. You don't have to be shredding pro to post so tell us about your trip.


I am posting this one as a guide of sorts for those of you who might be looking to take YOUR first ski trip and to let you know that everything doesn't always go the way you thought they might. Sometimes that's half the fun!

Thanks tons to Ed Galford and the ski patrol for taking us out early!

On Sunday morning I and several of my crew were blessed to be provided the opportunity to make some first tracks here at Snowshoe. Under normal circumstances that is a GREAT thing. On THIS particular day that was an AWESOME THING. After God only knows HOW MUCH snow had fallen up here (reports of 7-8" had already fallen as of 6am Sunday) and with it still PUKING SNOW as of 8am, a bunch of us met up with Ken Gaitor, Ed Galford and several of Snowshoe's finest ski patrollers to do some first tracks.

We headed down the mountain at about 8:20 or so to "hog the mountain" all to ourselves. We had just been advised that Skip Jack had knee deep powder and it could be even deeper along the edges.

We took off and headed down for what was the deepest powder that I've skied since I skied deep powder here two seasons ago. Prior to that it had been Beaver Creek in Colorado since I'd seen this kind of knee-to-hip-deep freshies.

After a thigh-burning run I got on the Ballhooter lift with three of Snowshoe's ski patrol and we were not more than 30 feet away from the lift station when the lift stopped. My first thought was, "Who the heck in my group would have had troubles causing the lift to stop?"

Several of us chilled (literally) at the bottom awaiting the chance to get going again.

That wasn't the case. The SNOWSTORM had caused the power to stop – cutting short our first tracks. That was at about 8:30am. One by one the ski patrollers dropped to the snow, followed shortly after by me. It was only a six foot drop or so to the deep powder awaiting us. I trekked back to the lift house and we waited for about ten minutes until Snowshoe's crack team got the emergency power going to the Ballhooter lift and got it going – taking those who were further up on the lift to the top – followed then by us. Ed Galford, Snowshoe's 38-39 year mountain veteran was with me on the ride up and he advised us that there was a county-wide power outage.

Ed and I had lunch scheduled for later in the day, but that had to be rescheduled, postponed or cancelled as this is the time that people like Ed REALLY go to work.

Within minutes of the power outage Snowshoe had already gotten all of us off the mountain and safely (although a little disappointed) at the top of the resort.

That's how things go on the mountain. You have to be a "go with the flow" kind of person. Anything else is not acceptable. I actually overheard a few people in the ski shop actually saying, "I don't like all this snow. We are going to need to start heading back home to make sure we can get out of here!"

My ONLY thought was, "You HAVE GOT to be kidding me!" (Picture John McEnroe during one of his tennis court tirades of a couple of decades ago.)

THIS is WHY we come to the mountains. Those of us who really have this in our blood LIVE for days like this. They don't come often enough for those of us who adore snow and all that comes with it – even the "hardships" that snowlovers call adventure.

(The rest  of this trip report are being posted as they happened..)

It is 10:26am as I am typing the first part of this BLOG and the power is still out all over the entire mountain and presumably beyond. We've already heard from people living 5-6 miles off the mountain about how their power was out. We saw group ski leaders communicating the message to the people that the power may get back online sometime around 11am or noon.

It's hard to get 17 people in a photo but these guys were doing "The Wobble".

Those who can go with the flow will enjoy the hell out of this no-power adventure. I know I will. We've already congregated in a room here at Highland House and are playing Catch Phrase and now having a "dance off".

Who says you can't have fun during a power outage? This young man in the white T happens to be my 295 LB Offensive Lineman for the Wofford Terriers and this boy can dance!

Card games have replaced turns down the mountain and that's okay because from the sound of things once the power comes back on we'll be one of the FEW – percentage-wise – ready to take advantage of the deep snow, that just happens to coincide with some strong winds and fiercely cold temps.

If you wear the proper gear, and have good googles, this is THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE, the kind of day we LIVE FOR. This kind of day will create memories for me that will carry me until THE NEXT time this happens again.


You have to know how to enjoy life no matter what is thrown at you. We're blessed with a crew that have all earned their Masters Degree in dealing with whatever comes our way. Of course, admittedly what the heck is there to complain about? There's NOTHING really to consider a hardship when you have plenty of friends, a warm room full of family and friends, food and a selection of beverages to make any restaurant jealous.

Someone who was walking past our room was just overheard saying, "There's a party going on somewhere closeby!"

Well duh!


I was watching from the balcony of our slopeside room (roughing it huh?) and the Snowshoe Courtesy Patrol were all assembled over by Shavers awaiting that moment that the power comes back on to do their thing.

The Snowshoe Ski and Snowboarding Instructors were doing their thing sans lifts. This was an opportunity to teach their pupils how to climb the hill with their skis on. If you didn't see that the lifts were not running, you wouldn't know that the power was out at the top of Skidder.

Lessons and instruction were happening all over the top of the hill.


I don't know who gets the credit for it among our group, but everytime we show up with this crew it snows, and snows, and snows. That has been the case ever since we got here and the snow continues to bomb the mountain. Of course from what we've been able to pick up via the smoke signals from across the mountain, Canaan Valley, Timberline, Winterplace and Wisp resorts in West Virginia and Maryland are all getting good snowfall.

I can only assume as the smoke signals can't be seen from the North Carolina or Virginia mountains that the snow is falling there as well.

We'll update you later…but for now, I'm going back to the party, or the slopes – which ever is open!


We were playing poker around 12:30pm or so (yea we keep ourselves busy) when the fire alarm went off for the second time since we've been here. The first time was a false alarm. After only looking up briefly from our cards, we continued to play. The alarm continued to blast loudly as we played on. A few minutes later one of the guys asked, "Does anyone else smell smoke?"

You KNOW how this goes, because whether real or imagined – another and then another smelled smoke. The alarms continued to blast on and finally we got up to check things out. After a look out of both sides of the building and witnessing NO SMOKE, NO FIRE PEOPLE, and nobody congregating outside in the village or on the slopes, we returned to our game.

Finally after perhaps 20 minutes of blaring they were turned off.

STAR DATE: 2012-12-30 @ 1:11PM:

The power JUST came back on… JUST AS we were getting ready to head to Elkins for a little bowling and a movie. Within ten minutes it was back off and then we noticed that even though our Highland House power was out, the lifts were turning.

Snowshoe knows where the priorities are!

So we headed out for some runs. Grabhammer and Knot Bumper were amazing AND brutal all at the same time. Bear in mind that it had been BOMBING SNOW all day and those 2' powder stashes were now that and then some.

I did Knot Bumper with my brother-in-law and nephew and the going was great, good, crazy, tough, excillerating, in control (and out of control) all at the same time. On one of those steep & deep rollers I lost it and came to rest some fifteen yards below one of my skis. You have not lived until you climbed in two feet of powder atop one steep slope. I knew I was out of shape. I NOW know what my New Year's resolution is. I don't normally get into resolutions but perhaps that's WHY I need to drop about 30 lbs.  Suffice to say that I was as out of breath as I ever remember being once I made it back onto my skis – ready for a bit more pleasure/torture (take your pick). That was my first fall of the new ski season and it could not have been in better conditions.

I tell newbies all the time that you are really not skiing powder agressively enough if you don't fall once in a while.

After that bit of workout I headed over to Powder Monkey for some tamer turns. At about 2:30pm the lift lines were still pretty short and I'm guessing a lot of people opted to stay in since the lifts were off for the first half of the day.


After a couple of easy, glide runs and not seeing any of the crew I was with, I gathered up my strength (and my breath) and headed back to Ball Hooter and up to the top so that I could try another black diamond – Grabhammer. I figured that it might not be quite as stashed with powder moguls and rollers. Ummm…WRONG!

I'll admit that I did not "fire down" that bad boy but I handled it top to bottom better than I did Knot Bumper (surprisingly) and I still had plenty of breath to get in one more run to Ballhooter before the crowds started to get a little heavier.

In this case "heavier" is a relative word because the singles line was only ten minutes whereas on the day before that would have been three times longer.

Translation: A lot of people stayed off the slopes.

I met a guy on the elevator who told me that he didn't even know the lifts were running. I didn't consider the fact that the ELEVATOR was working. However when I got to my unit the power was OFF. Ten minutes later it was back on, so I'm GUESSING that had been an issue all afternoon.

Upon checking the current status online I saw that Snowshoe had posted the following message:

"The power company has been working diligently to restore our power, and we are officially back up and running. The lifts are spinning and we will be extending hours for the Snowshoe Basin area until 5pm. Silver Creek and the Coca-Cola Tube Park will resume normal operations until 9pm. Thank you for your patience as we worked to resolve this problem. There is still plenty of fresh powder out there – so get out and have some fun.

We were blanketed with 7" of new fluffy light snow overnight, and the snow is still falling. It is predicted to break tonight with more on the way for Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. We've expanded an additional 20 acres this morning with Camp 99, Upper Ballhooter and Knot Bumper ungroomed for some powder runs. There will be a delayed opening on Knot Bumper and Upper Ballhooter."

The funny thing is I can honestly say that I had one of the more enjoyable days on and off the mountain that I've experienced. Fun is where you look for it. As I'm typing this update – the power went BACK OFF (2:35-2:55pm) so checking around at the other mountain communities will have to wait.

…unless I can find that indian smoke signals book again…


I'll post some video on Monday of the snow, the fun and the craziness that took place. Until then I should share that the fun didn't stop until 9pm or so when we decided to watch "The Raven" together. Good grief THAT was crazier than our day on and off the mountain.

Again check the snow report for all of the good information including trail openings and snow totals from ALL of the resorts and be sure to check back for videos.

Email me your thoughts and reactions at: [email protected]

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