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Adirondack Explorer

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


March, 2013

Notes from the ski trail

I went backcountry skiing around Paul Smiths both days this past weekend and found the conditions outstanding, but who knows how long the snow will last. On Saturday afternoon, I skied to the summit of Jenkins Mountain, starting at Black Pond on Keese’s Mill Road. I skied across the pond, climbed over an esker, and picked up the Jenkins hiking trail. I broke trail most of the way. The sky was overcast, so the summit view was not great, but I had a blast coasting back down the mountain in my own tracks. The snow at the top was relatively >>More


March, 2013

We still need more snow

They were predicting we’d get more than six inches, perhaps a lot more. They were wrong. We got only two or three, which prettified the woods, but it wasn’t enough to turn the season around for backcountry skiers. There is still hope: the National Weather Services predicts Saranac Lake, where we’re located, could get three to five more inches over the next few days. Again, not enough to turn the season around, but we’ll take it. And who knows? Maybe this time we’ll get more than predicted. On my lunch hour, I skied the Jackrabbit Trail from McKenzie Pond Road >>More


February, 2013

Good skiing after the storm

I did two classic ski trips after last week’s snowstorm. Although we didn’t get as much snow as some had predicted, the conditions were pretty darn good. Conditions have already changed. It warmed up enough on Monday to produce a bit of rain, but it’s supposed to snow again this week. With those caveats, here is a short trip report. On Saturday, I skied the Jackrabbit Trail from McKenzie Pond Road to the top of the pass between Haystack Mountain and McKenzie Mountain. The big question was whether the long hill after McKenzie Pond (a 1.5-mile ascent) would have enough >>More


January, 2013

Skiing on Oseetah Marsh and the Jackrabbit Trail

Oseetah Marsh in winter

Oseetah Marsh just outside Saranac Lake is the destination of one of my regular lunch-hour ski trips. It’s short, easy, and scenic, with views of the McKenzie Range, the Sawtooth Range, and nearby Scarface Mountain. Today I did the trip for the first time this winter. Why did I wait so long? To get to the marsh, I follow a snowmobile trail through a beautiful pine forest. Until this afternoon, every time I reached the edge of the marsh I found a small pool of black water, bordered by very thin ice. I tried to ski the marsh as recently >>More


January, 2013

Cold no cure for slush

The temperature fell to 24 below early Thursday. Most people would not see that as good news, but backcountry skiers should. Despite the two feet of snow we received last week, we still lack midwinter conditions. On ski trips since the snowstorm, I have encountered a number of open brooks and seeping drainages. Also, slush in places. You’d think 24 below would solve that problem. To test my theory, I skied to Oseetah Lake on my lunch hour today. Starting at the Route 86 railroad crossing in Saranac Lake, I followed a snowmobile trail for a half-mile through a beautiful >>More


December, 2012

A bad week for skiers

Adirondack Visitor Interpretive Center ski trail

Last Friday I went on my first ski of the season, a long loop around Heron Marsh and over an esker at the Adirondack Visitor Interpretive Center in Paul Smiths. Although Paul Smiths is only a dozen miles from our office in Saranac Lake, it usually receives noticeably more snow. And so it was on this day: there must have been at least six inches, enough to kick and glide over the VIC’s smooth trails. I snapped the photo above near the outlet of Heron Marsh. A week later, thanks to rain and a few warm days, cross-country skiers are >>More


November, 2012

Getting psyched for the ski season

It’s starting to look a lot like winter on Baker Mountain, the little peak on the outskirts of Saranac Lake. I took the photo above a few days ago while hiking on my lunch hour. I’m already dreaming of cross-country skiing. We don’t have enough snow yet, but we should soon. One trail I’m eager to check out is the Mr. Van Ski Trail, which connects Adirondak Loj and the cross-country-ski center on Mount Van Hoevenberg. The 4.7-mile trail has been around for years, but it had become overgrown and fell into disuse. This fall, the Adirondack Ski Touring Council >>More


May, 2012

For Ron Kon, it was a good winter

ron konowitz skis mount marcy

Now we know spring is here: Ron Konowitz has stopped skiing. Most skiers probably think last winter was a lousy one, but not for Ron Kon. He skied 161 days, all in the Adirondacks. That’s every day for more than five months. “I had a good year,” Konowitz said today. “I definitely didn’t get into the backcountry as much as usual.” Konowitz did a lot of his skiing at the state-run downhill center on Whiteface Mountain. “The snowmakers did an amazing job,” he said. After Whiteface closed for the season, Konowitz would hike up the mountain and ski down the >>More


April, 2012

Worst winter ever for Jackrabbit skiers

Jackrabbit Ski Trail in Lake Placid

  How bad was this winter for backcountry skiers? It ranks as one of the worst, according to the Adirondack Ski Touring Council, which maintains the twenty-four-mile Jackrabbit Trail between Saranac Lake and Keene. Tony Goodwin, the group’s executive director, says the entire Jackrabbit was skiable for only twenty-five days this winter—by far the worst season since the trail was created in the 1980s. Previously, the worst season was 1989, when the full Jackrabbit was skiable for forty-eight days. “Our best season was 1998 when the Jackrabbit Trail was covered for 132 days,” Goodwin writes in the ASTC’s spring newsletter. >>More