Getting psyched for the ski season

Snow blankets the woods on Baker Mountain in Saranac Lake. Photo by Phil Brown.

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 (ASTC) cleared and clipped the entire trail from the Loj to Hi-Notch at the boundary of the ski center.

However, Mr. Van is not an early-season ski. For one thing, it needs ten to twelve inches of snow to be skiable, according to Tony Goodwin, ASTC’s executive director. For another, it crosses Marcy Brook and South Meadow Brook. Bridges washed out long ago, so this is a trip best done in midwinter after the streams are frozen solid.

“What is required at both,” Goodwin says, “is a large, tall crib filled with rocks so that it can withstand the periodic floods. So far, no one has been willing to invest that much time and effort.”

Since ASTC’s work, Mr. Van has been outfitted with new DEC ski-trail markers.

Backcountry skiers will be pleased to hear that ASTC’s volunteers also clipped the top of the Wright Peak Ski Trail this fall. No longer will skiers have to run a narrow gantlet of branches from the summit cone to the point where the steep descent begins. In its final preseason project, the group rebuilt a bridge on the Jackrabbit Trail near Craig Wood Golf Course.

Incidentally, be sure to check out ASTC’s new website. Among other things, you’ll find a map and description of the Jackrabbit Trail and updated ski conditions.

In anticipation of snowier days ahead, we offer the following links to our reviews of ski gear:

Best Backcountry Skiing in the Northeast. A guide to ski adventures in the Adirondacks and New England.

Madshus Epochs. A versatile backcountry ski that doesn’t need wax.

Swix Blue Extra. If you wax your skis, this is the first kick wax to get.

Zippered Sequence T-Shirt. A great base-layer shirt for skiers.

Exos Beanie. A cool hat to keep your head warm.

About Phil Brown

Phil Brown edited the Adirondack Explorer from 1999 until his retirement in 2018. He continues to explore the park and to write for the publication and website.

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