October 31, après-ski : Desperation for Beer and food other than Peanut Butter drive
While some were desperately seeking cigarettes, after our amazing day we were desperately seeking beer after our epic day, plus we didn’t want to eat peanut butter for a third meal in one day. That would be somewhat of a challenge, everything was closed and road between towns were somewhat interesting. Stores, restaurants, gas stations, everything shut and without power. There was one mini-mart store that was open in the town of Davis, but they decided to closed at 4pm instead 5pm. We arrived at 4:36pm. This would lead us on an interesting journey for beer.
Road between towns were challenging. Down limbs and wires, challenging conditions to drive with trees hanging over the road in an eerie fog. We found nothing open until Parsons, the third large village. We finally managed to find a store, lucky Matt’s phone had a light. The store was empty except for chips, candy, beef jerky and beer. That’s what we took and drove back to the Resort. The recommended road according to the phone was taking Route 72 which was the most direct route from Parsons to Canaan Valley. After exiting Hendrick, there was a permanent sign warning “hazardous driving” and a few minutes later after driving under and “over” some trees, we decided to find a place to turn around and head back on Highway 219.
In the meantime Maggots ML242 and Moeghoul had done their first run at Timberline and went to check the après-ski at White Grass and meet up with three Vermont guys that did a direct trip for turns and head back. The consensus became clear, checkout White Grass instead of skiing Canaan Valley normal alpine area.
At the hotel and we found out about the food in the lounge and the bar was open for mostly employees and the few guests. Turns out we drove 2 hours for nothing, however we got to see some of West Virginia. Ended up eating an amazing buffet diner considering the price it was costing us, drinking beer and playing headlamp pool.
Thursday November 1 : White Grass
The room was getting colder, temperature was now down to 6c, however the sleeping bag under the covers made it a toasty night. After an excellent breakfast prepared by the hotel staff, we were ready to go. Just the meals received were worth more than the price of the room. Thank you very much, it was extremely well appreciated. Better than another peanut butter breakfast. One resort staff member was concerned about freezing pipes, Matt jokingly talked about job security. I tried to reassure him to say and it going to need to be much colder for them to freeze. As we were steeping out the main building and back to pack our stuff, three more maggots from Vermont landed at the resort that morning while others we’re heading straight at White Grass. The plan wasn’t to ski much today as Matt and I had were planning to be back at work the following day. Yesterday Matt was ready to go home, being totally satisfied by our day at Timberline. Planning for this trip, we had heard about White Grass and it came which isn’t an alpine ski area with lifts, but is a cross-country and backcountry ski area. The place was highly recommended and we wanted to check it out. A few more inches greeted us on the car. The storm had dumped over 3 feet of snow in the valley which includes White Grass.
After a long narrow snow-covered driveway, we reached a tiny parking lot with a few cars. One small building and inside was a trip back in time. Rental equipment, lunch room, kitchen: it reminder me of a rustic sugar shack setting with ski gear. The rural setting and scenery of the place reminded me parts of Vermont or rural Quebec. We got a few suggestions by possible routes from the owner. Some of the group were looking to do a car drop and I volunteered to drive to the drop-off point. Meanwhile some left for their first southern tracks, if not their first tracks of the 2012-13 season.
We opted not to skin all the way to the highest elevation situated at 4300′ which made it an 1100ft vertical gain. Trying to be responsible, we stayed on the lower slopes as I was feeling yesterday, thinking of the drive later today and work the next day. As we were skinning the trio maggots that had gotten a head start were coming down. There was a full contingent of maggots at White Grass, owner Chip was totally stoked of seeing some many people driving from Vermont, New York, Massachusetts and Ontario to ski West Virginia. Some locals and non-so locals showed up (Pennsylvania, Washington DC) for snowshoeing and cross-country skiers. The place was open, but not charging and just accepting donations. Let’s just say that they were a few narrow skis next to some real wide skis. The skin track was pretty wide as it was well-traveled.
At the top of the closer knoll, we spread out into the gladded forest. The snow wasn’t like the previous day silk, but wasn’t heavy or humid either. The temperature was slightly below freezing, however we were that high and the snow must have been real sweet higher up.
Besides the wide bottom slope that was part of an old ski area served by a rope tow, the ski area is a complex network of cross-country runs through the woods with opened options in the woods for the backcountry skiers. After one short run, I decided to be “responsible” considering the drive back, and call it a day and ski down with Chip; Matt went back up with some maggots. At the bottom I said that “heck,if I was responsible, I would not be in West Virginia skiing” so I decided that it was to go and head back up to milk a few more feet and a few last turns in West Virginia. I guess Chip liked my quote and used it for his Daily Report.
It was too good. I would have loved to have more time and more energy to make a few more runs as I did only 1.5 runs for a tiny 705′ (215m) vertical. Talking about more runs, Jonathan was already at his 5th run. We would ski a total of 8500’ vertical on this day which is pretty amazing considering that White Grass isn’t the steepest of places. It is funny; I had never meet Jonathan, although we had skied in the same areas at roughly the same time over the years, from Kiilington in June back in the 1990s to Mt. Washington and Oregon.
After that run, everyone meet inside for lunch. The wood stove was working, the attitude was no power, we don’t care, we have powder. Chip and a few people helped out with making some food on the stove, at the end of the day there would be some West Virginia Moonshine; unfortunately we were already through Maryland and into Pennsylvania by then.
We took a direct route back north in order to avoided the snowdrift ridge of Route 73, not sure if we saved time, but we got to see a different part of this part of the Appalachians.
We arrived back at Matt’s house at around midnight. I sent an email to my boss saying that I might be coming in the afternoon or not! Matt Chuck2 was trying his best with the little footage we got from his day (he forgot his GoPro for Day 1). We couldn’t have found a more appropriate song for this short clip. It is very representative of the great Frankenstorm adventure and ski day at White Grass. I’ve watched it a few times and get stoked every time, even if I only appeared for something like 15 seconds in this clip.
Friday November 2 : the final drive home
As I drove back to Ontario the following day, I encountered repeating snow squalls as I was driving through the Adirondack. Totally stoked of the days passed as well as the snow that was finally arrived closer to home. Borderguard was a bit surprised when I crossed at lunch and curious about skiing in West Virginia. Much easier crossing than crossing into the US Monday night. Although White Grass it’s not an alpine ski area, I highly recommend anyone to check it out just for the vibe and atmosphere of this place. Don’t just take my word for it, here is what ML242 had to say on TGR about skiing White Grass, the most exciting Cross-Country skiing in the East:
It wasn’t the most epic gnar, but it had the greatest host EVER in Chip Chase and plenty of adventure depending on how far you wanted to go. Not to mention the best tasting home-made moonshine I’ve ever chugged out of a mason jar. I could not have been more stoked on the scene there, it was maggot heaven.
West Virginia, I will remember you…that song from the video is stuck in my head. 😀
Like someone said, almost half of TGR was at White Grass on November 1st, so its not a surprise to see a bunch of various posts and TRs from that day:
Matt’s blog post : Skiing Sandy – Timberline & Whitegrass, West Virginia
Matt Chuck2’s TR/feed on Harvey Road (NewYorkSkiBlog) : Timberline WV Oct 2012: Matt and Pat’s Roadtrip
ML242’s NYSB post : Hurricane Sandy: Front and Back with links for donation to Hurricane victims.
Peter’s FIS post from previous day at WhiteGrass : West By Ullr Virginia
Peter Wadsworth’s Backcountry.com version : The White Lining
Ski The East by Greg Buzulencia (previous day at White Grass): Skiing Superstorm Sandy
TGR Blog by Andrew Orowitz and Dalton Harben: Skiing Hurricane Sandy: 24 Hours Of Appalachian Powder
Thin Cover on TGR ski forum : 24 hours
BushwackerinPA on TGR : Sandy dumps “White Lightnning” in the highlands of West By God Virginia
Jonathan’s pictures : West Virginia
With post #201 on October 27th, ML242 revived the Mid-Atlantic Roll Call Thread on TGR with the first post in that thread in 21 months. The Roll Call took almost 3 years to accumulate 200 posts; an extra 214 posts would be added in one week, all about Sandy and the Frankestorm. Like the NYSB forum post, it’s a great read, play-by-play in excitement and anticipation.