I work at home when I’m not in the field, and a day at my desk in a drafty corner can make me hunch and shiver and cramp. I need a break and even the shortest of ski outings can increase productivity and improve my frame of mind. The lack of snow this week was a challenge, but I was successful in finding two great snowy destinations that fit my schedule and my level of inspiration.
Hidden Quarry Trail
On Thursday I had a full day of paperwork with several deadlines. I worked hard from 8-2 but then really needed a break. I live a few miles from the Hidden Quarry Trail, about a mile-and-a-half south of Westport on Rte 22, and hadn’t been there this winter. Expecting thin patches, especially in the forested section, I brought my “rock skis.” These are the skis I don’t mind getting roughed up by rocks and sticks when there isn't much snow—I got them at a yard sale for $20 about 15 years ago and they are my go-to, keep-handy-at-all-times pair that go everywhere.
Although the snow cover was thin there were snowstorms earlier this winter, and I needed a place where there wasn’t a snowbank prohibiting me from parking. The entrance to the Hidden Quarry Trail is off a driveway that has seen some recent use and there were no snow banks left by the snowplow so I was in luck.
When I got out of the car the temperature was 9 degrees. That fact, in combination with the slight pressure of the unfinished items on my desk, put a 30-45 minute trip in mind. Taking off from the car I signed in and glided along the hedgerow at the edge of the field for 100 yards and then turned into the woods. I had a little maneuvering to do among the trees but nothing too serious. There were animal tracks everywhere, which continued to be the case throughout my outing since there hadn’t been new snow for several days.
The trail follows a fence line briefly and then comes out into an overgrown meadow with cedars and pines that have been filling in the old pasture. The sunlight through the trees was gentle but not warm enough to make a dent in the cold. In one place the trail crosses a low spot where water pools and there was a little ice to cross but nothing deep enough to be concerned about.
Somewhere there is a history book or a business ledger that explains the old quarry remains around the corner. There are several stone and concrete ramparts that look like underpinnings for moving or loading whatever was dug out of the quarry. The quarry hole itself is full of water that was frozen. Animal tracks circled the periphery. If there hadn’t been snow this would make a fun, secret skating pond.
The trail pops over the hill and descends back down to the field where there was a nice fox track along the edge, complete with several scent marks of interest to my dog. The snow was several inches deep where the wind had blown across the field, allowing me to get some longer glides. It was 19 degrees by the time I returned to the car. About 35 minutes including pictures—a very satisfying break for a short loop.
Nichols Pond Road
On Saturday I got my chores done early, and despite those ongoing deadlines, I took an hour to go find some more skiing. Wanting more snow than I’d had on Thursday I headed to the Nichols Pond Road, an unmaintained road above the Westport Fish and Game Club, about 1.5 miles up the Mountain Spring Road.
The base was even harder than what I’d found on Hidden Quarry but there was a skiff of powder and an enticing sunny, unplowed road to tackle. Although the temperature was 5 degrees on my departure, within five minutes I had warmed up and was unzipping around the edges. A four-wheeler had been up the road before I had and the tracks made perfect trails for my dog, minimizing the snowballs that usually accumulate on her hairy feet.
I skied by some blow down that had been cleared, a wide icy patch where water had come over the road at one point, and a few snow-covered landings from recent logging work. Gradually the powder on top increased to about two inches. Great for gliding over the hard base.
I climbed for about 35 minutes until I reached the gate into the Nichols Pond Association and stopped to enjoy the sunshine. It’s amazing how sunshine can make you feel warm even if the temperature is in the single digits. Mountain Spring Road goes all the way to Mineville, near Bartlett Pond, and would make an outstanding full day ski. I wanted to continue but instead I zipped up and double poled my way down, trying to avoid my dog who should know better than to run in front of skis. No harm done and we made it back to the car in 25 minutes for a total outing of an hour. Temperature was 8 degrees when we got to the car. Back to errands and chores in hopes of some deeper snow soon.
Ski The Adirondack Coast
Thinking about planning a winter visit to the Lake Champlain Region? Check out all of our great lodging options, then browse our nearby snowshoe and cross country ski trails - we're sure to have something that suits your style. Maybe you'd rather try ice-fishing? Whatever your outdoor activity preference, don't forget to indulge in a hot drink and tasty meal to warm up after your day on the trails or skating on the Lake.