How to Approach Adventuring During Holiday Week
It has become tradition that snow-lovers each year take the opportunity offered by February’s President’s Week holiday to hit the slopes and the Nordic trails at the peak of their conditions. Because of the excellent midwinter conditions, it is almost always worth finding a place to ski during the February holiday; that being said, since everyone has the same idea, it is also worth strategizing about how to beat the crowds and enjoy the snow to its fullest.
Be the Early Bird
Folks are on vacation. They want to sleep in—it’s understandable. But if you want to get the best conditions, with the fewest people, and set the freshest tracks, you have to set that alarm. Especially this year when we all would do well to avoid crowds, shoot for morning ski sessions. Get up at dawn, watch the sun rise over the mountain pass and the fresh pow glow red, sip on a strong cup of local joe, and head to the trails. If you’re early enough, you can probably hop in the track or on the corduroy right behind the groomer laying it down: you’ll get to make the first marks on that pristine surface. Skiing early really is the best of both worlds. Not only will the trails be spacious and untouched, but the morning light often makes for some beautiful forest adventures.
Grab a Lunchtime Lap—and Pack your Own Snack
If you want to get the most out of peak season skiing, it’s worth thinking outside the box, going against the grain, striding to your own tune… For example: when everyone’s back at the lodge or the parking lot for lunch, that’s your time to shine. Bring a premade meal in your daypack, and while the trails are abandoned go for a little adventure: you can cruise around in peace and quiet, and perhaps find a hidden perch to eat your snack and maybe crack a cold beverage (or a hot one).
Get Off the Beaten Path
Sometimes the darkest clouds have silver linings. When the trails are packed and it seems like there is just nowhere with enough space for you and your crew to ski, take the opportunity to discover some terrain that no one else has. Whether this means strapping on your wide-bodied classic skis, snowshoes, or backcountry gear, keep an eye out for public land, parks, and multiuse trails, or just the field outside your house or hotel. Any snow-covered field or forest path can be a memorable adventure in waiting. Just be sure to pack plenty of food and water, your phone (for pics and problems) and a good attitude.
Don’t Neglect Nighttime Skiing and Snowshoeing
While some nights during a ski trip or staycation you want nothing more than to curl up early after a hard day in the hills, try to plan at least one snowy sojourn for after dark. Many cross country ski centers offer night skiing, where a set course is lit up with lanterns or spotlights. This adds a fantastical air to the forest, as if you’re skiing through a glowing tunnel. Alternatively, a moon approaching full offers a natural light that is truly magical. (If it’s too dark to see your skis, be sure to wear a headlamp.) Toss in a little pinot or hot mulled wine, and you might as well be on the moonlit French Alps.