Allie Morgan is the daughter of Randy and Nancy Morgan, Owners of Outpost Sunsport.
After growing up skiing in Colorado, I wasn’t sure what to expect when some of my classmates at the University of Pennsylvania, where I’m in grad school, suggested we plan a trip to the Poconos. I’d never skied out East; actually, the closest I’d come was night skiing in Minnesota my freshman year of college. (All I remember about the MN trip is being cold… mind-numbingly cold.)
Several Poconos ski areas were recommended to our group, and the one we chose – Jack Frost – didn’t even have a trail map on the website, which made me increasingly skeptical. Still, I was excited to check it out and a group of about 20 of us drove from Philly to the mountains on a Friday evening in February. It started snowing as we pulled up to the cabin and didn’t stop until late that night. Ok, I thought, I guess it does snow here. (I haven’t seen any white stuff on the ground in Philly in more than two years, so I was starting to think the whole state didn’t get it anymore.) This was definitely a good sign!
We rolled into the parking lot at about 9:30 the next morning after a huge breakfast and a fairly flat drive. The main lodge was much bigger than I’d expected, but I was confused because there was no mountain to be seen. Once you walk out of the back of the lodge, however, you realize that you’re already standing at the top. It’s more like skiing into a valley rather than down a mountain, and the staff has to close the runs from the top at the end of the day instead of just shutting down the lifts (once you’re down there, you’re stuck).
None of the lift operators were very friendly or made any attempt at conversation, which was a stark difference from most of the Colorado mountains, but I couldn’t blame them…it’s probably not that exciting to be spending your winter in Blakeslee, PA. BUT – it was a really good day! There were a few groups of kids training on race courses. The snow was good, the rental skis were decent, there were 5 or 6 small lifts, it was sunny out, and there was a bar with live music at the end of the day. Food wasn’t cheap, but we also got lift tickets for $35/person, which was pretty great. As long as you made sure to size way down on your rental boots – which you grabbed off racks and tried on yourself, like you were at a really cold, damp Payless – and got all the way up to the loading line before being smacked in the calves by the chairs, you were all set.
Our group had a great time and at the end of the day had no injuries, no frostbite, no sunburns (amazing what being at low altitude can do for that), and a lot of enthusiasm for snow sports. For several people, it was their first time on skis or a snowboard (and all made multiple top-to-bottom trips by the end of the day!) A few others were experienced, and the majority were somewhere in the middle.
Here’s a reaction from Molly, a first-timer:
“I had no idea what to expect the first time I went skiing. I have always been involved in organized team sports, but never attempted something of this nature. It exceeded all my expectations! The cold wind rushing past my face, the warm sun reflecting off the white snow, the sensation of flying, the crash of the unexpected face-plant and ensuing freeze of the snow lodged inside my scarf and clinging to my eyebrows. Everything about the experience was new and magical, and I couldn’t wait to hit the slopes again…so I did! About a month later I got my second ski fix at Windham Mountain in New York, where I even attempted my first Black Diamond (and fell about 15 times). I can’t wait to ski again!”
Like Molly, everyone had an awesome day and was pumped to go again soon. We’re set on making this an annual tradition, if not a more frequent one. It’s certainly a different experience from riding the Super Bee at Copper or taking in the view of the Blue Sky Basin at Vail, and the drive lacked the excitement of winding up I-70 and coming through the tunnel at Loveland Pass. However, it exceeded all my expectations and made for a welcome break from city life. I have to admit, Pennsylvania…I’m impressed.
P.S. Outpost rental boots are better than Jack Frost’s (see photographic evidence).
Here are some other fun photos!
(Molly is pictured here at the bottom!)