Spring weather brings out dedicated skiers
If you don’t think skiing and tailgating go together, think again. For these ski lovers, the start of spring means afternoons spent either on the slopes or in the parking lot grilling hot dogs. Front row, from left, are Philip Alix, of Kunkletown; Susan Edelman, of Nazareth; and Kathy Kirk, of Barto. Back row, from left, are Tom Loughery, of Jim Thorpe; Diane Chew, of New Hope; Tom Smith, of Easton; Brad Konstas, of Mahoning; Will Watson, of Ashfield; Greg Landis, of Barto; and Rodney Rettstadt, of Sumneytown. DANIELLE DERRICKSON/TIMES NEWS
Rodney Rettstadt, of Sumneytown, mans the grill during a tailgate at the Blue Mountain Resort. DANIELLE DERRICKSON/TIMES NEWS
It was 60 degrees and sunny Thursday, and while the changing weather may seem like a siren song for outdoor activities such as hiking, rafting or biking, it also means you might want to make your way to the ski slopes.
“In the springtime, the snow gets soft, so it’s very forgiving,” said Joe Forte, Blue Mountain Learning Center director. “It’s a great time to take a couple runs, grab a beer, sit out on the patio, soak in the sunlight.
“Most people consider spring skiing the best. It’s their favorite time of year to ski.”
But not everyone knows to take advantage of the opportunity.
“Unfortunately, a lot of lesser-experienced skiers don’t realize how good it actually is,” Forte said. “The common misconception is that a 50- or 60-degree day is a bad day to ski. That’s not true.”
If you’re not convinced, ask someone like Brian Bower.
Though Bower, of Bethlehem, had work Thursday afternoon, he spent his morning in the mountains.
“I ski here all the time,” Bower said. “This time of year it’s all melting, so if you’re a skier that skis often like us, (you) still love it.”
At the bottom of the mountain, a group of 10 sat in chairs and out of the trunks of two adjacent cars, laughing, grilling and having a few drinks. You would think it was a scene straight out of summer vacation — that is, until you notice the snow-covered mountain behind them.
“We love to ski,” Diane Chew, of New Hope, said. “If there is snow, we will ski. If they are open, we will ski. I don’t care what it’s like.”
“It’s counterintuitive,” Tom Loughery, of Jim Thorpe, added. “Some of the best conditions are late winter when all the snow’s been built up over the whole winter, and it’s freezing at night but it’s warm in the day.”
All seasoned skiers themselves, each person in the group had their own way of characterizing the snow created by warming weather. One person called it “hero snow.” Another compared it to frosting.
The way they described the feeling of rushing down soft, snowy slopes on the other hand, was the same.
“In the winter you hear the scrapes, but this is just like silent running,” Chew said. “I don’t know many other sports that feel like skiing does.”
“It’s freedom that’s only known on the ski slopes,” Brad Konstas, of Mahoning, said on her tail.
Blue Mountain Ski Resort’s end-of-season date is slated for March 31, but the slopes aren’t closing for lack of snow. Forte said the resort “almost never close(s) due to lack of snow.” It’s because people stop coming.
Chew, who would probably ski through the summer if she was able, thinks that should change.
“I tell people, ‘come on out, do something different,’ ” Chew said. “You know how to bike. You know how hike. You know how to do all that stuff. Why don’t you just like do something different in the spring and come on out?”