Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Backcountry Skiing: Fresh Snow, But More Needed

Evergreen-flats-web-600x4143We got several inches of light snow over the weekend, so I went to the Jackrabbit Trail on my lunch hour Monday to check out the ski conditions. I skied the two miles from McKenzie Pond Road to McKenzie Pond. The woods were beautiful, with fluffy snow adorning the branches of the evergreens. The trail looked nice, too.

Unfortunately, there was little or no base underneath the fluff. For the most part, this was not a problem. In several places, though, roots and rocks lurked beneath the surface. The diciest spots were on two small downhills on the return trip. Both sections have rocks. I took these slowly. If the trail gets skied and the snow scraped off, I imagine the downhills will get worse.

McKenzie-Pond-web-600x4313Thankfully, most of the route to the pond is flat and fairly smooth and doesn’t require much snow to be skiable. At the turn for the pond, I saw that some skiers had come down the big hill that starts in the col between McKenzie Mountain and Haystack Mountain. I don’t know if they skied the whole hill (it’s a mile and a half) or what the conditions are like. The Adirondack Ski Touring Council says the Jackrabbit on the other side of the pass is skiable.

Conditions are not likely to improve right away. It’s supposed to be cold all week, but not much snow is forecast. Given the lack of base on the trail to McKenzie Pond, I would be careful about where you ski. Old truck trails, old logging roads, and old woods roads are the best bets.

Another option is pond skiing. On Sunday, I skied on a number of ponds in the St. Regis Canoe Area. Conditions on the ponds were superb. The carry trails were mostly skiable, with some bare sections. After Sunday night’s snowfall, they’re probably in better shape today.

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Phil Brown is the former Editor of Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues, the same topics he writes about here at Adirondack Almanack. Phil is also an energetic outdoorsman whose job and personal interests often find him hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, trail running, and backcountry skiing. He is the author of Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures, which he co-published with the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the editor of Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks, an anthology of Marshall’s writings.Visit Lost Pond Press for more information.

One Response

  1. Paul says:

    I bet is was good skate skiing on the Ponds over the weekend. The less snow the better really, as long as there is just a little or a good solid crust. I miss the opportunity to do that these days. Nothing better than skiing across something like Ossetah Lake at night and seeing the northern lights. I have been lucky enough to have experienced that a few times in the past.