West Virginia Nordic Ski Trip

By Margot Chalfant, Land Preservation Coordinator

It’s 8 a.m. on Thursday, February 26 and the Delaware Nature Society’s four-day cross-country ski trip is ready for take-off!  Our party is bee-lining to West Virginia’s High Alleghenies and the White Grass Nordic Ski Lodge for a full adventure.  We weren’t wasting time…rain was predicted to arrive by nightfall, which would certainly wash away the snow and put a damper on our skiing plans.  But how little faith I had. 

By 2 p.m. we were skiing on farmed snow.  Yup, I said farmed.  Not by growing, but rather by trapping windblown snow into pockets formed by a continuous ribbon of snow fence laid along the foot of a mountain and wound throughout an adjacent meadow.  Ingenious!  Captured snow is packed and managed (farmed) keeping a solid base for skiing.  Once I got over my purest ideologies of only cross-country skiing in a totally snow bound landscape (rooted in 3-years of skiing/ living in Colorado), the magic of mountain scenery, crisp clean air, and the familiar rhythm of a kick-and-glide ski stride settled in and I was hooked.

Young skier traverses snow from trails.
Young skier traverses snow from trails.

 

White Grass is not your typical cross country ski lodge…it’s more like a community center.  Both a full-service ski shop with rentals, lessons, guided tours, and retail, it is also a home-style restaurant serving lunch and two dinner shifts.  Reservations are required.  The lodge is surrounded by an extensive network of groomed trails and telemark glades within the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge.  Even with the poor snow conditions and rain, our band found adventure in snowfields high in the mountains.  We hiked up Seneca Rocks and Bald Knob mountains, strolled through Smoke Hole Caverns, and soaked up the thunder of Blackwater, Muddy Creek and Swallow Falls.

At night we ate delicious and wholesome meals accompanied by live mountain music at the White Grass and the (legendary) Purple Fiddle restaurants.  Back at our cabins and beside the open fire we sipped exotic wines, nibbled cheese, swapped stories, and played games.

Frost nipped vegetation atop Bald Knob with extended view of Canaan Valley.
Frost nipped vegetation atop Bald Knob with extended view of Canaan Valley.

 

As we scurried home Sunday to beat the BIG snow storm scheduled to arrive that night, (it figures that Delaware got real snow), I reflected on the weekend.  What makes a community is a sense of welcome that comes from those comfortable in their skin, with real passion for living and a genuine care for others.  As we departed White Grass, manager Chip Chase reached out for my hand said how pleased he was to have met me.  What impressed me is he called me by my name.  What touched me is I had never told him, but he had cared enough to find out who I was- now that’s community!

Leave a Reply