June 21, 2012
As temperatures soar to record highs, it is nice to recall the diversions of winter. This year, the Dean of Student's office expanded the Beyond the Hill offerings and created the first college-sponsored ski trip for students. For its first year, 25 students left midday on Friday, March 3, in a caravan of vehicles for the mountains of West Virginia. By the time they reached the border of Virginia/West Virginia, fog encompassed the vehicles and left only about 100 feet of visibility. By the time they reached Snowshoe Mountain, visibility had become even worse and a cold front was approaching. After moving into the lodge, they decided to take a chance on the weather and get in a night-skiing session. Fortunately, they got in about two hours at Silver Creek before the mountain was closed due to lightning. The students headed back, grabbed a bite, and either joined a karaoke party or headed to bed in preparation for a full day of skiing.
At 8:30 on Saturday morning the group met to eat a healthy share of bacon, eggs, pop tarts, and orange juice. By 9:30 AM, all 25 men were skillfully carving or recklessly tumbling down the mountain. With the vast selection of trails and difficulties, groups assembled based on their ability. Those who dared to challenge Snowshoe Mountain went to the Western Territory where only self-proclaimed experts skied down black diamond trails. Others spent much of their time at the terrain park, attempting a variety of tricks and spins without serious trauma. By about 4:30 PM, the Hampden-Sydney group worked their way back to the lodge, some hurting more than others. Once showered and rested, they headed for a group dinner at Foxfire Grill in the village. They all looked forward to a full night of sleep after a busy day and one more day of skiing before heading back to the Hill.
West Virginia gave the H-SC visitors a great parting gift with a fresh 4-6 inches of snow on the mountain overnight and during the morning hours. By the time the students left in the early afternoon, however, they realized that this program was much more than a mere ski trip. It brought men from different circles on campus together in a new environment and proved that the Hampden-Sydney identity is universal. Furthermore, it gave them an outlet away from the rigors associated with academic work at the College yet maintained the Hampden-Sydney atmosphere of camaraderie, laughter, and friendship.