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Skiing in Delaware

To my knowledge, Delaware is the only East Coast state that regularly receives snow, but has no place to ski. The closest lift is hours away in Pennsylvania or Maryland. Even Rhode Island has a ski lift just to thumb its little nose at Delaware. It's no real surprise though given that the highest point in the First State is only 448' above sea level, and that's not a mountain or even a hill - it's just a marker by the side of the road on a quiet residential street within sight of the PA state line.

Bah! I will not be denied powder turns in my home state.

I will ski in Delaware, and here is the log of my progress:

- 2016 -

BAM! The Jonas Blizzard dumped 20" of snow on Delaware, which was the only snow we'd seen so far all winter. Once the winds calmed down, I headed straight for the steepest hillside in Middle Run and this time I was packing my big Rossignol BC110 backcountry skis with their Voile Hardwire tele bindings and my Garmont Excursion plastic backcountry boots. I'd been eyeing the steeper hillside overlooking the Stepping Stones Bridge all summer, and with this much snow, I could use my big skis to carve it up without fear of hitting rocks. There was also a dug out spot at the bottom where there used to be an old quarry that I thought might be skiable. It was, and I spent the whole afternoon doing laps, only reluctantly leaving when the sun went down behind the far hill.

Skiing while holding your pole out in front of you is harder than it looks.

And this time without crashing at the bottom!

I made a really nice track to get back up to the top. Slogging through the fresh snow the first time up was brutal, and I wished I'd brought my climbing skins, but the other 7 ascents were increasingly easy. I even got to try out the new climbing bars I installed on my heelplates to level my boots out while the skis were pointed uphill. At this point, I'm going to claim success. Delaware has been skied. What next?

- 2015 -

The hillside next to the Corkscrew trail in Middle Run has yielded the best turns so far after Thor dumped a good 7" of skiable snow on top of an older icy crust. I managed to put in 10 runs of respectable tele turns on my XC skis and covered the hillside leading down to the Snow Goose Trail with tracks. I was doing laps back up the Snow Goose Cutoff and also climbing up above the start of Corkscrew to get a little more out of the hill. The trees are open, brush is minimal, and I managed to avoid all but one big-ass log hidden under the snow. This was a wonderful morning of skiing and I'm glad I brought the GoPro along to capture it. Behold, the Corkscrew Glades!

I managed 3 linked turns in a small open area of forest above the bench near the Chestnut Hill and Parking Lot Spur intersection in the Judge Morris section. I then bravely tried skiing off the side of the Parking Lot Spur but hit some brush near the top and was completely out of control by the time the pitch flattened out (yet somehow didn't fall).

I also made another attempt at skiing the steep hillside leading down from the green water tower to the stepping stones bridge in Middle Run, but found myself caught up on too many logs and brush to link many turns. There may still be a line there, especially if we get a really deep snow, or I just get better.

I took some runs down the Pike Creek Church sledding hill on my XC skis this year. I got some funny looks, but after a couple runs with decent turns and no crashes, I seemed to earn the respect of the sledding community and they welcomed me as one of their own.

- 2014 -

The polar vortex in 2014 dumped abundant snow on the First State, and I had some fun with the GoPro filming a long afternoon doing the perimeter of Middle Run, including going over the Logzilla stunts and some of the other log rides on skis because why the heck not?

I'm skiing on a pair of inexpensive XC skis that I don't mind scraping over rocks and roots. Downhills are terrifying.