RARE IS THE family-friendly wintertime outing where getting there is half the fun, but Meany Lodge, about 60 miles east of Seattle on I-90, is just such a place. Guests of Meany (which is only open on weekends) rendezvous with a Sno-Cat early Saturday morning at Crystal Springs Sno-Park, and after eveyone has piled in, the driver rumbles up a scenic three-mile trail to the four-story A-frame lodge. Seats near the cat’s exits are prime real estate, since kids perched there will be among the first to dash upstairs to claim one of the 90 bunks, and the first to race out the door to line up at the resort’s rope tows—including one that’s among the oldest in Washington state. Though this antiquated tow requires riders to clamp in via an odd system seldom seen since the 1950s, it nonetheless speeds a quarter-mile up the 500-vertical-foot slope at an exhilarating 15 miles per hour. Spills are common, but it’s all in good fun, and once up top, everybody scrambles to make fresh tracks on 32 named runs that have remained untouched all week.
For one flat rate, visitors at Meany get two days of skiing and dormitory-style accommodations in the modest lodge, run since 1928 by the Mountaineers, a Seattle climbing club. Meals are included, though you have to wash your own dishes and, as there is no television or Internet access, provide your own entertainment. Therefore, guests ballyhoo just like they did prior to the digital age—with dancing, card games, ping-pong or (believe it or not) actual human conversation—until lights-out at 10 p.m. When it comes time to depart, even leaving Meany is a blast, as the weekend’s 75 to 80 visitors once again either clamber aboard the 30-passenger Sno-Cat or grab onto the rope being towed in its snowy wake for the most delightful return to a parking lot you’re ever likely to experience.