Spring sunshine is beating down on a winter's snow cover at Owl's Head and other resorts in the Eastern Townships of Canada's Quebec Province.
A trip here is about more than skiing, however, as it offers a chance to stay at B&Bs that abound, with homestyle lodging (if only home were like this) and gourmet breakfasts. Many offer lodging and lift ticket deals, including Ski East, a four-day stay with skiing at all of the area's slopes.
French culture, language, and road signs in French with distances in kilometers spice the visit with foreign flavor, at least for American skiers and snowboarders. For locals and Montrealers who frequent the slopes it's life as usual.
Magog is a major center for the Eastern Townships, located at the northern end of Lake Memphremagog which extends between Magog and Newport, Vt., 25 or so miles south.
Owl's Head is a wonderful family mountain, with 44 trails, four quads (three of them high-speed), and four double chairs, 100 acres of skiable terrain, and a vertical drop of 1,772 feet.
On a recent visit, the area had endured drenching rains on Friday and a hard freeze overnight, but still offered decent - if somewhat firm - trail cover.
The resort was hosting a handicapped ski race that Saturday for the Eastern Townships Disabled Skiers Foundation, and Quebec schools were beginning a holiday week, but even so parking lots and trails were uncrowded.
Skiing in Quebec involves a border crossing, likely at one of two places - just east or west of Newport.
Getting into Canada is simpler for Americans than returning to the United States, but neither passage is very difficult.
Canadian customs officers ask whether you have alcohol or guns, where you plan to stay, and the purpose of your visit.
American officers are a bit more probing on the return, asking for government-issued photo ID, where you went, why, what you do for a living and, in some cases, why you might have Afghan or Iraqi visas in your passport.