Thursday, January 31, 2008

Hiking - Taconic Crest Trail

This was another in the continuing series of Taconic Crest hikes in pursuit of the winter patch. We started from Pittsfield State Forest, just over the border in Massachusetts, and walked south to a second car we parked at the Lebanon Springs access road where we started our hike several weeks back. Today gave us beautiful sunshine and blue skies, temps in the low 20s, and a light wind.

The road up to Berry Pond is not plowed in winter, so we had to park down below, and first had a 2-mile climb up to the ridge and the trail. The road was well-packed by snowmobiles, which made for easy walking with the snowshoes on our backs. Once we got to the trail, we found a few inches of snow covered by an icy crust, and then another dusting of snow, and a short test walk had us breaking through the crust. We were glad we had brought the snowshoes, and quickly put them on. Then we headed south, enjoyed the view from Tower Mountain, had lunch, and were back at the second car at Lebanon Springs by 2:30, an easy day of 6.43 miles.

Monday, January 28, 2008

XC Skiing - Return to Rockwood State Forest

Sunny, blue sky, 30s, and no wind. How could I NOT go? Skied for about 2 hours, at my faster "solo" pace, and covered a lot of ground. Explored some side trails that, amazingly, had not yet been skied, at least not very recently. Even found one trail I hadn't known existed, and hopefully the GPS captured it so I can add it to my ongoing trail map. Rain and mix tomorrow into Wednesday, so that may be it for the nearby skiing for a while.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Geocaching - Return to Malta

We went back to Gray's Crossing Park, where we were deterred by flooding a couple of weeks ago, and found the two caches hidden there. Besides the potential for canoe put-in/take-out, there's a nice trail flagged along the Kayaderosseras that loops around and back to the parking area. It was less than a mile, but a walk nonetheless.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

XC Skiing - Rockwood State Forest

I was wrong about no skiable snow within an hour of home. Rockwood SF is just about an hour from here, on the southern edge of the Adirondacks, just WNW of Johnstown, and significantly higher. We had skied here in December, when the big snows were still fresh, and normally come here fairly often. Today, we found 4-5" of fresh powder over a very firm base, and the skiing was unbelievably good given the weather we've had. We had some time constraints today, so only got in about 6-7k and some big hills, but this area deserves another trip, and soon. Tuesday/Wednesday is promising some snow changing to rain, which may ruin things even there, so I may be going back to cover more of my favorite trails in the next couple of days.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

XC Skiing - Lapland Lake

Lapland Lake is a full-service Nordic center in the southern Adirondacks. I don't normally like to go there, especially on crowded weekends, but at the moment, it's probably the only skiable snow within an hour or so's drive. Today's snow conditions were, as they often advertise, "Finn-tastic"! Lapland Lake is very near the lake-effect snowbelt areas, and with its elevation, usually has good snow, and more of it, until well into April. Since today was a weekday, there were very few people out on the trails, and they'd all been freshly groomed (the trails, that is) . Conditions were just about perfect. We skied all of the blacks (expert trails), and were out for almost 2.5 hours, covering about 16k total, with a hearty lunch somewhere in the middle.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Hiking - Deer Leap

Deer Leap is a ledge at the north end of the Tongue Mountain Range that overlooks Lake George. It's about a 1.6-mile walk from the northern Tongue Mountain trailhead on NY9N. Today started out sunny and clear, but as I was driving up the Northway, the clouds were thickening, and the temperature was dropping through the 20s. When I arrived at the trailhead, it was clear that snowshoes were unnecessary, with only a few inches of new snow over the heavily used trail. Many ups and downs along the top of a ridge, eastward toward the lake. The farther I went, the lower I could see the clouds hanging across the lake, and by the time I got to Deer Leap, it was snowing and the view was mostly obscured.

Given that there was no view to speak of, the wind was swirling, and snow was becoming steadier, I decided not to hang around, but to head back to the car, before the driving on NY9N got any more interesting than it might already be. Good decision. The roads were already snow-covered, so it was a longer than expected drive home, but another good day out.

Monday, January 21, 2008

XC Skiing - Woodford State Park, VT

Six of us headed to Woodford State Park, east of Bennington, for a few hours of skiing. Temps in the single digits, along with a fresh "breeze", made for a very cold morning. Snow was not great - a good base, a few inches of powder, an icy crust, and then another half inch of powder. I expected the trail around the reservoir to be full of washouts, as we saw at Jockeybush Lake on Saturday, and was not really interested in attempting it. After about an hour of skiing park roads out through the campsites, we set off through the woods on a short jaunt to the reservoir. After one washout, and a fairly steep narrow drop that not all were capable of negotiating, the group split, and three of us turned around and headed back to the car, while the others continued on. Hot lunch and warmup at Prospect Mt, then drove home. We desperately need some more local snow...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Snowshoeing - Jockeybush Lake

Damn - forgot the camera on this trip. Lots of nice winter woods and streams. This was a 2.2-mile round trip snowshoe walk to a small lake in the southern Adirondacks. Plenty of base in the woods, with 4-5" of fresh snow on top. Many streams and tributaries were open and running, and a skier we met expressed his frustration and wish for more snow and colder temperatures. It would have been a tough ski at this point with all the open water. But it was a very nice snowshoe walk.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Moonlight Snowshoeing - Featherstonehaugh State Forest

This was one of my monthly ADK moonlight snowshoeing trips, and this time I had 5 signups. The night was clear and the moon, just past 1st quarter, was very bright, as were the stars. We decided to forego the snowshoes given the minimal snow depth, and just bare-booted about a one-hour loop through the sugar-coated forest, mostly without artificial lights. Of course, that meant we lost the trail a few times, and even missed one important turn, but always got back on track, even once using the stars, and had a fine time. Next time, I will bring the GPS as backup!

XC Skiing - Prospect Mt, VT

Spent almost 2 hours skiing at Prospect Mountain, an old downhill area near Bennington, long since converted to Nordic only. Picture-perfect day, and excellent snow conditions. Temps in the 20s, no wind, and a few inches of new snow, both on the trails and on everything else. Pretty day.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

XC Skiing - Featherstonehaugh State Forest

I needed to scout out the forest for this week's ADK moonlight snowshoe hike that I'm leading, in terms of snow amounts, whether the trails were swamped after this big thaw, etc. After a few inches of new snow over the past day or two, and with the forest being at higher elevation, I thought there just might be a chance it would be marginally skiiable. And that's about the best I can now say for it. While the surface was nice new snow, the original base was missing in a lot of places, and there were many wet spots to detour around, logs to step over, even one stream crossing where I had to remove the skis. But I made about an hour loop, and can say the snowshoe trip is possible, probably tomorrow evening, which promises to be clear and moonlit as of right now.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Walk in Woodlawn Preserve

Last night's snowfall only amounted to 1-2" after all was said and done, so today we went for a local walk instead of trying to ski anywhere. The Woodlawn Preserve is a detached portion of the same Pine Bush located closer to Albany, but has never been managed as such. This would be a really nice spot if not for the ATV damage and continued use. Today was quiet, being a weekday, and the woods were white with the new snow, so we had a nice walk for about an hour.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

More January Bike Miles

Another relatively warm (40-ish) dry calm day, and nowhere left to ski, so another bike ride seemed in order. Roads are still bare and dry, though that will change overnight tonight. Did the King's/Old State loop, this time going across NY146 and hooking up with western Lydius St back to 146. Total was a little over 16 miles. 3-6" of snow expected tonight, and more later in the week, followed by some serious cold, so that may be it for awhile as far as biking is concerned.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Geocaching Near Malta

We started out with a list of 4 geocaches we would try to find, all within a few miles of each other. We found the first two easily enough, in two different parks. The other two were in a third park, but the trail along the Kayaderosseras Creek happened to be under significantly high water after the recent thaw. There was just no way to get there, so we'll go back another time. We did discover Gray's Crossing Park as a very nice place to put a canoe in the Kayaderosseras, and will undoubtedly return there for that reason over the summer.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Ice Skating

Heavy rain all day, so we went indoor ice skating at the Schenectady County rink in Glenville. I must be doing something wrong, because my lower back always starts to ache after about 30-45 minutes of this. Good exercise alternative on an otherwise rotten day to be out.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

First bike ride of the new year

After a pretty substantial thaw, and with dry roads and temps in the 40s, I just couldn't resist. I haven't done any winter maintenance/cleanup yet, so didn't really care about any crud I might encounter. Did the King's/Old State/Lydius loop for a little under 14 miles, then made a quick trip to the post office for a total of 14.5. The legs were a little rusty, as was the butt, but it was good to get out. Lots more weather coming in for the near future, so needed to seize the day!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

XC Skiing - Saratoga Spa State Park

This was a regularly scheduled Tuesday morning ski trip with the Environmental Clearinghouse of Schenectady (ECOS). Temps in the mid 40s, and sloppy snow. Spent about 2 hours skiing around mostly on the golf course, with a few wooded trails. Golf course skiing is certainly not my favorite, but given how little snow is now left, beggars can't be choosers. Good food and socializing afterwards in the warming hut. Click here for the park's main page.

Monday, January 7, 2008

5K run

Had a choice of either biking on the trainer in the basement, or going out for a run, so chose the latter. Did the usual 5K around Cold Brook, and it felt pretty good, despite the fact that I haven't been running much.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Hiking - Taconic Crest Trail

The Taconic Crest Trail runs 35 miles along the top of the Taconic ridge from US20 near Pittsfield, MA, to NY346 near Pownal, VT. The trail is maintained by the Taconic Hiking Club, which offers a patch for hiking of all trail sections in the winter. Several friends and I are interested in pursuing this patch, so we did our first section today. We tackled the southernmost section, from the Lebanon Springs access road to US20, a distance of about 4.4 miles, all of it on snowshoes. The weather was alternately sunny and cloudy, calm winds, and temperatures well into the 40s. The snow was sloppy and wet, and trailbreaking was harder than it would have been in softer snow. It took us from 10:30am until 4:00 pm to cover those 4.4 miles, including a lunch stop. We'll be covering more sections as the winter progresses, and I'll post more about those trips here. There were really no photo ops today, but other sections do have some views that are photo-worthy.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Snowshoeing in Glenville

Snowshoed for about an hour with friends in the extensive woods behind their house in Glenville. Used my older wooden showshoes, whose bindings I had upgraded, to see how well they fared breaking trail in the 12" of soft snow. The snow wasn't really deep enough to compare their deep-snow performance against the smaller aluminum models, but they did work much better than before with these new bindings. Much heavier than the Sherpas, though. Nice lunch afterwards.

Friday, January 4, 2008

XC Skiing at Indian Meadows

Skied for about an hour at Indian Meadows Park in Glenville. Trails had been walked quite a bit, but the snow was still pretty good, until we got back into the wooded trails to the south. Snow was a little thin and crusty there.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Sanders Preserve XC Ski

Skied for about an hour at the Sanders Preserve in Glenville, NY. Several inches of new heavy wet snow overnight, and still falling. Ground very wet beneath the snow, with numerous washouts forcing us to turn back after short forays in several different directions.