The state Department of Environmental Conservation has opened a new cross-country-ski trail on former Finch, Pruyn timberlands that takes you along the Goodnow and Hudson rivers in the town of Newcomb.
I skied the 4.2-mile loop trail on Wednesday afternoon with my neighbor, Tim Peartree, and we had a blast.
“I liked the variety, the ups and downs, the scenery. It’s a terrific trail,” Tim said after our trip.
The ski trip is possible thanks to the state’s purchase of lands in the Essex Chain Lakes region from the Nature Conservancy a few years ago. The conservancy had purchased the land from Finch, Pruyn & Company in 2007.
Last winter, my daughter Becky and her fiancé, Joe, wanted to climb one of the Saranac Lake 6, so we snowshoed up St. Regis Mountain.
Although I like St. Regis – with its marvelous views of ponds and lakes—I am not an enthusiastic snowshoer. I mean, snowshoeing is OK, but I like cross-country skiing a whole lot more.
As we walked through the woods, I kept thinking, “This would be a great ski trail.” The terrain is gentle enough that on our way off the mountain we encountered a guy in MicroSpikes running up the mountain.
Skiing the Whiteface Memorial Highway early in the season is a ritual for many skiers in the Lake Placid region. The toll road was skiable from top to bottom for the first time late last week. This photo was taken Friday evening in the fading light.
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) is soliciting comments regarding their plan to amend the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP), the document which governs management of the state-owned “forever wild” lands of the Adirondack Park. It’s the first time the SLMP has been substantially amended in more than 25 years, and represents a critical opportunity for advocates of backcountry skiing.
Among the changes that are being considered is a proposal from the Adirondack Powder Skier Association (APSA) to explicitly allow for the creation and maintenance of designated backcountry ski touring trails on Forest Preserve lands classified as Wild Forest and Wilderness. » Continue Reading.
Last weekend we got a few inches of wet heavy snow, followed by a week of blue bird days with temperatures well above freezing. This made for nearly perfect conditions for backcountry skiing. A telephoto lens allowed me to capture this shot of a skier descending a slide in the backcountry.
“We can’t go wrong with Wright” was Ron’s proposal for an early spring backcountry ski destination. At seven miles, round trip, a ski tour to the summit of Wright Peak is one of the shorter trips in the High Peaks. But shorter isn’t easier and, as we soon found out, things can go wrong.
Our plan would require a combination of skills: we would start by cross-country skiing on the rolling terrain of Algonquin Trail, a narrow hiking trail starting at the Adirondak Loj parking lot. When the pitch became too great, we would put climbing skins on our skis for awhile, then replace our skis with crampons for the final push to the summit. For the descent, we would ski down the newly-fallen powder on the Wright Peak Ski Trail using alpine techniques.
As we approached the top, the towering trees of the lower elevations were replaced by the dwarfs of the Krumholtz zone, where the stunted and deformed trees looked like a bonsai garden.
At tree line, we met a couple of Canadian skiers who warned us of the treacherous winds and ice-covered rocks above. Rather than hike over the top of the mountain, Ron suggested that we follow the contour around the peak, traversing between the Lilliputian trees until we intersected the ski trail on the other side. » Continue Reading.
It was a nearly perfect day for a ski tour. The sun was out, and fresh powder covered the trail and coated the branches of evergreens along the way. Kim Martineau was especially happy to be here.
“This is one of my favorite trails. It’s just beautiful,” she remarked as we headed into the woods next to the Schroon River. “And you never see people.”
Kim and her husband, Ethan Rouen, joined me in early January for an eight-mile round trip from the Sharp Bridge State Campground to Round Pond in the Hammond Pond Wild Forest. Although she and Ethan had hiked the trail in other seasons, neither of them had skied it, and both were curious to see if it would be as satisfying in winter. » Continue Reading.
Better late than never. I had wanted to ski the Irishtown Trail on St. Patrick’s Day because, well, it just seemed appropriate. But as Robert Burns observed, the best laid schemes of mice and men don’t always go as planned. My trip was postponed by a few days, but the delay was a blessing in disguise, since the trail was now topped by a few inches of fresh dry powder from a post-St. Patty’s snow shower.
Starting on Route 28N, the trail traverses Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest for six miles, passing several ponds, and terminating at Irishtown. My goal, though, was to turn around at Stony Pond, a four-mile round trip that climbs about 700 feet. Beyond the pond, the trail is frequented by snowmobilers who access it from Irishtown, and skiers are advised not to compete with them for the trail. For a longer trip, a better option is to ski on the frozen surface of Stony Pond, circumnavigating its shoreline. » Continue Reading.
With over 18” of recent snowfall the skiing in the High Peaks has been excellent. Yesterday I went for an afternoon ski down the Mr. Van Ski Trail from the Adirondak Loj. This photo is of a skier heading upstream on Marcy Brook towards an open area with good views of Mount Colden and Wright Peak.
I skied Mount Marcy from Adirondak Loj on Friday. Conditions were very good below tree line; above, there was a lot of wind slab and ice. Bring MicroSpikes or crampons if you are headed to the actual summit. The last signpost was about six feet above the snow. In a good winter it’s buried, or nearly so. Thanks to Ron Konowitz and his helpers for removing blowdown on the ski trail below Indian Falls and shoveling snow to improve conditions. Ron is the president of the Adirondack Powder Skier Association.
I had lots to do on Saturday, but just couldn’t say ‘no.’ The blue sky and 40 degree weather was too much of a siren call, so I grabbed my skis and headed to the Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area. This may be my last chance to ski for the season, so the errands will just have to wait.
The Siamese Ponds area is deservedly one of the most popular spots in the southern Adirondacks for backcountry skiing, containing routes for skiers of all abilities. My late start and the impending darkness meant that today’s choice would have to be short and fast, so I picked Botheration Pond as my destination. I started at the Old Farm Clearing parking lot, where skiers compete each weekend for the 30 or so parking spaces, but today there are only a few other cars. I won’t see any of their occupants though – for the next two hours, I’ll share the trails with only chickadees and an occasional squirrel. » Continue Reading.
Last week’s rain and thaw bummed out backcountry skiers, but things could have been worse. We still have a solid base, but we could use several inches of powder on top of it.
Unfortunately, there are no sizable snowstorms in this week’s forecast. We got a dusting of snow last night, and we may get a total of an inch or so over the next few days. Small snow showers also are predicted later in the week.
The Adirondack Ski Touring Council is recommending that skiers stick to groomed trails until we get more snow. “The only exception is that it never warmed up all that much at the elevation of Lake Colden, so skiing there is still pretty good—just not so good getting there,” the council says on its website.
I went skiing both Saturday and Sunday to check out the post-thaw conditions.
We just finished our March/April issue of the Adirondack Explorer, so I took Tuesday off to go backcountry skiing and take advantage of the recent snowfalls (before a looming thaw sets in).
My neighbor Tim Peartree and I skied through two mountain passes. The first, Avalanche Pass, is one of the most popular ski trips in the Adirondacks. From Heart Lake, it’s about four miles to the top of the pass and an additional 0.6 miles to Avalanche Lake. » Continue Reading.
While out skiing yesterday afternoon I saw several signs that the snowpack is unstable and extreme caution should be used if you are tempted to head towards the slides after this recent snowfall.
I came across numerous small slides, such as the one in this photograph, on N and NW aspects at slopes as low as 25 degrees.
Whooping and shooting cracks were prevalent. I was skiing the trees but any turns made near a convex roll produced a small slide. If you venture into avalanche terrain make sure you have the knowledge to assess the risk, know proper travel techniques, and are carrying a beacon, probe, shovel, and the knowledge to use them.
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