It’s been an excellent winter for out-the-backdoor nordic skiing. I've been kicking and gliding around the few hundred acres of woods that I call my backyard since before Thanksgiving, often solo at night with my headlamp. There's not a ton of vertical relief, but there’s one particular ridge with beautiful hardwoods and a perfect pitch that I’ve been waiting to ski until conditions were just right. Our 10-year-old son Daniel has joined me on some of my cross-country tours through the woods this winter, and with the lifts at Gore and Whiteface on windhold, Sunday was a perfect opportunity for a father-son backyard backcountry trek to earn some turns on the ridge.
We headed in around noon, with bluebird skies, an air temp of 6 degrees and some of the nicest powder snow I've seen in the northeast in a long time. He snowshoed and I skinned (with his alpine skis and boots in my pack) the mile long approach, first following snowmobile tracks to the bottom of the ridge and then ski tracks that I had set to the top of the ridge on my solo night patrol ski tours earlier in the week.
Uninterrupted cold and storm after storm have built the base in our woods to around 30 inches, waist deep on a 10-year-old.
Up top, the climbing skins come off, snowshoes are exchanged for skis, and we scope out the best line for our 200 vertical foot descent through the maples.
No more than two minutes and ten turns later we’re at the bottom, looking back at our tracks. The snow and the woods are so nice that we switch back into our climbing gear to make another run.
We pick a new descent line, and before you know it we’re back at the snowmo trail for a long glide all the way back to the trailhead. It’s not Marcy or Gothics or the slides on Snowy, but it’s our hill, our backyard, our snow, and I don’t think our smiles could have been any bigger.