Winters are tough around here. The days are short. There’s too much rain and not enough snow. Mountain bike rides are choked with mud. Road rides are freezing. Runs are lonely and cold. It’s a bleak time if you live for the outdoors. Sure, you can still look forward to those infrequent, but epic days when the snow piles up in the backcountry–the days that are so cherry, you call in sick to work and spend hours touring pillowy snow over trails and slopes, eating jerky and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches while giggling to yourself because you were fortunate enough to be able to catch the storm in the sweet spot.
But those routine adventures–the regular ride or group run that gets you through the middle of the week—are tough to find during winter. Enter “Whiskey Wednesdays,” quite possibly the best idea my buddies and I have had since the Great Bunny Hop Contest of 2008. Picture four dudes filling up flasks with booze, piling into a mini van, and heading for the tiny ski resort outside of town. The goal is to ski as many laps as we can, drink just enough to keep us warm, and shake off some of the stress from the work week.
The terrain at our home resort isn’t outstanding. It’s probably best known for a mild vertical drop and questionable grooming practices. You spend most of your time skiing through snow guns at night. It’s not high adventure by any means, but the whiskey helps; little nips of Roundstone Rye (one of Virginia’s finest) on the slow chairlift to the top of the mountain. We always take it easy on the first run, getting our legs under us, but soon we’re racing, trying to see who can barrel down the mountain fastest lap after lap. It’s mid-week and late, so there’s no one else on the hill, which means we can let it out. There’s some light pushing and the occasional full tackle (Chinese Downhill rules are in effect).
After the skiing, there are beers and pizza and maybe a screening of something classic, like Hot Dog: The Movie, if we have enough energy. As the season progresses, the skiing will get better. The mountain’s base will get deeper, they’ll open more terrain and some of us might even have the balls to enter the terrain park. But Whiskey Wednesdays are only a little bit about the skiing. Mostly, it’s about making the most of a situation, and maintaining a semblance of adventure to help battle Winter-induced ennui. Okay, mainly it’s about the whiskey.