Timberline: Luau West Virginia Style

By: Doug Plocki

It was somewhat discontenting to ski on a mountain that later exploded in an electrifying volcanic eruption, but that is exactly the type of pleasant duality engendered by Timberline Four Seasons Resort. Take for example the grass-skirted ski patrol, the NASTAR racers in full evening gowns and fur coats, sarong-clad beauties, skiers in quasi-formal attire or the hula-band encouraging patrons, who otherwise have no business whatsoever to shake it in public, to get up and dance for the crowd. All together, the 9th Annual Snowy Luau crowd was festive, the sun was shining and the excellent spring conditions made Timberline an absolutely enjoyable weekend destination.

Nestled in a quiet corner of Canaan Valley, near Davis, West Virginia, Timberline Resort offers a big-resort feel in a small-resort package. The lodge, the parking lot, and the lift lines are all small. The 1000' vertical is huge, and cleverly shared by 35 trails covering over 91 skiable acres. 3 lifts move 4000 skiers each hour making for a quick turn-around between runs. The view from the uppermost lift is a breathtaking snapshot of the remarkably flat Canaan Valley. This proves a compelling contrast to Timberline's exciting terrain which ranges from 3 double-blacks to the meandering 2-mile Salamander beginner's trail. Two excellent mogul runs, a boarder's half-pipe, and a separate beginner's lift and trail complete Timberline's total package.

Experts enjoy Off the Wall and Cherry Bowl Glades, and can strut their stuff under the lift on Silver Streak. Beginners have plenty to choose from and enjoy, including a secluded beginner's area- check your pride with the lift attendant. The ski school staff, ostensibly handsome and talented, are some of the best instructors around, and teach all ages, abilities, and modes of downhill pursuit. When you go, ask for Bruno, tell him the Ski Bum News sent you.

A midday break at the Timber Lodge is an integral part of the Timberline experience, but be prepared. The snack bar is inexpensive, whimsically straying towards the 7-11's menu. There were, however, two notable exceptions: the outdoor barbeque, or in this festive instance pig roast, served a mean burger and tasty barbequed pork for a very reasonable price, and Sunday morning's country gravy draped plentifully over warm biscuits worked to significantly reduce the damage done by patronizing the Timber Pub Saturday night.

But really, who can resist beautiful hula-girls, the promise of a volcanic eruption, and the "Shot-ski"? The Hawaiian band Hoaloha provided the entertainment with soft island sounds, swaying hips, beautiful smiles and plenty of opportunity, encouraged wryly by the band, for public humiliation. Does anyone remember the old joke about two puppies fighting in a sack? Shake it baby, just don't break it. Anyway, after a few whirls around the dance floor had most folks primed and ready to attempt the Shot Ski - a Timberline original where you and four compatriots, or one seriously committed drinker, can attempt to balance one ski with 5 attached shot glasses to the great delight of the crowd. The glasses were secured to the ski with silver duct-tape which can be chalked up to local color.

The penultimate expression of Timberline Ski Resort's commitment to the Snowy Luau theme comes in the form of a red torch-light parade of over 100 skiers, beautifully orchestrated in concert with a dazzling fireworks display simulating near-perfectly a volcanic eruption, even to folks who did not try the Shot Ski. Imagine a meandering torch-light procession trickling slowly down the heart of the resort while the mountaintop explodes in reds and whites. Better yet, go see it for yourself.

Let me tell you a little secret: Timberline is one of the best kept secrets in the Mid-Atlantic region. It's close to Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Morgantown, and Washington D.C., and averages a little over 150 inches of natural snow each year. Combined with its ability to move 833 tons through its snow making machines every hour, Timberline is well equipped to accommodate a full season of quality skiing. It's a regional favorite, with a package enticing enough to draw Northeast and Mid-West skiers. Put it on your list for next season, skiing with a touch of the surreal.


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