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Adirondack Explorer

November, 2018

Battle over Old Mountain Road may be settled

When Jim McCulley drove his snowmobile on Old Mountain Road in 2003, he touched off a series of court battles that lasted fifteen years. For now, at least, the legal saga appears to have ended.


July, 2018

DEC responds to backcountry skiers’ concerns

backcountry skier

Backcountry skiers have long complained that state agencies have given them short shrift when it comes to accommodating their sport in the Forest Preserve. One major complaint is that years ago the state Department of Environmental Conservation transformed part of the Wright Peak Ski Trail into a hiking trail; the subsequent narrowing and eroding of the trail has rendered it often unsuitable for skiing. In proposed changes to the High Peaks Wilderness management plan, DEC aims to address the problem by rerouting the lower part of the ski trail away from the hiking trail. The department also proposes a number >>More


May, 2018

DEC hopes to reroute Wright Peak Ski Trail

Several years ago we skied two High Peaks in spring with Ron Konowitz. We did a few laps in the bowl on Algonquin Peak, climbed over Wright Peak, and descended the Wright Peak Ski Trail. The Wright Peak trail is one of the few trails designed for down-mountain skiing in the Adirondacks. It was built in the 1930s, fell into disuse, and then was restored in 1980s by volunteers, including Tony Goodwin, the longtime executive director of the Adirondack Ski Touring Council. But there was a problem. After a mile or so, the ski trail converged with the Algonquin hiking >>More


March, 2018

Skiing Mount Marcy’s summit in a whiteout

Mount Marcy skiing

I try to ski Mount Marcy every year around my birthday (March 30), and so I did the trip Thursday with Brian Mann of North Country Public Radio. It was the first time I skied the summit in a whiteout. The weather was mild and overcast when we started up the Van Hoevenberg Trail from the High Peaks Information Center. There was plenty of snow on the trail. Because we haven’t had a snowfall in a while, the trail was packed down hard, but the surface was soft, even grabby. We stopped at Indian Falls, about halfway to the summit. >>More


March, 2018

Superb backcountry skiing near Lake Placid

Recent snowstorms dropped a foot or so of powder in much of the Adirondacks. Starting Friday, we skied three consecutive days in the backcountry. And on Monday, we hit up Dewey Mountain in Saranac Lake before reluctantly reporting for work. Needless to say, the backcountry skiing was pretty fantastic. The one word of caution is that many rivulets remain open as a result of the thaw before the snowstorms. I’ve attached photos from our ski trips to give you an idea of conditions in the greater Lake Placid region. On Friday, my friend Tim and I skied in the Stephenson >>More


March, 2018

Whiteface to host Ski Mountaineering Classic

Whiteface Ski Area

For the third winter in a row, the Mountaineer has had to cancel its annual backcountry ski festival due to a lack of snow. The Keene Valley store had planned to hold the festival this weekend. As usual, a variety of backcountry ski tours and clinics were on the schedule. Ironically, the region is seeing some snow today after a prolonged thaw. “You can’t get frustrated; it’s the weather,” said Dustin Ulrich, a Mountaineer worker. “You can’t do much about that.” Ulrich said the Mountaineer staff plans to discuss whether or how to continue the ski festival in the future. >>More


January, 2018

Skiing the Jackrabbit Trail to McKenzie Pond

Jackrabbit Ski Trail

On Saturday I set out to ski the two miles to McKenzie Pond on the popular Jackrabbit Trail. However, the sign at the trail warned that a bridge over McKenzie Brook was “flooded and impassable.” I knew that the bridge had been a few feet underwater after a recent thaw, but that was a week ago. I wanted to see for myself if the bridge was still impassable. So I stuck with my plan. Earlier in the week, I had skied a few times at Dewey Mountain and enjoyed down-mountain runs in dry powder. On Saturday, alas, the temperature had >>More


January, 2018

Backcountry-ski conditions about to deteriorate

backcountry skiing

I just got back from touring the Andalusia region of southern Spain with Carol Fox and my daughter Martha. On one day we took a wonderful hike into the Sierra Nevada where we saw goats roaming the treeless hills. Although the mountains are not far from the Mediterranean Sea, they are snow-capped. The highest top 10,000 feet. I wore a T-shirt on that hike. I felt a little guilty about soaking up the sun while friends back home, especially in the Adirondacks, were suffering through below-zero days. OK, so I didn’t feel guilty. However, as I perused posts on Facebook, >>More


November, 2017

Thaw thwarts Adirondack backcountry skier

McKenzie Range

How things changed in a day for backcountry skiers. On Monday, I enjoyed a cruise through fresh powder on the Bloomingdale Bog Trail. It was nice and cold. On Tuesday, it warmed considerably, so I figured I’d try the trail to Moose Pond, another early-season favorite. Because it’s in the woods, I hoped the trail would keep the snow from the day before. It proved to be a fool’s errand. The trail is an old woods road that doesn’t need a lot of snow to be skiable. But it does need more than the inch or two that survived the >>More


November, 2017

An early-season ski in the Adirondacks

Bloomingdale Bog Trail

We got three to four inches of snow Sunday night, just enough to lure me out of the office for a backcountry ski on my lunch hour on Monday afternoon. I went to the Bloomingdale Bog Trail, an old railroad bed that needs only a few inches to be skiable. The base was thin, but overall the skiing was quite good. The trail starts off Route 86 outside Saranac Lake and extends about eight miles to Onchiota. On Monday, I skied about two miles up the trail, just far enough to get a good view of the bog, and then >>More