The first mountain I fell in love with in the Poconos was Camelback. As a long time snowboarder, it is important for me to have a good mix of trail difficulties ranging from steep verticals on double black diamonds, to the easy, gradually-sloped green circle runs. I am lucky enough to have all of their 30+ trails and 10+ lifts and carpets in my backyard, and often take advantage of the resort amenities. But for this article I wanted to offer a new perspective--that of a beginner on the mountain--so I rented skis!
With my husband in tow as my coach and our Bernese Mountain Dog snow pup along for the adventure, we set off on our journey early Saturday morning. We first stopped at Pocono Ski Rentals right on Sullivan Trail to get sized for gear. The helpful rental specialists recommended short, wide skis for my beginner ability, and even offered some expert tips and advice. Within 15 minutes we were all set to continue along the scenic mountain road.
We drove past the main lodge and pulled into the convenient lower parking lot. I did not have to trek far in my new-to-me ski boots before stepping in my skis and getting some practice with my poles on the flats. This lot also allows us to keep our dog close by for frequent pup play breaks as we pass on the slopes--but he is more than content chilling with his bone in the truck with his three heavy coats of fur!
This would be the first time that I would actually take the beginner Sunbowl lifts--and would be kind of nervous to board. Instead of my attached snowboard, I now had both feet pointing their own direction with skis dangling and poles to hold onto! I was so relieved for how understanding the lift operators were when i would push myself slowly through the line and approach the chair.
After a few runs on the beginner’s lift and some practice with turning and stopping, I made my way to the upper mountain via the Sullivan Express and Meadows lifts. Even on a crowded day Camelback is able to keep lift lines short and moving across the mountain, making it easy for me to hit my favorite trails repeatedly. We cruised down the tree-lined Birches run and zig-zagged across the Julius Caesar. And again I was impressed by the ski patrol who realized I was a beginner and would shout out tips and words of encouragement. It seems that no matter where you are on the mountain, staff is present and ready to help.
The main base area is home to another great option for first time skiers and snowboarders: the Coolmoor Carpet. If it is your first time strapping in for snow fun, or if you are anxious about the chair lifts, the carpet is a great option and the Coolmoor is a very mellow practice hill. And when you eventually need a break from practicing, the eateries and bistros are right there for a quick meal and drink. I recommend rewarding yourself at the Thirsty Camel Bar and indulging at the Waffle Cabin!
Toward the end of the day we made our way to the familiar Stevenson Express at the lower base. Because terrain parks were out of the question for this newbie skier, I opted for the appropriately named Nile Mile blue square trail. Between that and the nearby double black diamond, Cliffhanger, you have your workout cut out for you. I was getting a bit more comfortable on the skis so I was having fun carving around the powder pockets on the sides of the trails.
After 20 runs my legs were screaming for me to stop for the day, so we skied to the truck and swapped out our gear for our pup! He played in the snow and followed us to our favorite new addition to the mountain: Trails End Pub and Grille. This ski-in, ski-out restaurant features mountain side patio firepit seats, which were perfect for us and the pup. We each had a drink while warming up by the fire and threw snowballs for our dog to chase as the slopes began to light up for night session.
With our last bit of energy we packed up the rentals and drove back down the mountain, passing the new Aquatopia Lodge and admiring how conveniently located it was for skiers and boarders who were spending the weekend. The waterpark was also lighting up for the night, but nothing quite prepared me for the light show behind the mountain. All 42 snowtubing lanes were glowing as a Galactic LED display danced across the tracks. We stopped and stared as crowds lined up to ride the nation's largest snowtubing park at night.
In the end, we vowed to come back with family and friends (and more energy) to complete our experience. Thank you Camelback for providing endless fun for the Poconos!
For more information and to plan your trip, visit http://www.skicamelback.com/plan-your-trip/trail-map-conditions/