Thursday, March 13, 2008

To the Memory of Southern Snow

When I was a kid living in the mountains of northern Georgia, I'd talk to old-timers who had already begun to notice that it just didn't snow as much as it used to. This is what the corporate bosses like to call "anecdotal" evidence, dismissing it with a sneer.

The entire time I lived in the northern part of Georgia near the NC/TN border, it snowed only once in three years at the elevation where we lived (about 1400 feet). Often we would look up at the higher peaks at 3,000 to 4,000 feet and they would be covered in deep snow and ice which generally descended no lower than about the 2,000-foot elevation.

In those days, Georgia had the southernmost ski resort in the USA. It was called Sky Valley and would get enough snow days to make it worthwhile to open a few runs during the winter. But as the years advanced, it snowed less and less in the southern mountains of Appalachia. In years past, the mountains of Georgia would often be snowed under during the winter months. Now, though, something was happening. The days of looking up at the tops of the Cohutta Mountains and seeing those 4,000-foot peaks frozen in winter storms were becoming more and more rare.

In 2005 the Sky Valley Ski Resort closed its doors for good. As a ski resort. They continued to promote the place as a golf resort and housing development, selling second homes to the moderately wealthy and retirement homes to older folk. The snows have just about fled, and it's rare now to see a good snowfall in Sky Valley, Georgia. Oh, you might see the ground get coated in white from year to year, but it rarely lasts for more than a day before melting off. And there's no way that there is enough snow to supply a ski run; and not even enough cold nights to allow the making of snow with blowers.

So the idle rich have their golf courses as they plow up more and more forest land to build second homes. And they have a place to drive to from Atlanta and Chattanooga so that their big SUVs can belch ever more smog into the air. And the power lines criss cross the mountains, bringing electricity generated by coal-fired plants, spewing vast tons of carbon into the air.

And the madness goes on.

Here's to the fading memory of snow.

Rabun Bald, (seen from Scaly Mountain, NC), second highest peak in Georgia at 4,696 feet on which used to sit the Sky Valley Ski Resort. Alas


dogboy443 said...

Remind me to pack some up for you and over-night it in some dry ice. We didn't have any 1-2ft storms this winter, but the many 6 inchers here and there made up for it on the end of my shovel

HemlockMan said...

Yeah, I know when you have to live around snow for long periods that it can get really old really fast.

My friends and relatives in Maine tell me that this year has been the first in a very long time with much snow.