Perfect Skiing at Sugar Mountain in February
Skiing in the deep South has always taken a back seat to other, less snow challenged locales, but occasionally, the snow gods send a gift to those barren slopes, allowing them to run with the big boys every once in a while. Friday, February 27th, was one of those days at North Carolina’s premier ski mountain, known as just “Sugar” to those of us who return there again and again, hoping against hope that the next trip will be the magical one. Normally, we encounter deafening jet engine matching snowmaking machines, spewing precious inches of white gold from their nozzles, gold that turns too often to ice, making movement even more difficult.
Friday was different. Almost a foot of new snow had fallen during a particularly snowy week, and it was all the grooming machines could do to keep up with the onslaught. The snow jets had ceased their relentless attack weeks ago, and what I found on this particular day was perfection.
The temperature that had recently seen below zero numbers had climbed into the mid 30’s, and the wind that can swirl down these narrow mountain valleys was nowhere to be found. A bright Sun moved overhead, being always at our backs in the afternoon. Visibility was ideal.
Being a weekday, the throngs who normally descend upon this place from Charlotte, Greensboro, and Atlanta, were still a day away. The lines at the lifts were manageable.
Wide expanses of carefully groomed slopes were almost empty.
The summit of Sugar Mountain, ahead, towering over a mile high, is the highest ski mountain east of the Rockies. With two double chairs carrying skiers to the very top, the experience that awaited was almost to cool to think about.
Unlimited cruising on vast snow fields was the order of the day.
Late afternoon, as the Sun dropped away, so did the temperatures, falling into the upper teens. Staying warm became an issue, but skiing into the night under bright lights was the reward for hanging around. Perfect is the best word to describe this rare day.