February, 2017

Dreaming Of Skiing Mount Marcy Again

Last week we enjoyed the best backcountry-ski conditions we’ve had in a while. I am using the editorial we; I didn’t enjoy them because I was sick all week. By Saturday, I was feeling good enough to venture out to Dewey Mountain for a few hours, where my girlfriend Carol and I explored the ungroomed trails near the summit. Unfortunately, the temperature that day soared well above freezing, and so the fluffy powder that fell last week had consolidated into mashed potatoes. Still, I was glad to be skiing at all. The next day we skied on a snowmobile trail in Wilmington on >>More


January, 2017

A Frustrating Winter For Backcountry Skiers

It’s been another frustrating winter for backcountry skiers. We haven’t had a big storm. Just as the snow starts to build up, we’re hit with a rainy thaw. That was the case again this week. Following an icy rain, we got a few inches of heavy, wet snow in Saranac Lake. This afternoon I skied the trails at Dewey Mountain Recreation Center to check out the conditions. The groomed trails on the lower slopes were in fine shape, as expected, but I was more interested in the ungroomed trails at the top, which are one indication of backcountry conditions. Again, no >>More


January, 2017

Powder Play In The Five Ponds Wilderness

I have not been delighted with the skiing conditions in the Lake Placid area this winter. There is decent snow, especially at higher elevations, but we haven’t had a big storm. As a result, rocky trails at lower elevations often lack adequate cover. And so last weekend I found myself driving west in search of deep powder. I found it in the Five Ponds Wilderness. My girlfriend Carol and I skied from Wanakena, a hamlet on the Oswegatchie River, to Glasby Pond about five miles away. As soon as we hit the trail, we were in heaven. Snow weighed down >>More


December, 2016

The Powder Is Gone, But We Still Have A Good Base

On Saturday, my girlfriend Carol and I skied up the unplowed Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway. From the tollbooth to the end of the road it’s a 5.4-mile climb, long but not very steep. It took us roughly three hours. Of course, the descent is the fun part. It normally takes less than an hour. Because there was so much powder, our downhill run took a little longer. In places, the skiing was almost too mellow, especially between the two hairpin turns. Often we pushed with our poles to sustain momentum. Since this was Carol’s first time skiing the highway, this >>More


April, 2015

Yes, It’s April, But Don’t Put Away Skis Yet

It may be April, but there’s still skiing to be had in the backcountry. On Tuesday morning I skied to the top of Dewey Mountain outside Saranac Lake and enjoyed a fun run down in virtually midwinter conditions. Last weekend, Carol MacKinnon Fox and I skied over the summit of Mount Van Hoevenberg and found plenty of snow on the descent. There also was plenty of snow last weekend on the Mr. Van Trail in the High Peaks Wilderness. I hear the conditions at higher elevations were fantastic. The Adirondack Ski Touring Council reports there is still five to six >>More


January, 2015

Backcountry-Ski Conditions Still Getting Better

On Friday afternoon I checked out the cross-country trails at Dewey Mountain in Saranac Lake. As expected, the groomed trails were in fine shape, but I was more interested in the ungroomed, rougher trails that lead to the top of the mountain as they more closely mirror conditions likely to be found on many backcountry trails. I hadn’t been on Dewey’s ungroomed trails in several weeks due to a dearth of snow. In the past week, however, we had a few light snowfalls (including two or three inches in the past 24 hours), so I figured they’d be skiable. And >>More


February, 2014

Fresh Powder Just What Jackrabbit Trail Needed

We got a few inches of fresh powder overnight and may get an additional four to nine inches before the day is done. Let’s hope the forecast is on target. Before work, I went for a short ski on the Jackrabbit Trail outside Saranac Lake. Starting on McKenzie Pond Road, I made first tracks to the top of the small hill just beyond McKenzie Pond, a round trip of a little more than four miles. With the snow we got last night and over the weekend, the skiing was much better than it was a few weeks ago. In a >>More


January, 2014

Fresh snow helps, but we need more

We got several inches of light snow over the weekend, so I went to the Jackrabbit Trail on my lunch hour 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 >>More


January, 2014

Western Adirondacks Best Bet For Nordic Skiers

The Tug Hill region east of Lake Ontario got clobbered by a lake-effect snowstorm Tuesday.  I was hoping we’d get a decent snowfall in Saranac Lake, but we received little more than dusting. The woods on Baker Mountain looked pretty this morning, but they would have made for ugly skiing. The western Adirondacks, however, picked up several inches of fresh snow. Chris Tapper, business manager of Mountainman Outdoor Supply Company in Old Forge, said the Old Forge area got about five inches of light snow. The area now has about eight inches on the ground, and Tapper said most trails >>More


April, 2013

A plea to hikers: don’t post-hole

On Saturday I skied Mount Marcy and was surprised at how good the snow conditions were. I began at the start of South Meadow Road and had to take my skis off only once, on a fifty-yard stretch of the Marcy Dam Truck Trail. To be sure, the trails were hard and sometimes icy on the approach to Marcy Dam and the first mile or so beyond, but above “50-Meter Bridge” (the second crossing of Phelps Brook), there was good snow: packed powder, with fluffier stuff outside the well-trodden track. Somewhat surprisingly, given the gorgeous day, I saw no other >>More


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