Winter ended early this year, thanks to a dearth of snowfalls in March. As a skier, I was hoping April would make amends. Instead, we had several unseasonably warm days when the temperature rose well into the 70s. Nevertheless, whenever I drove around Lake Placid I could see snow in the High Peaks and felt its allure. On April 25, one of those balmy days, I set out for Mount Marcy from Adirondak Loj, carrying my skis. The trail didn’t have a trace of snow when I started out, but by the time I reached the second bridge over Phelps Brook, some 3.5 miles from the Loj, snow was everywhere. I put on my skis, with nylon climbing skins on the bottoms, and kept them on until I reached the top. The last signpost, about a half-mile from the summit, was still nearly buried in snow. It was a spectacular day, clear and sunny, and yet I had the place to myself–a rare treat on the state’s highest mountain. I ate lunch, devoured the views, and headed down. I’ve had more enjoyable descents–the snow oscillated from sticky to boilerplate–but backcountry skiing isn’t all about the skiing. It’s about getting out there. I have little doubt that some diehards will be skiing in May.
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