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Adirondack Explorer

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Backcountry Skiing Is Improving


The Jackrabbit Trail above Whiteface Inn Lane in Lake Placid. (Photo by Phil Brown)

Backcountry skiing has improved in the Adirondacks since the Great Thaw in late December, but we still don’t have as much snow as we’d like for mid-January.

Shortly after Christmas, Carol Fox and I “skied” the hill above Whiteface Inn Lane on the Jackrabbit Trail. There were so many exposed rocks and so much open drainage that Carol removed her skis for much of the descent. I kept mine on, but not without inflicting a few scratches on my boards.

When I skied the same hill on Tuesday afternoon, it was fully covered, with a few inches of fresh powder over a decent base. My poles did strike a few rocks on the ascent. Ideally, the rocks would be covered with more snow, but they didn’t give me any problems on the way down.

Check out the Jackrabbit website for conditions on the entire trail, which stretches 24 miles from Saranac Lake to Keene. There also is a separate section in Paul Smith’s. The site also provides into on backcountry conditions in the Lake Placid area and the High Peaks.

Last weekend, Carol and I drove to Wanakena to ski in the Five Ponds Wilderness. It turned out to be a good choice: there was at least a foot of snow in the woods. We skied to Glasby Pond via the Dead Creek Truck Trail and Cowhorn Junction Trail. Conditions were generally excellent, except for a few exposed rocks.

Both the Cranberry Lake/Wanakena region and the Old Forge region benefited from lake-effect storms last week.

Ponds remain a good choice when snow cover is low. Around New Year’s, Carol and I also enjoyed a couple of wonderful ski tours in the St. Regis Canoe Area and in the Fish Creek Ponds region. Skiers must be sure the ice is safe. It should be at least three or four inches thick. And bear in mind that ice is thinner where there is current—at outlets, inlets, and bottlenecks.


Phil Brown

Contributor Phil Brown was editor of the Adirondack Explorer from 1999-2018. When he isn't at his desk, he's usually out hiking, paddling, skiing, or doing something else important.

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