Nemo, as the most recent snowstorm was named, brought wide-ranging amounts of snow to the Adirondacks. On the Adirondack Coast of Lake Champlain, reports ranged from 5 inches to a foot. Where I live, we received about 10 inches of white, fluffy trail covering.
Today began at freeze-your-fingers temps and was predicted to rise to about 20 degrees Fahrenheit, so I waited for it to be right in between the two, and packed my cross country skis and my dog for a short workout on our favorite local trail, the Hidden Quarry Trail.
The trail is one of the newest in the Champlain Area Trails (CATS) network, and just 2 miles from my house. It consists of a couple of loops through wooded areas that connect to trails neatly cut in meadow-like areas, and are all adjacent to an open field.
On one of the wooded trail sections, there is a hidden quarry. So they named it appropriately.
All of the loops here are rated "easy", so I like to use it as a trail run (or as it should be more accurately described in my case, a trail r-alk.) in warmer weather.
On this post-blizzard day in February, I decided to take my cross country skis, rather than my snowshoes, knowing that I'd likely be breaking trail, and that on this fairly flat terrain, it would be my pleasure to do so.
It's tricky this time of year to park; there is a private road just south of the actual trailhead that is plowed more regularly, and offers an alternative access trail - so we parked near there.
My dog, Katie and I got out of our car and I donned my skis to start out on the open field toward the more protected trails. There was no one else around, so I let Katie run free ahead of me.
The wind had swirled and packed the snow into wonderful wavy patterns and unpredictable depths. My skis sliced through the deeper sections and floated atop the thinner, harder portions. Katie bounded and raced directly to the trailhead; after all, she knows this place like the back of her paw.
Once I reached the trail sign that marked the southern end of the loops, I descended on the only real elevation change aside from the wooded sections. And I planned to stay in the open trail areas today, rather than navigate through the narrower, potentially rocky terrain in the woods.
Katie stopped at every junction where the option to join the wooded sections occurred and waited to see which way I skied. We traversed through what I know is nicely cut grassy areas in warm weather. At one point, we crossed what is a typically a very wet area - but today was bare ice. I continued, and slowly broke trail until we reached the edge of the field farther north.
I jumped out onto the main drag along the edge of the big field, and headed north to the primary trailhead, so that we could sign the register. Having completed that task, I decided to return to the car by following my now packed trail, rather than continuing back along the edge of the big field all the way.
This went much more quickly. Kicking and gliding, I soon found myself back at that icy spot once again - but now, only minutes after I'd previously crossed it - my tracks had filled in with a bit of slush. Climate change, I guess. (The temps were only near 20 now, but the sun in this protected area had it's way with the snow.)
Water is the enemy of waxed skis - and has to be avoided or I'd have snow stuck to my skis and lose my ability to glide. I chose to make new tracks, quickly traverse across the glare (now softening) ice and quickly get back onto my tracks in the "dry" snow.
All that was left was to climb the one hill back to the open field on the southern end of the trail network, and head back to the car.
A nice, short jaunt on a gorgeous, blue sky day in the valley. There is no big summit with a view, but this fairly easy series of loop is perfect for a family-friendly outing. I recommend it as a wonderful stroll through a mix of pine needle-blanketed woods and grassy fields in summer, and ski-friendly trails in winter. If you don't believe me, just ask Katie.
-Kim Rielly is the director of communication for the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism.