The Adirondack Mountain Club’s Winterfest on Saturday January 11th was wet, but not washed out. While snow was in short and diminishing supply the level of enthusiasm and good cheer held firm against conditions that would dismay the most stalwart event planner. Indeed throughout New England all manner of activities were canceled in face of the fourth rainy weekend in a row that once again had highway crews on flood alert.
The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) and the staff of their Adirondack Loj had put together an extensive schedule of activities, most free, as a way of enticing people of all ages to come out and enjoy fun in the snow. Trips were planned up Algonquin and Mount Jo and to Avalanche Lake; Heart Lake was cleared of snow for skating and curling activities; lessons in Telemark turns, cross-country skiing, and waxing were offered; snowshoes, skates, a wide-array of back country skis, and crampons were available along with a treasure hunt, kids obstacle course, food, live music, and more. Surprisingly, in light of at times heavy rainfall, is how many of those activities took place.
“Although the one thing we can’t control, the weather, has turned out more spring-like than we desired, we still have over 30 volunteers helping us out and a bunch of activities planned so we will make the best of it,” said John Million, deputy executive director for ADK. “Certainly Telemark skiing on our ski hill may be impeded by these conditions, but the rest of the activities will go on and we hope to have a great day.”
“I hope to get some people snowshoeing who have not tried it before as this event provides them a nice easy way to get snowshoes on their feet and get going,” said Bill Keyes, a Tubbs Rep. “Snow shoeing is super easy to learn, has a very easy entry level, and not too expensive. Once you buy the shoes you are pretty much set, you don’t have to buy a lift ticket or anything like that, and you can go pretty much anywhere you want.”
“I hope I can entice some people to take the quest, an exploration of the trail around Heart Lake with the objective of locating the quested items,” said Carol Pinney. “I have micro-spikes that I can put on people’s boots because we know it is a little icy out there.”
“The water on the ice makes it too dangerous plus the stones don’t slide properly,” said David Kobe of the Lake Placid Curling Club. “You need a dry surface to “pebble” the ice, which you can’t do today. It’s a pity because they had a great set up for us. We intend to have an Olympic learn to curl at the Saranac Civic Center on February 16 at 3:30 P.M. Anyone can come. They will learn how to curl and play a game.”
“We are introducing people to Nordic Skates,” said John Diamond of the Human Powered Planet Earth Bike Repair Shop. “They are a speed skating blade that clips to your cross-country ski boots and can go over cracks and crust a lot easier than hockey and figure skates. You can skate with or without poles. Poles are great when it is windy or crusty, and you can go for miles with less energy than on skis. We have people out on skates, snowshoes, and big fat tire bikes. I have all-terrain skis that work on grass or ice. On a day like this you can still have a blast.”
“We are having fun no matter what,” said Paul Dobrzynski of Liverpool, NY. “We are making the best of it,” said Meg Keach. “I have never skated on a lake with two inches of water on it so this has been a new experience for me.”
“Being out on a day like this is not a problem, we are outside all the time,” said one North Country School (NCS) student. “We are going to try to make the most of it,” said another. “We are going to learn how to skate on the Nordic skates. We are going to eat food. We are going to make origami.”
“We have our own ski hill,” said NCS math teacher Mickey Hart. “It has been basically inactive so far this year, but we make do. We play pond hockey. We have the ice sports going on, and we are out here today.”
“We are trying to get people excited about cross-country, touring skiing, back-country skiing, snow shoeing, the whole bit,” said Maureen Mooney, from Cascade Ski Center. “Don’t let this weather fool you, there is more snow coming. It is just building our base a little bigger.”
In the next tent Brian Delaney of High Peaks Cyclery demonstrated the fine art of waxing skis. While the rain pounded on the awning he extolled the importance of scraping off then corking in the wax starting with a basecoat of green, and provided a lesson in applying klister, a perfect wax for such conditions. “We are screening free films every Saturday at 5:00 PM in our Guide House now until February 14,” he said. “So when the weather is bad, there are always alternatives.”
“We educate people about the responsible use of our land when you are out hiking, camping, fishing, rock or ice climbing, or some other outdoor activity, ways they can protect our environment, and lessen our impact on the land,” said Tracy Howard of Leave No Trace. “We want to protect these lands for future generations. We are encouraging the participants to think in terms of pack it in pack it out including their fruit peels.”
“The hike up Mount Jo was fine,” said Pete Defima. “It was a little icy and wet coming down, but other than that it was a nice climb considering what the day promised. We plan to come back next year. This was a great little event.”
“Only in the Adirondacks would we still hold an event like this under these conditions and people would actually show up,” said John Million. “We are carrying on unabashed.”
“The skating on Heart Lake was fun,” yelled one North Country student. “It was scary,” said another. “I had never done that before.” “It was a tad wet,” said a third. “I want to try the fat tire bike,” said a forth.
“It is important to come out for the exercise,” said Cayla Mallach between sips of hot chocolate.
Photos: Above, Brian Delaney giving a waxing clinic; middle, North Country students with math teacher Mickey Hart; and below, Maureen Mooney of Cascade Ski Center promoting back country skis.