As one of the few remaining ski areas in the northeast that relies solely on natural snow, you’ve got to time your visits to Hickory carefully. But this winter’s been kind to Hickory – consistent cold temperatures allowed Hickory to remain open just about every weekend since mid-January. We visited on Hickory’s final day of operation for the 2014-15 season, and coverage was still excellent.
With unseasonably cold temperatures overnight, Hickory planned an 11am opening to allow the strong March sun to soften the snow. The snow needed every minute of that delay. We arrived close to noon and the snow was still pretty crispy, even in the sun.
Hickory’s vintage surface lifts – a T-bar and two Pomas – can be a challenge for young kids, especially the Pomas. Daniel, our 11 year old, has skied Hickory before, so I knew he’d be fine. I wasn’t sure how Sylvie, who’s just 7, would do on the Pomas, but the lift operator dialed the speed back a notch for her first ride and she made it to the top like a pro.
An electrical problem with Poma 2 took some terrain out of play, but in the end it didn’t matter as Poma 1’s trails had the better sun exposure anyway. As the sun worked its magic on the snow surfaces, the corn line crept higher and higher with each successive run. By early afternoon it was full-on spring skiing top to bottom.
Eventually the shadows crept back across the trails. We caught our last ride up just before 4pm. A group of skiers gathered at the top for last tracks down. At the bottom, we shed boots, helmets, gloves and parkas to lounge in the afternoon sun on the deck, toasting the day and the season with friends we’ve known for 20 years and friends we met just that day.