Monday, December 30, 2013

XC at Lapland Lake: 12/29/2013

Beth skiing along West Stony Creek at Lapland Lake cross-country ski center on Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013.

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

These days I don't get the chance to do nearly as much groomed cross-country skiing as I'd like. So when our kids made plans to spend Sunday with the grandparents, Beth and I jumped on the chance to get in a skinny-ski workout. The only hitch, if you hadn't noticed, is the minimal snow cover we're currently experiencing throughout the Adirondacks. Mount Van Ho?... a 1K loop on manmade snow with a "rock ski advisory" for a few more K. Garnet Hill Lodge?... 15K with warnings of "variable conditions and icy patches."

Lapland Lake reported in with good skiing on 34K, just about their entire trail system. I knew from experience that I could rely on Lapland's impeccable grooming and honest reporting, so it didn't take long for us to make our decision and pack the car.

We're both on waxless racing skis, Beth on Fisher RCS's and me on a pair of Atomics. For us, the grab-and-go convenience of waxless outweighs the sometimes superior grip and glide of waxing. Despite the waxless base, I seemed to have that magic combination of great glide and great grip over the rolling terrain. Tracks were set on both sides of the trails with the center rolled out for skating. Coverage was great - just the occasional minor thin spot where the groomer dragged up some snirt.

Another view of West Stony Creek

Beth has been skiing her RCS's for almost 10 years, and it turns out that they are a tad long and the camber's a bit stiff for her to get efficient grip on the hills. So when we took a break in the afternoon, we had Olavi size her up for a new set of Madshus racers. You can't get better advice than Olavi Hirvonen's anywhere - besides founding Lapland Lake 35 years ago, Olavi competed in the 1960 Squaw Valley Winter Olympic Games as a member of the U.S. Nordic Ski Team. Olavi's a real inspiration: at 83 years old he's still grooming trails on a daily basis. You can read the full story of Olavi's 1960 Olympic competition and the founding of Lapland Lake here.

This is what winter's supposed to look like

Of course we went back out again so that Beth could give her new sticks a test ski, but it had started snowing. Goose down flakes were coming down hard, which looked beautiful but slowed down the skiing so that it felt like our skis had velcro bases. The ride home was a bit of a white-knuckle trip, but I'm happy to have the snow. Friends who skied with us on Sunday and then went back again today reported that the couple inches Lapland picked up made the skiing even better.

Snow flakes the size of goose down feathers at the end of the day

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