As often as possible I like to pay tribute to telemark skiing’s nordic roots by getting away from the lifts for a day of cross country skiing. Sometimes that means a backcountry day, other times it means hitting one of the groomed cross country touring centers. Today, we headed up to the Olympic cross country ski trails at Mount VanHoevenberg in Lake Placid, where snow conditions have been excellent over the past few weeks.
Driving towards Lake Placid, as we ascended Cascade Pass we entered a winter wonderland of snow covered trees. With deep blue skies, no wind, and moderate temperatures in the mid-20s, we had scored a spectacularly beautiful day for outdoor activity.
At the ski center we found 12 to 16 inches of settled powder snow in the woods, more than enough for the groomers to pack and track all 50k of trails. After booting up in the lodge, we headed out for one of our favorite routes, the Porter Mountain Loops.
The Loops take nordic skiers on a 15K (9 miles) circuit deep into the woods bordering the High Peaks Wilderness area. The Loops are fun, rolling trails with steep climbs followed by long, gliding descents. Due to the distance, the Loops require a level of commitment most casual skiers are unwilling to make, so we saw just a few other skiers.
With excellent snow conditions today, the snow felt almost silk-like under our skis. In extremely cold conditions, which I’ve experienced more than once at Mount Van Hoevenberg, the snow crystals actually become sharp and abrasive, producing slow conditions. But with temperatures in the mid-20s today, the snow was soft but still fast.
We were also able to ski the East Mountain Loop and Ladies' 5k, making a full day of skiing. It's pretty difficult to capture the fun of gliding through the woods with still images, maybe the short video above will help encourage those who love snow but haven't really tried cross country skiing to give it a shot.