The trails were wide and white and glistened in the sun. The morning was cold at first, but it became quite warm in the afternoon. All the trails and parks were open and fully covered with machine made, packed powder snow. The snow fields were a marked contrast to the brown woods and fields nearby. Once again, I give a heartfelt thanks to those who invented snow making. There would not be a snow sports industry without them.
There were three of us in our group and we covered most of the trails. They were terrific! Of course it was busy, as could be expected during the three-day Presidents Day weekend holiday. But we knew what to expect. Whitetail handled the crowds well. Everyone seemed to be smiling, and strangers warmly greeted each other with "hellos" in many different languages or accents. It was like a scene from a travel movie, but it is not often you find such a perfect day in the East.
Whitetail is near Mercersburg, Penn. It is about a two hour drive from the Washington and Baltimore Metropolitan areas, but skiers and snowboarders come from all over. It is part of the Snow Time family, and its lift tickets are interchangeable with those from Liberty and Roundtop. It is best to buy before the season, at their discount rates. There will be a winter sport season, even without natural snow. I still cannot feel the difference!
When we arrived at Whitetail, we sought out General Manager Don MacAskill. He told us, "we have the best conditions in years and have made tons of snow... we have kept 100 percent of the terrain open most of the season." He said they hope to stay open well into the month of March. I asked him about future plans, and he said "we are looking forward to making significant improvements in the next couple of years to enhance the overall guest experience. Projects on the drawing board are to add more automated fan gun technology to our snowmaking arsenal, construction of a new restaurant facility, and expansion of our children's offerings." Don MacAskill also said their "expansion is based on guest feedback and their objective is to improve the delivery of the guest experience." It is too bad they cannot also do the skiing for me!
We also paid a visit to the new Adaptive ski tent, which looks like a giant Yurt. It is warm and solid, but will give way to a new building in a year. Inside we met the adaptive executive director, Bill Dietrich, and his wife, Stacey Schmader. Small groups of adaptive skiers and wounded warriors relaxed, talked, ate, and rested before returning to the slopes. The Whitetail program is called "Two Top Mountain Adaptive Sports Foundation," a chapter of Disabled Sports USA. They have a variety of winter and summer programs. Bill says they have given about 200 adaptive lessons this winter and expect to give many more. Volunteers and contributions are always welcome, especially in this time of harsh budget cuts. If we all make this a team effort, more people can come out and savor the joy of nature!