Winter Vacation in Westport

Crystal forestFamily Fun along the Adirondack Coast

Here's a little chronicle of my family's recent picks of outdoor fun.  When you have ice you have to go with it.

Most of what we love is free and local, making for easy, family vacation time. Despite cold temperatures we needed to get outside and exercise to justify our caloric intake (!).  You all know what I mean.

The day before Christmas was super icy so we opted for a hike on--what else--a nearby CATS trail. The Woods and Swale Trail is near the house and very dog friendly so the girls and a cousin took two dogs for a tromp.  We went with snowshoes but would have been better off in spikes--the snow was hard and loud.  But the ice coating on everything in the forest was gorgeous.  The girls took lots of photos to post and share.  Ice photography
Not much in the way of animal tracks but some sign of foraging, which is very tough with such an icy surface. The dogs were skittering in all directions.  Later in the week the vet told me that he's treated a lot of dogs for hip and leg injuries from slipping on the ice!

Christmas day was sunny and as icy as the day before.  We got dinner started, bundled up in layers and drove up the Mountain Spring Road to the Fish and Game Club.  We passed Harry Sherman on the road, walking silently beneath the tall canopy of snow-covered hemlocks.  He wished us a Merry Christmas with the gentle smile of a satisfied man who loves the woods in winter. 

Once out of the car, breath freezing on our eyelashes, we quickly began up the Pinnacle, another easy  CATS trail. The snow was still hard and loud.  We kept moving to stay warm.  The girls peeled beech leaves from ice layers that left perfect glass-like molds. Leaves of ice

The trail is short and not too steep and the whole forest twinkled as we passed the beaver pond and turned toward the view. And what a view.  Icy cold but still familiar and intimate in its own way. The Champlain Valley and Northwest Bay.  A few quick photos and back for hot cocoa. Christmas view from Pinnacle

Thursday brought adventure--tubing in Ballard Park. The icy layer had a skiff on snow on top, making the hillside treacherous but thrilling.  We have big tubes that cushioned the rubble where feet had broken through the ice on top.  Beneath the ice the snow was dry and crystalized into fast lanes that headed straight down the hill.  The girls made hilarious selfies of death-defying runs that rivalled bobsleddding for time and speed.  I was relieved that the fun lasted long enough to expend a lot of energy but not long enough for anyone to get hurt. Snow tubes

Friday the pick was ice skating. We've been waiting for lake skating but the conditions nearby weren't ready yet so we headed to the Olympic Oval in Lake Placid.  Snow was falling and music was playing and families were laughing. Young skaters were sliding deftly between old-timers who rocked their way gracefully around the track like dancers.  It took the girls a few times around to regain the feel of the ice but soon enough they were being silly for the camera on steady legs. Skating the Oval

The girls and all the guests are gone now but can't wait to come back before the winter is over.  With fewer social occasions, better snow conditions and longer blocks of time we will cross-country and downhill ski later in the winter.

Birding Around Crown Point
Snowy New Year