Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Siamese Ponds: The New Botheration Pond Trail

The 114,000-acre Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area has always been one of the premiere places to cross-country ski in the Adirondacks. But this winter, the region offers something even more compelling: a new trail.

This is the first winter that skiers can travel the eight-mile Botheration Pond Loop, a route that circles around the Balm of Gilead Mountain and several lesser hills. The route begins and ends at Old Farm Clearing, located near the Garnet Hill cross-country ski resort.

The loop combines existing trails with more than a mile of new trails and two bridges, 35- and 55-feet long, that were built last summer by nearly a dozen volunteers and DEC staff under the supervision of Ranger Steve Ovitt.

The new bridges, quite ornate by Adirondack trail standards, cross over the East Branch of the Sacandaga. The route has become one of the most popular ski routes this winter, reports Fred Andersen, a local guide and member of the Siamese Pond Trail Improvement Society, a group of mainly retired ski aficianados .

“I did it yesterday. It was el primo,” said Andersen on Tuesday.

Andersen reports that the bridges took hundreds of man-hours and required the use of heavy tools (as well as high tolerance of the Adirondack’s famed insects, which is another reason to visit in the winter).

The best way to ski the route is clockwise, he reports. Adventurous skiers can lengthen the trip by adding a side-trip to Barton Mines Road Trailhead, Hour Pond or Thirteenth Lake via Elizabeth Point.

You can reach the Old Farm trailhead by heading south on Thirteenth Lake Road from Route 28 in North River. Take the road south for five miles, keeping an eye on confusing intersections. A DEC sign at a right fork just before Garnet Hill marks the turnoff for Old Farm.

Botheration Pond is the latest of a number of great ski routes in this area. More challenging routes include Puffer Pond (an epidemic of witch-hobble has made this trip more challenging of late), Siamese Ponds from Route 8 and a traverse from Old Farm to Route 8 (you need two cars for this one).

But don’t look for an answer to one of the most glaring questions about this new route: where did the name “botheration” come from? Even Andersen, a wealth of local knowledge, didn’t know.

“Isn’t it a goofy name?” he said. “We have no clue.”

(An earlier post included a link to the map that didn’t work. We’ve posted the map at the top, but visitors should note the detail is likely too small for use on the trail.)

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Alan Wechsler writes about outdoor recreation and is a regular contributor to Adirondack Explorer.

Alan has been coming to the Adirondacks since his uncle took him on his first backpacking trip—with wet snow, followed by temperatures down to zero degrees—at age 15. He says he still hasn’t learned his lesson.

Today, his frequent adventures into the park include mountain-biking, skiing (cross-country and downhill), hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and climbing (both rock and ice). A long-time newspaper reporter and avid outdoor photographer, he also writes for a number of regional and national magazines about the outdoors and other issues. Alan’s piece for Adirondack Life, Ski to Die, is an International Regional Magazine Association first-place feature-writing winner.

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