Wild Wisp Weekend - A Firsthand Report 2
Author thumbnail By Matthew Graham, DCSki Columnist

It’s been a pretty bad year for snow lovers in Western Maryland. Sure, they’ve been running the snow guns during cold spells to keep the slopes open at Wisp. But skiing and boarding represent only a fraction of the charm of the Deep Creek Lake area. Thus after Garrett County got hit with back to back snow storms last week, my wife, Karen, and I rushed up to Deep Creek Lake on Saturday morning (March 5, 2005) for two days of playing in the snow … real snow.

The drive up from Tacky Park, MD took only 2 hours and 45 minutes, including a pit stop. We alighted in McHenry, MD at about 11:30 am and grabbed an early lunch at Bumble Q’s Restaurant before our trip went to the dogs; husky dogs that is. Yellow Snow Dog Sled Adventures was giving rides for ten bucks near the Discovery Center on the lake. The huskies were happy, happy, happy and couldn’t wait to start pulling the sleds. I sat under a warm blanket on the sled. Owner Kim Trickett stood behind me and drove her team of huskies. It was like making the jump to light speed as the dogs took off full speed for the five minute circuit through the woods and along the lake. Yellow Snow also offers a four-hour course on learning to drive the sleds and becoming a real musher. As our trip was so last minute, we were unable to book the course. It’s on the list of things to do next year.

We continued onto Swallows Falls State Park to view the waterfalls in winter. Signs at the park warned of dangerous and slippery conditions along the trail. And they indeed were slippery. Fortunately, we each brought a trekking pole to help negotiate the path. Still, we did a lot of foot shuffling and twice had to slide down the trail on our posteriors. That was pretty fun. Both Swallow Falls and Little Swallow Falls looked pristine and magical against the blanket of white. Blue ice walls shimmered in the sun next to Swallow Falls. The main waterfall at Muddy Creek was even more spectacular. When it gets really cold, the wall next to Muddy Creek Falls becomes one giant 52-foot high ice flow. We had hoped to climb the ice flow. However, the ice only extended down about fifteen feet from the top. Oh well, another thing to try next year.

A few miles up the road we stopped at Herrington Manor State Park and strapped on our snowshoes. There are several trails around the lake and through the woods: a green trail, red trail and blue trail. But we were unable to find any trail markers or blazes on the trees. Everything was covered in snow. They were all white trails. So we trotted around, being careful not to tread on the cross country ski lanes, until we got lost in the woods and then backtracked to the parking lot. Cross-country skiing would have been fun too. Next Year!

We couldn’t hang around too late anyway. We had a 4 pm horse-drawn sleigh ride scheduled at Pleasant Valley Dream Rides. I zoomed along the backcountry, snow-packed roads scaring Karen and arrived at 4 pm on the dot. Three folks from Columbia, MD joined us as owner Ray Miller guided the sleigh along his Amish farm and pointed out various parts of the farms and the names of nearby mountain peaks. It was an amazingly clear day with bright blue sky.

Ray told us that they ran the rides till 10 pm. A private ride under the moonlight was the most requested ride by couples. I told him to sign us up for next year.

We spent the night at the North Glade Inn, a B&B with a view of the lake. Our room had a Jacuzzi tub in it, which I made good use of after a long and busy day. The inn serves an elaborate breakfast with all kinds of goodies. I love breakfast. But it wasn’t served till 9 am. And we wanted to hit the slopes as soon as the lifts open. Skiers have their priorities. We started our day with a day-old bagel and banana that I had brought with us. When we checked out on Sunday morning, it broke my heart. Innkeeper Fred Fulk was cooking French Toast stuffed with cream cheese and fresh raspberries. The smell of fresh coffee filled the air. Hmmm. Maybe next year we won’t have to hit the slopes so early.

We also wanted to ski early so we might attempt snowboarding sometime during the day. We decided to ski first while the snow was still well-groomed. It was also hard packed in the morning (didn’t want to fall on that on a snowboard). At noon we put away the skis and headed to the spa. There’s a spa right above the lodge at Wisp, Sewickley Spa. It was Karen’s idea to get a massage. She’s a genius! Karen and I each got a 50 minute sports massage. Afterwards we felt rested and rejuvenated and ready to snowboard. But we were having too much fun skiing and it occurred to me that this might be our last time skiing for the year. We’d forget everything we learned about snowboarding anyway, I rationalized. So we hopped on out trusty skis and enjoyed the sunny afternoon, vacant slopes and the lack of lift lines. What a great way to end the season. We still want to work on snowboarding. It will just have till wait till next year.

A batch of cold Canadian air and more snow is predicted this week for Western Maryland. So if you have the time, don’t wait till next year to play in the snow.

About Matthew Graham

Matthew Graham is a skier as well as a hang glider and paraglider pilot, SCUBA diver, cavern diver, equestrian, polo player, sailor, hiker, biker, rock climber, paddler, and skater. He's also yoga teacher and certified personal trainer and has dabbled in just about every other sport, even stunt car driving and bull riding! He has written for the Washington Post, Washingtonian Magazine, USA Weekend Magazine, Hooked on the Outdoors, Richmond Magazine, Chesapeake Life Magazine, Metro Sports, American Fitness, Blue Ridge Outdoors, Recreation News and numerous other outdoor and travel publications.

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Reader Comments

March 8, 2005
now that's a proper winter filled weekend of fun!
The Colonel
March 8, 2005
A wonderful article, held my interest throughout. You carammed an awful lot into two days! I never knew all of that existed at Deep Creek, dog sled rides...now that is unusual for the mid-Atlantic.
I look forward to reading other articles from your pen.
Thanks again,
The Colonel

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