Saturday, January 25, 2014

Skiing Roan Mountain

This year's birthday present from Noelle was a day of Nordic skiing up on Roan Mountain. Up until this week, I was afraid I would never get favorable conditions for skiing up there, but the little bit of snow we got in Greeneville the other day added up (supposedly) to 8 inches of snow up on Roan Mountain. This morning I packed up my boots, skis, and winter clothing and made the drive through Erwin and the Town of Roan Mountain up to Carver's Gap where I would start my ski journey.

I was able to clip into my broken bindings relatively quickly and soon started an ascent on the road that climbs up to the Rhododendron Gardens. Conditions were worrisome at first. A strong wind had blown the snow off of the road in spots and in other areas the snow was really more ice than snow.
road with bare spots
Still, I had driven for about an hour and half. I would make things work. Luckily as I climbed, the bare spots got less frequent. Also, the occasional view opened up looking east into the Fraser Fir Christmas Tree farms of North Carolina.
snowwy mountains

After a good climb, I passed the fee collection booth and decided to get off the road and try skiing the Cloudland Trail for a bit.
on skis
snack break
Conditions on the trail were okay. Because there was thick vegetation lining the trail, the wind did not blow the snow off the trail, but there were a few rocks sticking up out of the snow here and there. After a short time on the trail I opted to get back on the road for a bit. By this time I was thirsty and hungry. It was quite windy and so I skied into a nice sheltered area for a snack break. The snow in the sheltered area hung on the branches of the spruces and firs creating a real winter wonderland.
sheltered spot
For just a second I could imagine I was in Colorado or Minnesota, and not in the southeast.

After my snack, I decided it was time to head back to the car. A flurry had turned into near blizzard conditions by this time and besides, having not skied in about 2 years, I just really don't have my ski legs anymore.
snow is flying
It was an easy downhill back to the car. On my way down I saw some other skiers out enjoying the fine winter weather. I arrived back at Carver's Gap
flying snow
and from there it was treacherous drive to Elizabethon, through Johnson City and over to Greeneville. We had enough snow at home that my car wouldn't make it up the incline of our driveway! A good day though.          

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