Friday, February 24, 2012

Mount Van Hoevenberg XC: 02/23/2012

One of the things I’ve missed in this nearly snowless winter has been the ability to grab my XC skis and head out for an hour or two in the woods that surround our house. In recent years, those out-the-back-door tours have made up a significant portion of my nordic skiing, as dragging the kids along for a full day outing to a place like Garnet Hill Lodge or Lapland Lake doesn’t fit our family well – at least not yet.

Snow-covered trees line the entrance to Mount Van Hoevenberg cross-country center, Feb. 23, 2012.

The Saratoga Skier and Hiker, first-hand accounts of adventures in the Adirondacks and beyond, and Gore Mountain ski blog.

In need of a nordic fix, Beth and I planned a day for the kids to be with the grandparents so we could head over to Lapland Lake, where grooming and their favored location for snow have allowed reasonably good skiing on nearly 100% of their trail system for the past six weeks or so. By contrast, Mount Van Hoevenberg has been plagued by thin cover, limited terrain and even occasional closures this season. But the plan changed early yesterday morning, when a quick check on conditions showed 5 inches of new snow overnight at Mount Van Hoevenberg, nada at Lapland Lake. New snow trumps a shorter drive, so we pointed the car north.

New snow and a mix of sun and clouds made for a beautiful winter day

As expected, the ground was mostly bare on our drive up the Northway. But from around Schroon Lake north, new snow was visible on the upper elevations of surrounding mountains. Ascending Cascade Pass between Keene and Lake Placid, we finally entered the snow zone.

Excellent grooming and snow conditions

100% of Mount Van Hoevenberg’s terrain was open and groomed. Although the snow wasn’t as deep in the woods as you’d expect at this time of year, coverage on the trails was excellent. Because much of the snow had fallen at temperatures right around the freezing mark, the new powder was somewhat damp and sticky, making for slower conditions than I generally prefer. During the afternoon, winds picked up a bit and seemed to dry out the snow just a tad, improving my glide. Of course, if I was a real nordic skier, I’d chuck the waxless skis. But then I’d have to accept responsibility for waxing improperly, rather than simply blaming the snow.

Beth skiing out the Porter Mountain Loops

We skied most of our favorite trails, all on the stadium side of the trail network: the Ladies’ 5K and East Hill loops, and the beautiful – but challenging – Porter Mountain loops. At the end of the day, I felt more tired than I should for the distance we skied – close to 25K – making me question any thoughts of skiing in the Loppet on March 10.

With colder temperatures on the way for the weekend and more snow in the forecast for the Lake Placid area, skiers should have premium conditions for at least the next several days. Get it while it’s good!

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