Since the big storm last week, I’ve been skiing a lot in the backcountry. Generally, I found the conditions very good, but skiers need to be mindful that we had little or no base before the snowfall. You may encounter exposed boulders on trails. If you’re skiing off trail, you must be wary of logs and rocks lurking within the powder.
On New Year’s Day, I skied from Adirondak Loj to Lake Colden. At the outset, I wondered if the cover would be adequate on the trail from the Loj to Marcy Dam, a section with a lot of large boulders. Although I did encounter some exposed rocks, they were easily avoided. » Continue Reading.
We recently spent our New Year’s Eve with family and went exploring the Schroon Lake region of the Adirondack Park. The snow is here and my Adirondack family is going to enjoy every minute of it. My mother shares stories of my father’s early military career, which at some point involves a campground in Schroon Lake. Of course that means packing up the car and taking a ride along Route 9.
We ask at a local restaurant for campgrounds and are given the names of Scaroon Manor and Eagle Point. Though the road trip is inspired by my mother’s stories, we also want to find some fun trails to snowshoe or a pond to skate upon. We are surprised to find that most of Schroon Lake’s water in unfrozen. This rules out any lake ice-skating and we are not prepared to downhill ski at Gore. Continuing on Route 9 we pass a sign announcing that the free Schroon Lake skiing and sledding hill is open. » Continue Reading.
Evidently, many backcountry skiers find waxing mystifying. Otherwise, why would waxless skis be so popular? But it needn’t be so.
“Waxing isn’t alchemy,” Paul Parker advises in his classic manual Free Heel Skiing. “It can be as simple or complex an art as you choose to make it,”
We choose simple. There are two types of wax: glide wax and kick wax. Glide wax keeps your skis running smoothly over the snow. Kick wax is applied to the midsection of your skis to bite into the snow, providing the purchase necessary to propel yourself forward. » Continue Reading.
Volunteers helped Dewey Mountain Recreation Center begin the installation of new signs and introduce a new trail map Sunday. The signage and a loop-based trail system are designed to improve flow and clarity on 13 kilometers of cross-country ski trails. Dewey Mountain, a multi-season recreation facility owned by the Town of Harrietstown, also features 10 kilometers of in-town snowshoe, mountain-bike and walking trails.
The bold new signs were funded by a mini grant from North Country Healthy Heart Network’s Creating Healthy Places program, funded by the New York State Department of Health. One of the program’s goals is to increase opportunities for North Country residents to be physically active. The signs are designed to make trails more welcoming by clarifying routes and level of difficulty. The intent is to make it easier for visitors and newcomers to mountain sports to navigate trails safely. » Continue Reading.
Two Saranac Lake institutions, Doty’s barbecue and the Dewey Mountain Ski Center, unite 3–8 p.m. Sunday, July 29 for a Summer Ski Jam & BBQ at Mount Pisgah. The idea of a Summer Ski Jam originated with some of the musicians who play Dewey Mountain Recreation Center’s little log cabin on winter Friday nights. They decided to get together in warm weather and put on an outdoor concert to benefit the campaign to build a new base lodge for Dewey Mountain. Performers include the Barn Cats, Big Slyde, Blind Owl Band, Celia Evans, Steve Langdon, and Roadside Mystic.
The Summer Ski Jam & BBQ also features Doty’s signature marinated beef and chicken with all the sides. Together with his parents and brothers, Derek Doty ran the popular Doty’s Country Road Beef butcher shop for 28 years, and he continues to barbecue on special occasions. The community-supper atmosphere will welcome families as well as summer guests. » Continue Reading.
Sometimes when the weather starts to fluctuate it is easier for someone else to plan the outdoor activities. A lot of times, attending these Adirondack Family events introduce us to a new area, new favorite trail or friend. This weekend is a typical Adirondack weekend where the choices are numerous. Unfortunately we can’t be everywhere at once. There are special family events happening in all corners and beyond the Adirondack Park. Here are four events that are free to attend.
The Lake George Land Conservancy is hosting its Winter Warm Up on March 10 from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Lake George Recreation Center with a variety of activities from live raptor presentations to broomball matches. Up Yonda Farm will offer interpretive snowshoe walks. If you always wanted to try snowshoeing, this is your chance. The snowshoes are available to use for free as well. There will be nature crafts to make and storytelling by the bonfire. Hot soup, bread and s’mores will top it off. Also the Lake George Recreation Center has a sledding hill and cross-country trails. The LGRC’s Berry Pond Preserve can be accessed from the Rec Center if people want to venture out on their own. Dewey Mountain Ski Center in Saranac Lake is hosting its annual Dewey Day with Adirondack Lake & Trail Outfitters on March 10 (9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. The facility will be free and open to the public. If your 6 to 13 year-old ever wanted to try biathlon, the Adirondack Paintball Biathlon is also on the roster. Other games include a children’s snowshoe scavenger hunt, icicle obstacle course and ski speed trap. Bring a team for the boxer short triathlon relay where teams will ski, snowshoe and sled.
In Newcomb the full moon will be celebrated at The Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC) with a chili ski/snowshoe party on March 10th. The AIC’s trails usually close at dusk so these full moon parties are special indeed. The $5 fee covers the cost of the chili, hot chocolate and marshmallows. The trails at the AIC are always free and open to the public. This event is going to run no matter the weather so gear up. The event starts with chili at 6:00 p.m. and then closes with fireside hot chocolate and marshmallows at 8:00 p.m.
With the temperatures fluctuating, Thurman is making maple and inviting the public for tours of its sugar bushes. March 10-11 is the first of three consecutive maple weekends in Thurman. The other Thurman Maple Weekend dates are March 17-18 and 24-25. Each weekend will start with a 9:00 a.m. pancake breakfast ($) at Valley Road Maple Farm, the rest of the weekend events run from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. with free demonstrations, tastings and walking tours showcasing tree tapping, evaporating and maple making. There will also be some free sampling. (Don’t worry if you miss the 9:00 a.m. breakfast call, t continues until 1:00 p.m.)
If you can stick around on March 10th, the 53rd annual Maple Party will start at 4:00p.m. ($) with live music, all-you-can-eat buffet and a tasty treat of Jackwax (maple sugar on snow). The Maple Sugar Party is not only a fun event but a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.
I realize there are plenty of other things happening around the Adirondacks but these four events are just a sampling that can get families outside and doing things together. How you spend your time together is important, I hope I made it a bit easier for you.
Photo of family viewing maple energy-saving equipment at Toad Hill Maple Farm by Teresa Whalen
Glen Plake is skiing into Keene Valley from Chamonix, France to join The Mountaineer’s 10th annual Adirondack Back Country Ski Festival on March 3rd and 4th.
The annual charity event supports the Adirondack Ski Touring Council and the New York Ski Educational Foundation and allows back country ski enthusiasts a chance to demo equipment take clinics and enjoy an evening with Glen Plake on Saturday night at the Keene Central School’s “Beaver Dome” in Keene Valley at 7:30 pm. Plake will be here compliments of Julbo, the glacier and fashion sun glass company. Other sponsors who are supporting the event and providing raffle items for Saturday night include Back Country Ski magazine, Dynafit, Primaloft, Voile-USA, Marmot, Madshus, Garmont, Scarpa, Mammut, G3, and adkbcski.com. A ski tour and Intermediate and Advanced back country ski clinics are guided by Cloudsplitter Mountain Guides of Keene Valley.
The event’s sponsors will also be providing demos for on snow testing from 10 to 2:30 on Saturday. Plake will be on hand and there will be free telemark, skinning and avalanche beacon clinics. The demo event location will be announced on the 27th.
Even with the lack of winter snow we have plenty to do to keep our family active outside. We’ve managed to use our Microspikes and crampons so much on every winter hike that my children automatically grab a pair to explore the icy parts of our yard.
With the recent dumping of snow it is with great pleasure to exercise our downhill muscles and toss our Microspikes to the bottom of our bag. We’ve gone downhill skiing this winter but our outings were not met with the same enthusiasm that 16” of fresh snow can bring. For a family mountain, Old Forge’s McCauley Mountain can’t be beat. With an elevation of 2,330’ McCauley has something to offer everyone in our family.
The terrain park is the first thing we see as we pull into the parking area but we quickly pass it to the lifts and make the most of the day. There is one double chairlift and one T-Bar that access all 20 trails and a Rope Tow for the Mighty Mite. The second T-Bar is at the terrain park area. My kids are well past the Mighty Mite but it is still sweet to see that special place right in the middle of the mountain for those beginner skiers.
There is also the spectacular view of the Fulton Chain of Lakes. The Fulton Chain of Lakes is a portion of a river system that extends to Lake Ontario and was first dammed in the late 1700s. According to the Fulton Chain of Lakes Association the present dam at Old Forge holds back 6.8 billion gallons of water. Lower Fulton Chain starts at Old Forge Pond and travels to First Lake, Second, Third, Fourth Lakes to the Towns of Eagle Bay and Inlet and ending sequentially with Eighth Lake.
If you still have time or energy after riding the lift, there are 20 km of XC ski trails that can be accessed right at the base of the main lodge. For the month of March you can access the trails for free.
With March coming in “like a lion” we are looking forward to making the most out of the rest of this Adirondack ski season. Don’t forget that every Friday is “Crazy” at McCauley with $12 lift tickets.
McCauley Mountain is located in the center of Old Forge. From Route 28 (Main Street) follow the signs to McCauley Mountain. The road is very well marked. McCauley Mountain is located at 30 McCauley Road in Old Forge.
A weekend open house to the New York State owned Camp Santanoni is a great reason to get us to strap on our cross-country skis and hit the backcountry for a family outing. The other reason is there is snow and plenty of it in Newcomb. We leave Saranac Lake and the sky is blue and clear. The conditions are more spring skiing than what we have come to expect at the end of February. It is a perfect day.
I make my family visit the stone gatehouse at the entrance to Camp Santanoni in Newcomb but no one wants to linger. They are impatient to hit the trail. It is a busy day due to the Adirondack Architectural Heritage Open House weekend. Normally the Great Camp buildings are closed but today, tours will be given so we get a property history, explore the buildings and a great easy ski. After registering we take off. The trail in is actually the 4.7-mile carriage road leading past the original farm to the Great Camp. It was described to me as relatively flat but I found it to be more aptly defined as gently rolling. There are definite uphill climbs but everything still falls under the category of an easy beginner ski.
Since I’m the slowest skier in the family, my kids wait for me at various intersections and landmarks. I come to the farm at one mile and they are already playing around the stone dairy and over to the remains of the burned barn. (A couple passing by mourn the loss of the barn, which burned in 2004. They had not been back since and are shocked to not see it still standing.) We continue our ski and make it to the Great Camp in less than two hours.
Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) Executive Director Steven Engelhart starts flipping through old photographs documenting much of the history of this New York State owned Great Camp while my family enjoys lunch at one of the picnic tables provided on the connecting porches. We learn an abbreviated history of the Albany banker Robert Pruyn’s (Prīne) vision to be a gentleman farmer and his wife Anna’s quest for a rustic retreat, which combined to form Great Camp Santanoni in the 1890s.
My children are more interested in Pruyn’s interest in Japanese architecture based on his two-year stay in Japan as secretary to his father, an ambassador appointed under President Lincoln. During the talking points we gather it is believed that the Main Camp architecture of Santanoni was designed to resemble a bird in flight, with its Great Room and single roof forming the bird’s body and the connecting porches forming the wings.
My family leaves the tour when Engelhart mentioned hot chocolate is available at the nearby Artist’s Studio. I continue on the tour and it is easy to image a family being comfortable and enjoying the same outdoor activities we still do today.
There are no plans or need to make Great Camp Santanoni anything more than what it already is, a beautiful year-round destination to Newcomb Lake and a glimpse into a piece of Adirondack history.
Camp Santanoni is open year-round to non-motorized use. It has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 2000. Since AARCH’s intervention in 1991 the boathouse has been completely renovated and the many connecting porches were replaced as well as other structural improvements. The trail is accessible in summer by horse and wagon as well used by hikers and mountain bikers.
Yes, it’s been a bad winter for skiers, but it’s not all bad. People are skiing, though their options are limited by the shortage of snow.
The best skiing seems to be at the two extremes: on high slopes or on mellow terrain. For a sample of what the elite skiers are doing, check out the videos on Drew Haas’s website Adirondack Backcountry Skiing. If you’re not into skiing slides or other gnarly terrain, your best bets will be former truck trails, old woods roads, frozen ponds, and other smooth, flat terrain. You can find an account of one such trip in the March/April issue of the Adirondack Explorer: a round-trip to Raquette Falls. Click here to read the story.
That said, I had two good outings on intermediate terrain within the past week. On Sunday, I skied from Whiteface Inn Road in Lake Placid to the top of McKenzie Pass on the Jackrabbit Trail. The cover was excellent, but I understand conditions on the Saranac Lake side of the pass are not so good.
On Tuesday, I skied to Avalanche Lake from South Meadow Road. Again, the cover was good except on parts of the Marcy Dam Truck Trail. Click here to read a more detailed report and view a video of my descent of Avalanche Pass.
For other backcountry options, check out Tony Goodwin’s ski report, which is updated a few times a week, and also Adirondack Almanack‘s Thursday afternoon Outdoor Conditions Report, which often includes suggestions for areas outside the Lake Placid area.
Of course, you can always visit one of the Adirondack Park’s cross-country-ski centers if the backcountry isn’t an option. Despite the low snow, Rick Karlin reports in the Explorer that the Nordic centers are open for business, thanks in part to good grooming. Click here to read Karlin’s story.
Finally, if all else fails, you might try to imitate the guy in this video (one of the best ski videos I’ve seen).
Photo by Phil Brown: A skier on the trail to Raquette Falls.
With all 28 trails open on its 287 acres, the New Land Trust (NLT) in Saranac is ready for their 2nd annual Chili Fest and Pot Luck on Saturday, February 18th.
“Trail conditions are hard-packed and icy in spots,” says NLT Board Member Douglas Yu. “We do have a solid-base. Snowshoes would be perfect, especially if venturing off-trail. We consistently have plentiful snow. Our unique location at the foot of Lyon Mt makes this possible. Even we have been impacted by the general lack of snow this year.” The Chili Fest and Potluck is termed as “super casual” where visitors come and share a noon meal and utilize the free trail system. There is an opportunity to compete in a chili cook-off and enjoy a bonfire that evening. Two dual-use trails, two information kiosks, a snowshoe-only trail, and a bridge on Nightrider are just some of the new improvements to enjoy. Yu encourages newcomers to use the upcoming Chili Fest as an introduction to the New Land Trust.
Yu admits to seeing wild turkey as well as and the usual chickadees, woodpeckers, and occasional Ruffed Grouse as well as tracks from hare and deer while skiing the trails.
Fundraising for this community-based project still continues for the Clubhouse roof but a newly donated woodstove and picnic area make the Clubhouse a cozy place to stop and relax.
“The New Land Trust is entirely supported by generous donations from our members, users, and friends. In addition, we are also grateful for the many hundreds of volunteer hours given for trail work and other infrastructure maintenance,” says Yu. “We appreciate any support we get, but visiting is always free.”
NLT has also found itself to be the recipient of various scouting projects. Most recently The Tree Trail Map was a Girl Scout project by Hannah Racette. The interpretive map starts at the Clubhouse building and identifies 14 different trees such as black cherry and quaking aspen and loops back to the Clubhouse. According to Yu the guide has proven to be a huge asset for school children having to complete Leaf Identification assignments. Visitors and naturalists will also find the Tree Trail Map beneficial.
The New Land Trust is currently a volunteer-run 501(c)3 organization that was founded in 1977 by SUNY Plattsburgh students as an experiment in cooperative land management. It is easy to stay within the property boundary. The New Land Trust borders Stillman Brook to the west, the railroad tracks to the northeast and 37 Road to the east.
If you need a chili recipe for the contest, here is a venison option by Adirondack Almanack contributor Annette Nielsen. Enjoy!
Photo: Skiing at New Land Trust, Saranac. Used with the permission of Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Time.
Diane Chase is the author of Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks: Your Four Season Guide to Over 300 Activities. Her second book on Family Activities is due out this summer 2012 for the Champlain Valley Region from Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga.
Despite the wet weather, the 2nd Adirondack Adaptive Nordic Ski Camp is still being held this weekend, February 3-5, 2012, in Lake Placid, NY.
This unique 3-day event will bring together new and experienced adaptive Nordic skiers from all over the country for an adaptive Nordic skiing training camp and races at the Empire State Winter Games. The camp is being organized by a partnership of local and regional organizations including Adirondack Adaptive Adventures, Mountain Orthotic and Prosthetic Services, U.S. Paralympic Nordic Team, Olympic Regional Development Authority, Northeast Passage, New England Nordic Ski Association, and Horowitz Associates, Inc. » Continue Reading.
Nordic skiers in the northern Adirondacks will want to keep Tupper Lake’s free, groomed cross-country trail system on their radar screen. Expected snowfall should have the 10k trail network skiable this weekend. The trails are located on town-owned land and can be accessed from the Tupper Lake Country Club or Big Tupper Ski Area.
Even though the trail system has been in existence for 40 years, it’s something of a well-kept secret. “We’d like to change that,” says John Gillis, one of a half dozen community volunteers who maintain the trails in winter using snowmobiles and a variety of grooming and track-setting equipment. The trail system is free of charge, open to the public 24/7 (conditions permitting) and is dog-friendly. The trail system’s website and Facebook page are updated frequently with current conditions and grooming reports. Upcoming events include:
– February 4th, 6 pm: Full Moon ski and bonfire at the Cranberry Pond Picnic Area.
– February 11th, 6 pm: Skiing with the Stars. If the night is clear a telescope will be set up.
– February 18th, 10 am: Lumberjack Scramble Ski Race.
– February 25th, 6 pm: Skiing with the Stars. If the night is clear a telescope will be set up.
– March 2nd, 6 pm: Winterfest Bonfire at Cranberry Pond.
Jeff Farbaniec is an avid telemark skier and a 46er who writes The Saratoga Skier & Hiker, a blog of his primarily Adirondack outdoor adventures.
The Chili Ski and Snowshoe Fest will take place on January 28 no matter the weather conditions, according to Paul Smith’s College VIC Interpretive Naturalist Educator Sarah Keyes.
The event will be jammed with family-friendly activities such as a modified “poker run” where kids will search on skis for animal cards and an obstacle course. There are also kids’ freestyle ski races, a bird walk and a snowshoe stampede. “Paul Smith’s College Culinary and Bakery students will create three different types of chili as well as bread and some baked goods, “says Keyes. “All the outside snow-related activities will be covered with the purchase of a VIC day pass but there are some events happening at the VIC which are free.”
According to Keyes Mark Manske of Adirondack Raptor Center will give live birding demonstrations where people can get up close and personal to owls and hawks. Children can also always access the inside touch table. Visitors can stop by to view the ongoing art show “Winter Wonders” and the traveling exhibit “Ways of the Woods.”
“We encourage people to stop by and see all the different activities we have happening,” says Keyes. “There will be music that afternoon as well the Adult 5K ski races.”
Keyes says, “We are always open to suggestions from people regarding our programming. We are looking into do an environment book club and after the great success of our “no school” program, parents can look forward to the next session over President’s weekend vacation.”
Keyes mentions that during the Christmas holiday she prepared weekday activities for school-aged children to get kids outside and entertained. The President’s weekend format will be similar and open to locals as well as visitors during holiday weekends. Keyes recommends people calling her at 327-6241 for more information.
The Paul Smith’s College VIC Chili Ski and Snowshoe Fest will start at 10:00 a.m. with a bird walk with Adirondack Birding Center Director Brian McAllister and conclude with a backcountry ski lecture with Brian McDonnell of McDonnell’s Adirondack Challenges though the live music with the Bog Stompers and access to the VIC trails will continue until 4:00 p.m.
photo used with permission of Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Time
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH), the Town of Newcomb, and the Adirondack Ecological Center have announced that historic Camp Santanoni in Newcomb will be open for three special long “open house” weekends this winter. Over these weekends, cross-country skiers and snowshoers will be able to visit the Gatelodge and Main Lodge, get short interpretive tours with AARCH staff, and warm up at the Artist’s Studio before the return trip. These weekends will be January 14-16, February 18-20, and March 17-18. Camp Santanoni was built beginning in 1892 by Robert and Anna Pruyn and eventually consisted of more than four dozen buildings on 12,900 acres including a working farm, Gatelodge complex, and a huge rustic Main Lodge and other camp buildings situated on Newcomb Lake. Santanoni was in private ownership until 1972 and over the last several decades, in state ownership, it has gradually been restored by a partnership between NYSDEC, AARCH, and the Town of Newcomb. Santanoni is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark.
Camp Santanoni is one of the most popular cross-country ski destinations in the Adirondacks, and for good reason. The snow conditions are usually excellent, the trip itself is of only moderate intensity, and the camp on its remote lakeside setting makes for an interesting and most beautiful destination. The round-trip cross-country ski and showshoe trip is 9.8 miles on a gently sloping carriage road. People may visit Santanoni 365 days a year but these weekends are rare opportunities to visit the camp in winter, have a brief tour, and have a place to warm up.
As snow conditions so far in 2012 have been light, it is best to check in advance to make sure the road is suitable for skiing.
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