Tuesday, December 30, 2008

XC Skiing - Rockwood State Forest

Woke up to howling winds and a dusting of snow locally, but not enough to do anything with. Checked snowfall reports and saw that Gloversville got 2" and Caroga Lake 3", and Rockwood SF already still had 8-10" on the ground. Seemed like skiing might at least be possible, if not fantastic.

Drove up and pulled into the parking area that was covered with glare ice from all the rain and melting that went on. Trails were definitely crunchy underneath, but powdery on top, so it could have been pretty good. Unfortunately, any prior ski tracks were now icy ruts, as were the foot-wide snowshoe trenches that were pretty common. Even worse were the snowmobile tracks that weren't even supposed to be there. We tried to mostly ski off to one side off all these, and avoided the bigger downhills, which would have been treacherous. Found one trail that hadn't been touched, and followed that out and back for the best skiing of the day.

We're really hoping that Fulton County continues to groom this area, or at least roll it flat. It's kind of a mess at the moment, and could really benefit from a foot of snow or some flattening out, or preferably both.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Geocaching - Sanders Nature Preserve

Still about 8-10" of hard crusty snow left on the ground - not good for local skiing or snowshoeing, so today we went geocaching. The Sanders Preserve is a Town of Glenville property that's wooded and has lots of streams running through it. Geocaching.com identified 5 relatively new caches that we had never attempted before, so we were off and running. Or at least walking, once I got my car unstuck from the ice-covered parking lot. We failed to find the first two, which were micros and may have been covered with snow. We'll go back for those in the spring. We did find the third one we attempted, and the other two remaining ones were out of the way and will also have to wait. Not a very successful day, but it was good to get outside for a walk after some of the nasty weather we've had lately.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Biking - Capital Holiday Lights in the Park

MHCC, NYBC, and ABC all coordinated a group ride this evening through Albany's Capital Holiday Lights in the Park display. It was supposed to have been last weekend, but the multiple storms knocked it out and they rescheduled for today. About 15 of us showed up at 4:30 pm, before the displays opened to vehicular traffic (at $15/car), and did 4-5 loops through the light displays. The very beginning of the ride also included a spectacular sunset as a backdrop. That was the real show.

Another rider posted a 4-minute video of the ride on YouTube. I'm the rider in the yellow jacket who appears only occasionally.

Retired one year!

Today is the one-year anniversary of my last day of work. And it's been a good year, as you can read here!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

XC Skiing - Camp Saratoga Trails

Camp Saratoga is a part of the Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park. In the winter, this parcel has groomed cross-country ski trails that are very nice and relatively close to home. Snowshoers and skiers are allowed, but bare-booting is prohibited, so the trails remain in pretty good condition.

Today Holly and I skied for about 90 minutes, and as we like to do, we didn't always stay on the groomed trails. There are several other skiable trails that aren't groomed, and which also provide some more challenging terrain, and we tried several today. Really made me want to get out into the backcountry environment and away from the groomed stuff. Unfortunately, the rest of this week, especially tomorrow, will bring a potpourri of skiing-unfriendly precipitation, including sleet, freezing rain, and just plain rain. We'll need some more snow on top of all that before skiing will be any good again.

No pictures today. If I had taken any, they would uncannily resemble the last two, snowy pine plantations and wide open trails.

Monday, December 22, 2008

XC Skiing - Woods Hollow Nature Preserve

After 15-20" of local snow in the past few days, getting out today was a must, despite the cold temps and biting winds. We settled on Woods Hollow, a small nature preserve north of Ballston Spa, managed by the Town of Milton.

We skied along the old Ballston Spa reservoir on a nature trail, then up into some pine plantations with very wide trails. It's a popular place for walking in all seasons, and ski tracks don't last very long here.

From there, we continued along the back of the preserve, and set out on the Green Loop (see map), a much less used trail by walkers, and a little backcountry-ish in its skiing feel. On the way back to the car, I couldn't resist going down the biggest available hill, and would have had a good ride had my binding not snagged a hidden downed branch, sending me head over heels.

We were out for about an hour and the skiing was excellent. We're considering someplace a little more exotic for tomorrow.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

XC Skiing - Indian Meadows Town Park

Last week we had a crippling ice storm. Yesterday we had 10" of snow. Tomorrow, we're expecting 5-10" more. Welcome to winter in the Northeast!

With other things on the day's agenda, we only had time for a short local ski, the first of the season. I went to Holly's house and helped her get rid of some downed limbs from last week's ice storm, and then we headed for Indian Meadows, a nearby Town of Glenville park.

This is a fairly boring place to ski, but it's close by, and that was a big plus. We were out for 45-50 minutes on really good snow with some wet spots underneath. It was good to get out after a week of nothing but biking on the trainer in the basement. Combined with the morning's snow shoveling, that was enough for one day.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

ICE STORM!! - Walk in Lisha Kill Preserve

Friday, December 12, brought us the most severe ice storm we've had here in over 20 years. We got somewhere between 0.75-1.0" of ice coating everything. Tree limbs were down all over the area and the Northeast, and over 240,000 people were without power just in this local area. Some still have no power, and may be out until the middle of next week. I was without electricity for 41+ hours, but fortunately, with temperatures dropping into the teens, I did have heat, unlike many of my neighbors. Our power in this neighborhood came back just after nightfall tonight.

Although the storm was very damaging, it can also be beautiful. Holly and I went for a walk this afternoon in the Lisha Kill Preserve, which I posted about not too long ago. Many, many tree limbs were down throughout the preserve, but almost all of the stately old pines were still standing. I didn't take any pictures on this walk, but have included a few here from around my backyard. I got off easier than many neighbors, but do have some minor cleanup to do nonetheless.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Geocaching - Niskayuna

It was a cold dreary December day, so Holly and I decided to try another geocache. This one was a multi-cache, a short walk along the Mohawk River south of the Rexford Bridge. The good news is that we got to walk in a place neither of us had been before. The bad news is we never found the initial cache. It sounds like it may have been a tricky one, but try as we might, we just couldn't find it. The hiders are evidently getting very creative with these things...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Biking - Local Roads

This was the third installment of the Tour de Clifton Park, a leisurely 28-mile social ride from the outings calendar of the Taconic Hiking Club. Details here...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Walk - Mohawk River State Park

Formerly known as the "Schenectady Museum Preserve", this is an area that used to be great and convenient for cross-country skiing. Now, it's become so popular with walkers, and their dogs, that the only good skiing is immediately after a new snowfall. There are some steep ravines and narrow, twisting downhills that can be pretty interesting on a good day.

But today I was walking, since there is no snow yet, just lots and lots of thick oozy mud. I wandered all over the place and even explored some trails I'd never seen before. This place is much better after the ground freezes and is covered with about a foot of snow. I was out for a little over an hour, doing a long loop around the wooded part of the preserve.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Biking - Mohawk River Bike Path

A beautiful December day - sunny and over 50! Took a relaxed ride on the bike path. Details here...