Spring has come to the slopes, from Sugar Mountain in North Carolina to Snowshoe in West Virginia, Wisp in Maryland to Mountain Creek in New Jersey.

Starting in late February the sun took on a real bite and, even though winter continued to rock on with frequent snow and freezing nights, days grew ever warmer and longer.

Snowpack transformed into the dense, compact cover of March.

Cold nights froze the surface hard, while groomers and daytime temperatures softened cover into a soft carpet of spring snow.

Veteran skiers and snowboarders know to watch out for variable surface conditions, and to beware of thinning cover that can expose rocks.

They also know to wear sunblock to protect against stronger sunlight that beats down from above, and reflects up from below.

Goggles or sunglasses are important pieces of equipment.

Clothing shifts from the ultra-warm garments of mid-winter to lighter garb of spring.

Skiers and riders dress in layers still, but more lightly, so various items of apparel can be taken off and stowed away as the days warm from 20s to 40s.

They know to ski early, enjoy the mid-day sun and warmth, and go home happy.

It also is a time for pond skimming and outdoor barbecues, beach parties, and reggae fests.

There is a certain magic to spring skiing. Skiers and riders may arrive a bit later at the slopes, as surfaces tend to be firm early and soften through the morning.

There always is a magic time each day when conditions are perfect, every turn a joy when edges set perfectly, leading from one to the next in linked arcs down the mountain.

It is the best of times, and the most bittersweet of times for skiers and riders.