Elk Mountain review: Best of the Pocono 1Ks
(day 9 [the 7th post] of an “extended” circle route of 14-15)
I had successfully sandwiched two areas into one the day before. Thus I checked out so as to head home after my visit to Elk Mountain this afternoon. All these Pocono areas should be considered “day tippers” as there are no significant houses or base “villages” that offer après or ski in/out. Union Dale is the hometown of Elk Mt. offering a variety of brand name hotels.
This would be my 14th consecutive day of skiing and could well relax tomorrow before packing off to Colorado to connect with the wife and kids and their kids in Denver for our annual family western ski tradition. (And that’s another story.)
Elk Mountain was a gem. I actually stumbled into a very neat “mini’-lodge” on my way to the main base lodge. It was akin to a cabin tucked off in the corner of a base area. A small cadre of locals had staked their claim in the limited space. They had already started and stoked a fire which would be used for grilling their lunch. It reminded me of a western miner’s cabin, although I’ve never prospected or mined for that matter. My guess is the cabin served the original mountain when it began years ago. ( 1960, I later learned from the “history” section of their web site. And the mining cabin is officially termed the “Picnic Cabin”. Now you know the whole story.)
At any rate, I was re-directed to the real lodge a short distance away. It was large, spacious and again I surmise, very new. There were ample, large windows , a large, second level, balcony, a very nice restaurant and an accompanying bar with an adjacent lounge area. The cafeteria section offered plentiful tables, each with offering a view of the slope and close-by lifts.
Elk Mountain proved to be a fitting end to the PA Pocono extension of the “Circle Route” of ’15, The temperature continued on its climb up. The snow was soft but still ample, especially in this late season. What a winter. this 14-15 season is a classic worth noting and referencing in future years.
Before purchasing my pass for the day, I chatted with the instructors suggesting as usual a reciprocal youth-visit program. As so often, there was a tepid but respectful reaction that I read as, “No thanks. Not interested.”
I then prefaced my thought with, “I’m a super senior …” (to preparation to asking if there was a discount better than the tradition ‘pro-courtesy”) but before I could finish my question, my counter part injected, “Hey, congratulation’s.” implying “Big deal!” with patronizing disregard.
Elk mountain was the high water mark of my PA sojourn; nice variety: five expert trails and a pleasing array of intermediate slopes, presented on over 128 acres. The snow making is with newer and efficient equipment. It was a pleasing experience. The best of the Pocono region.
With my first run I saw why there was so little recognition of seniors. Elk Mountain at least on this day appeared to be entirely seniors! It was a function of numbers, not a disrespect of seniors. My concern now, is the question: who’s gonna support this fine area a decade from today. Guys, it behooves someone to get out there marketing to the millennials? Cappish?
The peripheral runs were good in that hey required no skating or any of the “cross-country shuffle” to negotiate the flats. Is fact I had enough momentum that very close to the bottom, as I glided laterally over a groomer-track, me knee collapsed and I settled my sad-ass onto the flat.
Oh, it was an effort to arise form a prone position. I recall another reason I like the steeps. It’s so much easier to arise once you skis are downhill. You merely execute a gentle lateral push with your uphill elbow and BINGO! You gravity does the rest and you’re erect! Fie on the flats!
And speak about humiliation! Well I was tired. It was my first run. I was stiff. But I admit it was a real side-show effort. When I finally achieved my objective (amid groans, wails, cracks, creaks and perhaps even under-my breath curses) – a vertical position, I was startled to realize a fellow skier practically standing over me displaying a very concerned expression.
“Good job!” he volunteered. I was concerned I’d have to call the Patrol for help,” How embarrassing. But I knew he was not teasing. He was serious! Oh well, I did press forward to eventually loosen up. Yea, yea, maybe I did need a day off.
It was a pleasing experience. The best of the Pocono region. Fair variety and a mogul field that ran almost the entire vertical rise. And nicely spaced, well formed and on this day: soft. I had to ease in (or more accurately, ski … “out”) on several runs due to tired state, until I finally loosened enough to proceed non-stop top to bottom.
On one of the lifts up, I chatted with another skier who I guessed was approaching my age. We talked extensively about his career and his impending retirement. He took was looking forward to moving west where the cost of living especially for retirees was more reasonable. East coast states taxation is simply a burden few can justify much less afford on a fixed income. Go west. young man, Go west.
I did stat until the last run. But the lodge was a ghost-town. Again, indicative of the senior-pattern; so typical -early in,. Early out. Little après skiing life . It didn’t matter. It was a great day and I was on my way home; home and rest.
I was amazed at the return ride: Just under four hours; closer that the Adirondacks! I shall return, This is conceivably a doable day-trip from home-town, Buffalo. 231 miles from my door. And I broke up the ride with one for my preferred road stops: a TA truck stop. All are similar and pleasantly predictable: convenience store, clean rest rooms, reasonable gas prices, AND a great cafeteria with good service often a help yourself salad bar. You can stop with confidence at truck stops, but TA is always exceeds my highest expectations.
The one in Dansville, NY on I-89 turned out to be more than halfway, and it’s a good thing. After a big serving of pot-roast, I grew sleepy, just making it home before a good-night’s, well-earned “extended” circle route.
But wait. There’s more! Although technically not a part of this “extended circle”, I was able to pick up Blue Knob just two days later. KA-POW! This visit closes out PA. One more state down and off my bucket list.
And the 14-15 season was far from ended. Come, Ski With Me! There’s another “mini? circle too!