It is not often in the south that we have an opportunity to ski. A more likely ski destination is the mountains of Colorado. However, through the miracles of modern snowmaking, the North Carolina High Country has risen in stature in recent years. Appalachian Ski Mountain, Sugar Mountain and Beech Mountain all offer respectable ski experiences and boast especially nice ski conditions after a significant snowfall like we had last Thursday evening. And while I have spent many a day taking advantage of the one of the best gravity sports in the history of man, I also relish the opportunity for more solitude and a connection with nature.
There are more ways than downhill skiing to enjoy the wonderful winter environment we call home. When the snow is right, the forest and mountains of our region can become accessible on snowshoe’s and cross country ski’s. This past Saturday, I took advantage of the winter conditions and made an inaugural trip up the parkway. I started my trek at the Holloway Road overpass on the Parkway which is about five miles west of Blowing Rock. My goal was to ski all the way to the Lincove Viaduct, and while I did not reach my goal, I did reach one of the highest points on the parkway in our region at nearly 4,600 feet elevation. Total distance was about 7 miles with a 3.5 mile trek up followed by a gentle 3.5 mile glide back down. The temperature when I started was 19 degrees but the sky was crystal clear and the wind was calm. Eventually I shed my outer wear and was skiing in my shirt. I was surprised that no one had considered skiing this route before but as it was, I broke fresh trail all the way to the top. Another surprise was the amount of animal tracks I encountered. The snow was so disturbed in some areas it made me wonder if animals play in the snow like we do. I saw deer, turkey, rabbits and one fox. Once I reached the top the view was amazing, as it always is when you are driving the Parkway, but I had the pleasure of knowing that I was the only person that would get o enjoy this view on this day.
There are several other places to enjoy showshoe’s and cross country ski’s and include manyof the trails in Moses Cone Park, Mount Mitchell and Roan Mountain just across the border in Tennessee. If you ever want to take advantage of this unique opportunity to get in the unbelievably great outdoors please contact me and we will plan our adventure together.