Saturday, February 12, 2011

XC Skiing - Stephens and Cascade Ponds

Today, I joined a Schenectady ADK ski trip to Stephens and Cascade Ponds, near Blue Mountain Lake, NY. Holly and I are the ADK trail stewards for much of this Northville-Placid Trail section, but had skied it only once before, many years ago.

The original plan was to jump off the NPT on an unmarked fishermans' path to Stephens Pond, about 1.5 miles from the car. Then we would ski about .75 miles on the surface of Stephens Pond to the leanto located there, avoiding some unnecessary hills. But recent DEC ice advisories, as well as the prospect of a strong wind in our faces on the pond, led us to change our plans and just ski the NPT all the way to the leanto. The snow was deep off-trail, with about 8-10" of new snow over a previously broken track. These were some of the best ski conditions of the season, and we enjoyed the gentle ups and downs that took us to Stephens Pond, at about 3.4 miles from the car. The wind was howling up the pond here, and we decided we'd made the right decision.

After a quick lunch at the leanto, we headed back up the hill to the NPT junction with the Cascade Pond Trail. This trail was not as well-maintained as our trail-steward section, but it was an easy 1-mile up-and-down to the leanto on Cascade Pond. As always, leader Roy wanted lots of group pictures.

Once we got back to the junction with the NP trail, the rest of the 2+ miles back to the cars was mostly downhill, and was very pleasant skiing in our previously broken tracks. Overall, we were probably on the trail for about 4 hours, to cover the 8.6 miles. It was a pleasant day, with temps in the 20s, occasional flurries, and some really fantastic skiing.

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