Ah Valentine’s Day. A time for celebrating love between each other. Well, at least normally it would be. But this Valentine’s Day might feel a little different, as many of us have been cooped up with our significant others for nearly a year now. I don’t care how strong your relationship is, none of us were prepared to spend that long in such close quarters with each other.
But hey, good news! You have skiing: a sport that naturally bends itself to your social needs. It’s a sport that lets you experience the same turns and trails as your compatriots or lets you branch out on your own only to reconvene at the chairlift. In fact it was that flexibility that led me to think about how perfect the sport can be couples, particularly those needing a little space. You can share the experience while still getting some solitude. You can enjoy almost the same thing but with fun differences.
So knowing that, I thought about what trails or areas of the mountain were best suited for splitting up while still being able to easily regroup. I was particularly interested in trails where you could find your own quick lines that diverged only to converge again. Sure, every trail provides hundreds of unique lines, but these in particular give you that simultaneous sense of solitude and camaraderie you just may be looking for this Valentine’s Day.
Birch Run is a great example of a trail with enough variation that two people can ski it at the same time and basically never even see each other the whole way down. And that’s OK! Right from the start you have two alleys to choose from around the first corner. In the middle of the trail, larger tree islands dot the way with groomed terrain on the left and typically ungroomed terrain on the right. As you approach the bottom runout, trees again litter the trail before one final split. There are plenty of opportunities to regroup mid trail, and it’s all under that sun so common on North Lynx’s south facing terrain.
Lower Castlerock Run
Lower Castlerock Run (LCR) is easily one of my favorite, if not my favorite trail on the mountain. A significant reason for that is simply the sheer volume of options you have as you ski down all the various alleys. There are tree islands with multiple routes around them basically all the way down the trail. Plus the lower angle terrain allows for smaller bumps, a welcome reprieve after a potential relationship straining ski through the larger bumps of Castlerock Run. I also realize that the above photo is Castlerock Run and not LCR. I couldn’t find an LCR photo, which probably means we all have too much fun skiing it to bother getting photos.
This duo of trails offers a little more solitude and space from your loved one with one main junction to reconvene about halfway down. In fact, these two trails offer the perfect metaphor for a relationship looking for a little space. You can essentially ski two completely different trails, stopping to meet up halfway for a hello, before heading back off on your own to the base. Last one down does dishes tonight.
The best option for couples with different ski abilities or wants. One of you can enjoy the steeps of Sleeper Chutes and the tree islands that follow while the other can meander around those obstacles via Sleeper Road. It’s a great compromise trail. The trail is also the perfect fit for adults with kids!
Paradise offers several good tree islands to split apart on and regroup. But the best split is when you’re presented with the option of heading to Lower Paradise or “Old ‘Dise”. Old Dice? I’m not so sure what the proper spelling is! Old ‘Dise, as pictured above, is the split that shoots off to the right and onto Ripcord. But fear not, you can simply turn right back onto Lower Paradise to catch back up to your Valentine.
All the North Ridge Quad Terrain
I spent a lot of time thinking about what trails over at Mt. Ellen have interesting splits and tree islands before realizing that the entire middle of the mountain is basically designed that way. You can easily split off on say Looking Good or Rim Run and reconvene at several points. Same goes with Which Way or Cruiser down below. There are plenty of other options beyond that. While Lincoln Peak tends to offer itself to pockets of skiing via different lift and trail systems, Mt. Ellen is one big hodgepodge of accessible terrain outside of Inverness. That lends itself quite well to the diverge and converge pattern of skiing together yet separate.
But don’t just listen to me, go take a look at the snow report on any given morning and create your own routes down. In fact, if you have other fun suggestions, please send them my way! However you ski the hill, I wish everyone a happy Valentine’s Day. We all deserve a pat on the back for surviving our relationships for the last year.