Monday, December 6, 2010

XC Skiing - Clapper Hollow State Forest

Though we only got a dusting of snow overnight here in Schenectady, a lake-effect snow band off of Lake Ontario parked itself overnight in southwestern Schoharie County, with reports of 6-8" of snow on the ground. Ever the optimist, and eager to get back on skis, I headed to Clapper Hollow State Forest, in the middle of that action, and only about an hour from home. We skied there once last year, and the trails are mostly on old roads, so not a lot of snow cover would be needed to make it skiable.

Three trails leave the parking area. I knew that #10 to the right had a long uphill/downhill on it that might not have enough snow to be safe. #1 to the left still looked pretty overgrown and weedy, and not yet flattened out by earlier snows, so I opted for #4. My complete outing is highlighted in red.

It certainly looked and felt like winter here, with the temperature only about 18F, big winds, and blowing snow still falling.

But there were several problems. There's no base, the ground under the snow was not frozen, and there were wet spots, leading to gloppy ski bottoms which then iced up. Once I started up the hill, this was no longer an issue until I returned back down there later. The other problem was insufficient cover under the pines, the dark areas on the map. I was climbing through small rocks and roots, even thought I was on an old road. When I got to the top and looked down the other side at the stuff showing through the minimal snow, I wasn't the least bit interested in attempting that downhill. So I turned around and gingerly headed back down the hill I'd just climbed, much of it having the same problem. I thought I might go back and try #1, which was less piney, so better covered.

Back at the bottom, my skis iced up badly, including some mud, so after just a half-hour of skiing, I decided this just wasn't going to be worth the aggravation. It's an early season lesson to be relearned every year in our eagerness to get out on the snow, and today I learned it for this season.

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