Sunday, December 30, 2012

XC Skiing - Glenville's Sanders Preserve

After a couple of days in Syracuse celebrating one final Christmas, we drove home today leaving a very snowy landscape behind.  Oh, we have snow here, but it seemed like a lot more there.  But, with the afternoon free, and plenty of new snow here, we settled in at home for a bit and then headed out for an hour of skiing before dark, at the Sanders Preserve in nearby Glenville.

This can be a challenging place to ski, especially before all of the little rivulets running beneath the early snows have a chance to freeze over.  We had to gingerly cross several of these as we followed the mostly snowshoe-packed trails on the north side of Sanders Road.  We avoided the biggest downhill with a short bushwhack along an abandoned (but still marked) trail, crossed a bridge in a ravine, and found our way back to the beginning of the long gentle downhill back to the car.

The snow was fantastic, and deep enough even here to hide all of the rocks and roots.  With the colder weather expected in the coming week, it looks like a perfect time to get out and enjoy winter's best.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Snowshoeing - Woods Hollow Preserve

Today was a day when other things needed to get done, and since we'd skied yesterday, we decided to join a group of people that Holly sometimes snowshoes with in the winter, most of whom are also in her summer biking group.  We could get out for an hour in the morning, and leave the afternoon free to catch up on some things at home.

Woods Hollow is a small preserve just north of Ballston Spa, at the corner of Rowland Street and North Line Road.  There are some old carriage roads, a sledding hill, and several miles of trails to explore.  A lot of people walk here in the winter, and it isn't long after a snowfall that all the trails have been packed down pretty well.  The farther we got from the cars, the more pleasant the scenery and the walking, and the fewer other people we saw.  It was a pleasant morning for our first snowshoe outing of the season, and another way to relish the recent snowfall after a mostly green winter last year.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

XC Skiing - First snow of the season

10+ inches of it.  Heavy and wet with a layer of slush on the bottom.  Miserable driveway shovelling.  Thanks to neighbor Gary for tackling the deep end with his snowblower. 

After a short break to catch my breath and drink something, Holly and I got out for an hour of skiing.

At Indian Meadows Park in nearby Glenville
Indian Meadows Park has a few miles of fairly flat ski trails, some of them groomed by a local volunteer with a snowmobile and roller.  This grooming was in progress later in our outing, but with a couple of exceptions, most of the trails we followed had already been tracked by others and made for a pleasant first time out.  The park was very crowded today, but most of the crowd was on the sledding hill and we saw only a few others on the trails.

This is the kind of snow that will set up firm and make a great base if it manages to stick around, and a few fluffy inches on top would make for excellent skiing.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Disc golf - The winds of December

After several days of dark drizzly gloom, today we saw the sun, so despite the demands of the season (or maybe because of them?), I got out for a couple of rounds of disc golf.  It wasn't going to be an easy day, since the winds were blowing, and I'd be using a backup "driver" disc, having lost my preferred one in the weeds at Blatnick Park last week.  I've always had trouble controlling this one, which is why I had replaced it earlier and not used it since.

The first nine wasn't bad, at +3.  Then the winds really picked up, and I struggled to a +5 on the back.  On the next 18, I started playing the wind and not taking stupid chances, but even so, that second round was a +12.  At least I kept it under 70, which is a number I haven't seen in a while.  Lots of friendly people in the park this morning, but no other disc golfers, and probably for good reason.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Biking - One last 2012 Mohawk River Loop

Today, friends Judy, George, and I got out for a nice 28-mile ride from bridge to bridge along the Mohawk River. 

This is a popular ride among local cyclists, but today we saw nary a one until we were almost finished.  Of course, that 10:30 start was a bit cool, with temps hovering around freezing, so that may explain the absence of others at that hour.  We were well-layered and comfortable as we enjoyed this ride at an easy pace, with a stop at Riverview Orchards for a fresh cider donut and some hot cider along the way.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Disc golf - A couple of good rounds

After a very cool morning, followed by a lunchtime meeting, I got out this afternoon for a couple of rounds of disc golf in Central Park.  Some other players were also out, but I managed to play through off the first tee and stayed ahead as if there was nobody else there.  After a spectacular 26 (-2) on the first nine, the back nine caught up with me and ballooned to a 35, for a total of 61 (+4).  The second round was a little better, with a 29-31-60 (+3).  I was throwing it pretty well, despite a lot of tree interference and 3 penalty shots for throwing out of bounds at various points.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Disc golf - A new course nearby!

I've been hearing rumors lately about a new disc golf course being planned for Blatnick Park in nearby Niskayuna, so I checked out the forums on, the web site of the local disc golf organization.  Sure enough, it's currently being built, so I found a map of the current status of this course-in-progress, and went to take a look.

The first tee is near the driving range, behind the town's transfer station.  The tees only have temporary markers at this point, and the baskets aren't up yet (going up tomorrow, 12/8!), so a 5-gallon paint pail overturned on a post marks the basket locations.  There are currently 11 of these posts, with the ultimate goal being an 18-hole course.

It was windy today, and this course is mostly wide open to those winds, so it was a bit challenging to keep the discs flying where I wanted them.  I was actually happy to see this openness, as opposed to the Central Park course, because it gave me a chance to just let it rip and see the behavior of different discs, in terms of distance and direction. 

This will be a fun course to play when it's completed, and another place to get out for a little nearby variety.  Kudos to the Town of Niskayuna and Discap for getting this course up and running.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Disc golf and biking - A 2-outing December day

Today was an even warmer day than yesterday, and another good day to get out and do something.  This morning, I headed over to Central Park for a couple of rounds of disc golf.  The first round started out great, with a very respectable 29 (+1) on the front nine.  Then the winds arrived, and control and accuracy went out the window.  The back nine was a dismal 39 (+11), my worst nine in recent memory.  The second round was at least more balanced, but not in a particularly good way, with a 31-36-67.  But it was a pleasant stroll in the park anyway, so it's all good.

This afternoon, Holly and I got out for a short bike ride on the Niskayuna and Colonie sections of the Mohawk River Bikeway.  The winds here were a little swirly but not bad, and there were lots of others out enjoying this nice December day.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Hiking and trail work - Hennig Preserve and Homestead County Forest

Today, I joined a group of volunteers who've been meeting regularly to open up some new trails in the Hennig Preserve, in nearby Providence, and the adjacent Homestead County Forest.  Today's project involved exposing the ruins of an old sawmill on Cadman Creek, which runs through the county property adjacent to one of the new trails.  With 10-12 people hacking and sawing away, we got a lot of work done, and the before/after difference at the site was striking.  I wish I had taken photos to document that difference, but was just having too much fun to even think of doing that.  I bailed out early to go help Holly cut a Christmas tree, which seemed like a continuation of the previous work.  On a mild December day, it was just a great day to be outside.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Biking - 11 out of 12 ain't bad

With rain forecast for the afternoon, I got out on a mild December morning for a few more miles on the Rotterdam section of the Mohawk River Bikeway.  I'm still chipping away at the goal of 2,100 miles for the year, and also realized today that I've now biked in every month this year except January.  With the crazy snowless winter last year, I'm not sure how I missed it, but I'll hope for a little more foresight next time around.  A lot of snow would be much preferred this coming season, but if not, I'll try for the full 12 months of biking instead.