Quote of the Day “Is that banjo music I hear?” –ubiquitous Appalachian T-shirt slogan
Our mantra for weeks was “this is NOT a ski trip.” It was a trip to a mutually accessible area to spend the holidays with family. But there DID happen to be a ski area where we were going. And we did want to be somewhere our niece could go to ski school. And we all brought our ski gear, which we used every day. So ok, it was a ski trip. A hillbilly ski trip (thanks to FlyinJ for coining that term).
Beech Mountain, North Carolina, claims to be the highest mountain and the highest town in the eastern United States, and who am I to argue with them? It is a beautiful place, with plenty of affordable lodging options. In fact, the condo we rented afforded one of the most sweeping vistas of any place I’ve ever stayed. It is a family friendly place with plenty of fun things to do. It’s a place I’d love to visit again in the summer, for as a ski destination, its the pits.
We were aware when the trip was planned that the likelihood of natural snow was minimal, but we expected the ski operation to make snow whenever possible on their vast terrain encompassing some ten trails. They did make snow, unfortunately they only saw fit to coat about three runs, which were in truth, one and a half. Hillbilly skiing is riding your lift to the top of the mountain, skiing down, then riding back up to make the same run again. And again. And again. That is not to say the skiing was monotonous. Each time down the hill, a new obstacle would present itself, making each day much more challenging than I would have guessed. You see, hillbilly skiing also involves constantly appearing patches of grass, which make skis do funny things when they come in contact. When skis do funny things, hillbillies do funny things. There were also ice patches and a few spots covered with plenty of hard, icy man-made snow and/or slush. These patches often would turn from smooth to bumpy or even into small cliffs as the day wore on. Since everybody aimed for the snow, so as to avoid doing funny things in the grass, all of the snow from whole swaths of mountain were kicked into little piles. And sometimes bigger piles. These piles of snow, grass and ice also provide opportunities for levity amongst the hillbillies. And finally, hillbilly skiing is a public service. Because you know where all those carneys go when the county fair isn’t on the move? You guessed it. They put on their flannel shirts and camouflage coats, dangle a cigarette out of the side of their lip and stand at Beech Mountain ski lifts blank staring for all they are worth. I hated the skiing at Beech so much I went back three times to do it all over again. Because after all, a bad day skiing beats a good day doing most anything else.
In between the hours when I had such fun being a bad skier at a bad ski mountain, TB got to spend a lot of time with the girls and FlyinJ. Those times are the ones I’ll be remembering most as the years pass by, I have no doubt. And that’s the reason we went there in the first place. It definitely wasn’t so we could ski.