Thursday, October 3, 2013

Gore Mountain Leaf Cruncher 5K: 09/28/2013

Gore's gondola and near-peak foliage on Saturday 09/28/2013.

The Saratoga Skier and Hiker, first-hand accounts of adventures in the Adirondacks and beyond, and Gore Mountain ski blog.
Next time I complain that Cedars – the ski trail from Gore’s main base to the Burnt Ridge chairlift – is flat, remind me of last weekend’s Leaf Cruncher, the trail race that follows ski trails, work roads and single track on a course billed as “the North Country’s toughest 5K.”

Before actually running the race, I chalked up that “toughest” claim to enthusiastic exaggeration, but the course was tough enough that I logged what is probably my slowest-ever 5K result: 27:03, still good enough for 3rd place overall (don’t be too impressed, there were only 20 competitors).

The start of the Leaf Cruncher 5K

Having skied at Gore for something like 30 years, I thought I knew every nook and cranny, but the race covered a fair amount of terrain that I’ve never seen on skis. The first part of the course cuts across the bottom of Showcase and Echo, then enters the woods at the bottom of the Sagamore Glade for a long stretch of single tack, eventually dumping runners out on Cedars. Racers run down Cedars towards the Burnt Ridge Quad, back up Cedars nearly to the base lodge, and then into the woods for a long stretch on some of the cross-country ski trails, before finishing up in front of the lodge. It’s fair to say that none of the course is flat. Rocks, routes and route-finding can be challenging, particularly in the woods.

Finisher coming in

So that was fun, right up my alley. Gore did a great job with prizes too, including lift tickets, knapsacks and a pair of skis. Anyone who’s a Gore skier and wants to see the mountain in a different light, put this event on your calendar for next year.

Quite a few cars in the lot. New covered conveyor lift can be seen just to the left of the Northwoods Lodge

The gondi looked great decked out for fall

Base area set up for summer/fall operations

Our race registration included complimentary gondola tickets, and the weather was perfect for a post-race foliage tour, so up the mountain we went. The gondi seemed to have a steady stream of tourists all day – busy, but not enough for a line to form. As you can see from the photos, the leaves are at or near peak. Some trees were already bare in the uppermost elevations, but the lower mountain should remain quite colorful for the next weekend or two.

High Peaks view from the gondi. Hedges trail reconfiguration can be seen as the light colored area in the right center

Beth trying out the labyrinth at the top of the gondi

High Peaks view from the Fairview trail

From the gondi we could see the work that has been done on Hedges. As skiers may know, Hedges is being re-configured to provide access from the top of the Burnt Ridge Quad to Tahawus and the North Quad. The trail will cross the Tahawus Glade and then connect to the Tahawus trail. I’m all for enhancing Burnt Ridge’s connectivity to the rest of the mountain, but hopefully the new connector will not disrupt the Tahawus Glade too much. Other terrain expansion for 2013-14 includes the new Boreas Glades on Burnt Ridge and two new glades at the Ski Bowl, Ridge Runner Glades and Little Gore Glades. You can read about all of Gore’s 2013-14 improvements here.

Interpretive sign for summer visitors. We discovered that Beth and Daniel are in the photo on the sign.

Peak foliage viewed from the gondi

A new deck off the Tannery lounge should be ready for this winter

Next time we ride the gondi will probably be on opening weekend of the 2013-14 ski season, hopefully less than two months from now.

A beautiful fall afternoon on the patio

Photo credit, second photo ("Start of the Leaf Cruncher 5K"): Emily Stanton and Gore Mountain


  1. This was my second Leaf Cruncher 5k. It is certainly the hardest 5k I have ever run and I've been running since 1971. But I enjoyed every minute of it. It is a hard course but it is not a survival run. It's funny how parts of Gore seem flat when on skis but steep when running.

    1. I think skiers should only be allowed to complain about flat spots if they've run in the Leaf Cruncher! Congrats for running, I'll be back next year.