It’s been nearly a year since the pandemic took hold of the American economy, way of life and ski season. When lifts nationwide stopped spinning in mid-March, many skiers were filled with uncertainty, and to an extent, denial. “We just need to wait this out for a few weeks,” many of us thought. “I’m sure the lifts will be running again in time for the tail end of spring skiing.”
But this turned out to be a delusion. The snowpack quickly gave way to summer, and urban New Englanders began their mass exodus to rural mountain towns like North Conway and Stowe. Trailheads throughout New England became mobbed not just on sunny weekends, but midweek as well. On one hand, urban and suburbanites were taking advantage of their new remote work lifestyles, heading to the mountains for some much-needed fresh air and exercise. But on the other hand, the limits of what our natural spaces can handle was being tested.
When ski season returned, the resorts were put to the same test. Midweek lift lines, which were the result of socially distanced lift protocols and an influx of people from cities such as Boston and New York, resembled those of peak vacation weeks. And the lines during weekends and vacation weeks were unprecedented.
Although the lines and crowding at resorts seemingly have been manageable so far, night skiing has proved to be another option to help thin the crowds, or at least provide a less dense time to go. Night skiing not only offers less crowded slopes, but also is an option for an outdoor, socially distant nocturnal activity.