Hit the slopes

What: Conditions aren't the best this early in the season, but after after so many months of going without, schussing down the slopes is a blast. And there's no need to wait for natural snow: Local resorts are equipped with massive snow-making operations that are allowing them to open earlier than ever. So get the skis and snowboards out of the garage and get out there and enjoy.

When: Most Western North Carolina resorts have lifts running during the day from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and also offer night sessions from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Where: At this writing, Sugar Mountain Resort in Banner Elk (www.skisugar.com), Catalochee Ski Area in Maggie Valley (www.cataloochee.com), and Appalachian Ski Mountain in Blowing Rock (www.appskimtn.com) were open for operations.

Price: Prices vary by resort, but most have special early season discounts.

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