When I got up Thursday morning, my weather app claimed it was 18 degrees below zero in Saranac Lake. Though skeptical, I’ll concede that it was damn cold when I stepped outside.
I had to drive to Malone to look over court documents filed in the lawsuit over the state’s plan to split the state-owned Adirondack Rail Corridor into a rail segment and a trail segment.
As I approached Paul Smiths, I passed Church Pond—a beautiful sheet of white beneath a brilliant blue sky. I promised myself I’d stop on the way back and go for a ski.
After a few subzero nights this week, I figured the ice would be safe. When I skied onto the pond’s frozen surface, I was surprised that the snow was about eight inches deep. Snow can insulate ice from the cold, so this worried me a little. I dug through the snow and stabbed the ice hard with my ski pole. It seemed solid.
The snow was hard packed. Despite its depth, I sank only a few inches as I skied across the pond. Conditions were about perfect.
I crossed the pond, skied along the shore into the larger lobe of Church, and then entered Little Osgood Pond. The two are connected by a hand-dug canal. The canal, too, was frozen solid. A second canal connects Little Osgood and Osgood Pond. The canals were dug in the 1800s so summer residents on Osgood Pond could row or paddle to church in Paul Smiths on Sundays.
Touring these charming ponds, I thought to myself that this would have been a great day for pond skiing in the St. Regis Canoe Area. I wondered if I should go there this weekend.
When I got back to the office, I checked the weather forecast. Unfortunately, conditions are going to worsen. It snowed this morning, but it’s supposed to warm later today and start raining. And rain is forecast every day throughout the weekend and early next week. Even if the ice remains safe, the snow will be slushy. If you nevertheless venture onto ponds, make sure the ice is strong.
If you’re heading anywhere in the backcountry this weekend, be sure to check out the conditions report on Adirondack Almanack.