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The Ramblings of an XC Noob

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  • The Ramblings of an XC Noob

    I thought about doing this last season. This is going to be a running thread of my adventures on skis for Winter 2022-23.

    Pokey and I went to Cascade Ski Center 3 or 4 times in the 2020/21 season. We took some lessons and had a few really fun times. Last Winter, I got my own pair of skis on January 6, 2022... A little late as a result of the pandemic. I got 34 ski days in while also missing out on 2 weeks of skiing due to Covid. I thought that was pretty good.
    The snow in the lower elevations melted prematurely last year (Cascade closed a week or two early as a result). Though, there was a random storm that rolled in during mid April and dropped 6 inches of snow that would melt by noon the following day. I snagged one final ski season day at Wickham Marsh. By that time, I felt pretty comfortable on skis.

    Also, to note, I got a really great deal on an XC ski setup for Pokey from Cascade during their going out of business sale. So, she will be joining me on a few XC Adventures this year.

    Since that random day in April, I have been looking forward to Winter XC Season. When we've hiked this year, we've mentioned while on certain trails that we think "would be pleasant skis..." a number of times.

    Today, we got a foot of snow (And counting - Snow is expected to stop in 13 hours). And, thus begins, the 22/23 season of The Ramblings of an XC Noob.

    Night One: Heyworth - Mason Trail

    I live very close to a few town run parks and trail system. I walked down to the trail that leads to Heyworth Mason Park tonight after work and strapped on my skis. I had my headlamp on, but there was enough "Sorta Full Moon light" that I never needed to turn it on.

    I glided for 20' before going down a decent sized hill. I have walked up and down this hill many times. Even walked up it once with Makwa .

    What ensued was a scene out of a comedy. I needed a few more minutes of kick'n'glide before jumping into hills. But, I didn't have that. The first 6 seconds of my descent probably would've looked hilarious to a bystander. I didn't fall or anything like that. Just sloppy... Pretty freaking sloppy... But, Halfway down the hill, I made adjustments and smoothed everything out. Arriving at Heyworth-Mason Park, signs of some other skiers tracks were still visible. I hopped on a "track" and followed it to where it turned around. I continued on and made a loop. I noticed a big blowndown tree. It was very recent. You could still see the footprints underneath it from prior to the tree falling. Timber!!!

    Completing the loop, I decided to do it again since the trail was now broken. Nothing left to do but glide, glide, glide.

    This was a short ski but I worked up a good sweat! It was also a nice and simple warmup for Winter. I'm sure that I'll be back here a few times this Winter... But, lookout. This XC noob has a few other neat places planned!

  • #2
    Skis are a pretty awesome way to approach a good number of high peaks. Just got our first significant snowfall up in Ottawa yesterday and managed 14 km out of my skis last night, thus starting my training for an attempt on Seymour in Feb. Hope to see you on the trails!


    • Makwa
      Makwa commented
      Editing a comment
      Yury you could do a ski/hike. Ski into the Ward Brook lean-to, stash the skis, then hike/snowshoe up Seymour. Might cut some time off the slog in/out from Corey's.

    • Yury
      Yury commented
      Editing a comment
      Makwa, I did not like a trail from a trailhead to Seymour cairn.
      Although 80% to 90% of this trail is relatively flat, there are parts of this trail that can make me uncomfortable on skis.
      Last edited by Yury; 12-17-2022, 08:47 PM.

    • Learning The Trails
      Learning The Trails commented
      Editing a comment
      mbowler that's a part of my long term plans. I've really enjoyed using them so far. It beats snowshoes all freaking day imo.

      14k for your first night on them is impressive!

  • #3
    Mason Hill was the most difficult accent within a few hundred yards of a Stewart's Shop I've ever made. The promise of an ice cream cone kept me moving upward the entire time.

    Originally posted by Learning The Trails View Post
    Nothing left to do but glide, glide, glide.
    And kudos if this is a reference to the Doors. If so, you are the Lizard King. You can do anything.


    • WinterWarlock
      WinterWarlock commented
      Editing a comment
      @makwa - reference is to the Grateful Dead, from He's Gone

    • Makwa
      Makwa commented
      Editing a comment
      Not to be confused with Hall & Oates "She's Gone"

      Yep... see post #10 below. I am familiar with the song but my mind always jumps to The Doors first as evidenced by this trip report from 2015...

  • #4
    That's some solid mileage for day # 1 of the season.

    Its neat how skiers and non-skiers view terrain through such different lenses. Skiers spend all summer envisioning what terrain will look like with a good base to smooth things out and a little extra surface material for handling. Justin, how many miles of approach trail have you hiked since last winter while mentally interpreting your steps into kicks and turns? If I was a betting man, I'd wager pretty close to all of them.

    Edit: Its annoying that adding a # to a number turns the number into a term. # 1 without the space = Home
    Is this a glitch or did I just find the Forum's "secret menu."
    My mind was wandering like the wild geese in the west.


    • Learning The Trails
      Learning The Trails commented
      Editing a comment
      I think on every hike, I have envisioned it with ski's on -or- conversely, been like this trail is a big nope. But, it is surprising how many miles of trails that I think, "Hey, this would be a good ski." If Pokey is with me, then I'll say that to her. She's said the same to me a number of times as well. We'll even fake kick'n'glide while talking about it.

  • #5
    Day 2: Heyworth-Mason Park, Little Ausable River Trail & the BMX trail 12/17/22

    We moved to our current location over the Summer and I was really excited that we had a trail system so close to our door. Mostly, I looked forward to skiing it in Winter.

    Today, I had a nice start. I was much more composed while going down "Mason Hill." I did a half loop in the park and then hopped on the Little Ausable River Trail. This is a nice and easy town trail that follows the river of which it's named. We got close to 2' of wet, heavy snow from the storm which made trail breaking quite a workout at a few points. A pair of snowshoers had left some messy tracks and there was quite a bit of blowdown on the trail. So, I opted to hop on the "Long" BMX trail when I reached the "junction" for it. I had fresh pow all to myself. The BMX trail was the nicest part of the ski. It was like the fallen snow from the nearby tree branches had naturally "groomed" the trail. Really nice gliding. I linked up with the Little Ausable Trail and began my way back. I had to crawl under a blowndown tree at the bridge and then opted to take a shortcut and get back on the BMX trail to follow my tracks on that nice snow. Upon linking back up with the LAR trail, I continued to follow my tracks. It was certainly better skiing on the way back. But, it was still was a trail breaking experience. At the park, I decided to shortcut and break a trail. I should have just followed my earlier tracks. This wore me out a bit. I was very happy to get back to my earlier track for the short trek back home. All in all a really nice afternoon with pleasant temps.
    Attached Files


  • #6
    Day 3 - ADK Cascade Ski Center 12/18/22

    I feel like we were late to the party when it comes to the old regime at Cascade Ski Center. We took a lesson and went a few times in 2021. In early 2022, I got my ski package there (which I will likely discuss in a future post). Along with it came a free season pass. I ended up skiing there a lot last year and brought Pokey a few times.

    Covid protocols were in effect both Winters. So the lodge portion of the building was closed. Masks were required indoors. All Full Moon Parties were off the table... That's something that I kinda wish I got to experience.

    At the end of last season, I got Pokey a very nice ski package at Cascade's closing sale. The skis are Rossingol Evo-trail XT-65's. One of the things that made these skis appealing is that they have adjustable bindings. I'm too much of a noob to know how to properly set them up. So, we set off to Cascade for "Free Skiing Day" and to see if someone there knew how to set her bindings. I was also very curious to see the changes that have taken place since ADK has taken over the business.

    I asked the guy at the ski counter if he knew how to setup the bindings.

    "I do, we actually have these same skis available for sale or to rent," he said gesturing behind the rental counter.

    I noticed dozens of the exact same pairs of skis hanging from the rack.

    "We got them in last week," he added.

    It took him two minutes to setup Pokey's bindings.

    She sat down to put on her boots and I ran to the car to grab my gear. I met her back at the lodge and we were ready to go.

    The first and only fall of the day came while Pokey descended the stairs and slipped on some ice on the bottom step.

    "Geez, I'm not even on the trails yet," said Pokey.

    Pokey's newfangled bindings also have a new style of locking mechanic. Most skis are pull and snap or push buttons. Her's are twist and lock. She had no issues locking in and had them on in seconds.

    We skied back and forth on the flat in front of the lodge to get her back in ski mode. After ten minutes, she seemed ready for the trails.

    We started off going down the first hill on the Cascade Trail, this is my favorite way to start a day at Cascade... Pokey did a very nice job on it. We then made a quick left down the first hill of Rabbit Run. It's not a steep hill but it's impressive how much distance you get sliding down it. I love this section as it welcomes you to a forest full of snow glazed tamaracks. The trees scream, "Welcome to a Winter Wonderland!"

    Before I go on, I have to mention, this was some of the absolute best conditions that I've ever experienced at Cascade. A perfect dump to start the season coupled with glorious, groomed goodness.

    This was the stuff.

    We used a combo of Easy St. and Main St. to make our way to Upper Brookside (which we out and backed). We stopped at the dock and took some pics. Then we hopped on Marshmallow. There is one spot along this trail with a fantastic view of Basin. It holds such a captivating presence from here. While it was cloudy and the handful of visible High Peak summits were obscured by low clouds... Basin's wasn't... I knew there was a reason that I said Basin was my favorite High Peak on the 46ers Survey.

    From here, we hopped on the Beaver Run/JRT and took that back to Easy Street. We then followed Main St back to the lodge. Just before the last hill en route to the lodge, I noticed a new (or revived trail) "Downtown Alley." I had spotted a new trail while skiing in front of the lodge earlier. I assumed this was it. So, I hopped on it. It did take me back to the lodge. Pokey didn't see me make the right and continued via Main St back to the lodge. We skied around for a few extra minutes before calling it a day.

    We popped back in the lodge and for the first time after two years checked out the "Ski Lodge" part of it. Looks like a great place to warm up during a full ski day at Cascade.

    Pokey told me that her new skis "Felt great," and that "They're way more lighter than" the rentals she's used in the past few years.

    I was curious to see how ADK would handle running a ski center. Upon my first experience there under the new ownership, I feel positive about it.

    I mentioned earlier, that we were late to the original Cascade "party." But, it will be interesting to see how this new "party" rocks on.

    I can't emphasize enough how great the conditions and weather were today. The scenery couldn't be beat. An amazing start to the season at Cascade.

    We're definitely looking forward to more adventures here.

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    • FlyFishingandBeer
      FlyFishingandBeer commented
      Editing a comment
      The CSC was my home away from home for a couple of really fun years, largely thanks to their really low priced lodging. The full moon parties were really a two-phase party rolled into one. There was a very lively ski section which led folks to kegs, hotdogs, and bonfires. Forget any sense of "ADK reverence," it was a lot of whooping, hollering, laughing and many other things that can end with "-ing." The other element was the bar area where the Full Moon Band played. If you stood back and squinted just a little, you'd swear you were in the famous George Clinton and P-Funk party scene from the movie PCU (They played Stomp! They never play Stomp).

      I'm willing to be that if enough people make enough noise about reviving the Full Moon Parties, the ADK would probably give their own version a test run.

      Edit: All this talk about CSC has me wishing for One More Saturday Night.

  • #7
    Night 4: Clintonville Pine Barrens 12/27/22

    I hope everyone is enjoying a pleasant holiday experience. I spent Christmas weekend in Albany and brought my skis hoping to have a chance to ski either in the Pine Bush or Heldebergs but ended up being too busy.

    I'm back in the North Country and was able to get out for a ski last night after work. I popped by the Clintonville Pine Barrens and strapped on my headlamp.

    The conditions... Sucked. Plenty of bare booters have been through here since the last storm and made the trail into frozen mashed potatoes.

    There were a few straightaway stretches where other skiers had made a track and those had been destroyed by a booter.

    I haven't had much luck at the Pine Barrens. Because of that, I will likely avoid it unless there's fresh snow on the ground.


    • #8
      If you ever get over to the western Adirondacks, There are many miles of machine groomed trails of various difficulty grades are available from flat easy to black diamond, all near Boonville. Warming huts are available. You can "rent" (for no cost) skis or snowshoes from Boonville Search and Rescue right in downtown Boonville (small opitonal donations are appreciated), or from BREIA, not far away. BSAR is open during weekends or school holidays during the winter ski season.

      Boonville Search And Rescue, Boonville, New York. 854 likes. The BSAR, was developed to aid in the rescue of lost or injured individuals in the region, as well as promote safe and fun outdoor...
      Last edited by Nessmuk; 12-28-2022, 04:09 PM.
      "Leave the beaten track behind occasionally and dive into the woods. Every time you do you will be certain to find something you have never seen before." - Alexander Graham Bell


      • Learning The Trails
        Learning The Trails commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks for the tip. I'll definitely keep that in mind. A good buddy of mine grew up in Boonville (lives in Utica now), has told me there's a lot of great ski opportunities out there.

    • #9
      Originally posted by Makwa View Post
      Mason Hill was the most difficult accent within a few hundred yards of a Stewart's Shop I've ever made. The promise of an ice cream cone kept me moving upward the entire time.

      And kudos if this is a reference to the Doors. If so, you are the Lizard King. You can do anything.
      Sounds more like, "Nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile...." And that sound more Dead than Doors.


      • #10
        Originally posted by tgoodwin View Post
        Sounds more like, "Nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile...." And that sound more Dead than Doors.
        Plausible and excellent recall. I'm gonna have to pull out the Europe '72 live album that I haven't listened to in ages now.

        I took it to be from The Doors' "Not To Touch the Earth"

        Not to touch the earth
        Not to see the sun
        Nothing left to do, but
        Run, run, run
        Let's run
        Let's run
        House upon the hill
        Moon is lying still
        Shadows of the trees
        Witnessing the wild breeze
        C'mon baby run with me
        Let's run​

        The wild breeze and the shadows of the trees kinda fits in here too.

        Now we need to hear from Learning The Trails to get the definitive answer. I hope it's not just a total coincidence and we're finding references to lyrics where none were intended.

        EDIT 6:50 p.m. --- Heard from the source... It is a Grateful Dead reference.
        Last edited by Makwa; 12-30-2022, 06:53 PM.


        • Makwa
          Makwa commented
          Editing a comment
          You could always get a Doordash or Grubhub delivery to the front door of the venue. Time it right and you're eating a cheesesteak as you're walking in.

          Never attempted a bang-bang with Katz's involved though the short walk to the Doughnut Plant on Grand is a great dessert afterward. And I hope you stop at McSorley's for a few beers as you walk north from Katz's to Joe's! They're almost in a straight line.

        • FlyFishingandBeer
          FlyFishingandBeer commented
          Editing a comment
          Makwa I've never been to McSorely's or Doughnut Plant so I'll add those ones to my list. I also keep meaning to check out McGee's which was famously named McLaren's in How I Met Your Mother.

        • Makwa
          Makwa commented
          Editing a comment
          Definitely check out McSorley's next time. It is like stepping back in time. There is still dust and cobwebs from before Prohibition in that place. They make their own beer. I recommend the dark over the light.

          Didn't realize McGee's the template for McLaren's.

          We could go on all day suggesting bars in NYC. There's too many to count that are great. But if you're a Sopranos fan, Godfather fan, or general aficionado of the Mafia there are a bunch of places you can hang out that were filming locations or spots where infamous mob hits took place.

      • #11
        Night 5: Wickham Marsh (South) 12/28/22

        Wickham Marsh South is one of my favorite nighttime easy skis. Strap on a headlamp and go.

        From this trailhead, there is a series of loops that link up. There's the "Small Loop," the "Big Loop." which should not be confused with the "Big Marsh Loop." I usually either ski the small loop a few times or ski the big loop once. I've never skied the big marsh loop as it has a big drop (no matter which way you approach it), a narrow trail and it's never been broken out. I've also never been here without snow on the ground. I ended last ski season here and hadn't been back since. The trailhead is littered with signs warning about ticks. When you see this many signs... It means you will pick up a few passengers.

        I stopped by my place after work and took a minute to get my gear and outfit together. I brought a (very) light coat and (correctly) presumed that it would be too much. It was going for 8 PM. The Early Melt struck early... And, it seems to be here for at least another week...

        Upon arriving at the Southern Trailhead, I had a plan to ski the "Big Loop" counterclockwise. If I had been here a day or two prior,.. This TR would've likely been me ranting about booters ruining ski tracks. That said, the weather presented the snow with some really nice kick'n'glide conditions. I worked my way Eastward, and in a humorous moment missed the left turn for the "Big Loop" and was heading for a steep drop at the narrow "Big Marsh Loop." I stopped, turned around, and hopped on the regular "big" trail.

        There's a spot where bright lights are visible in the near distance despite the dark purple Winter sky. The distant light source is the (former) Port Kent Ferry Docks. You can't get this view in daytime.

        I enjoyed some really nice conditions just until the very end. I hit a stretch of some really sticky stuff followed by some icy stuff. Easy to navigate and a very small part of the ski. But, it deserves mentioning.

        Wickham Marsh South became a favorite headlamp ski last season. Bring it on this season.


        • #12
          Day 6: Macomb Reservation State Park: Day Use Side, 1/20/2023

          I did not expect to have over a three week break since my last ski... But, here we are.
          Warm temps moved in after my ski at Wickham Marsh and destroyed what was a nice base level. Where the heck was the snow!?!

          With that all said... I am pleased to present to you another trip report.

          We finally received a decent little storm last night into today (in fact it's still snowing as I type this). With around 8" on the ground, I took Pokey over to Macomb Reservation State Park to ski on the Day Use Side after school today.

          I kinda stumbled upon Macomb last year based off a suggestion from my father who used to visit it when he was in college at PSU. Both sides of the pond/park have some great trails, hills and open spaces for XC skiing. We skied past the baseball field and followed some very fresh tracks before hopping on a small trail which was unbroken. This was some dreamy, untouched goodness. Perfect for kick'n'glide. It took us down to a nice viewpoint of Davis Pond where we turned around and followed our tracks back. We then went up a small hill to our left and skied the "upper trails." We enjoyed the beautiful scenery. The trails sometimes go near a road. But, the sight and sounds of an occasional car through the trees didn't bother us or take away from the experience.

          Snow flurries fell and decorated the trees as we sweat our butts off on the sticks. I demonstrated to Kailee how to "vent," and encouraged her to do the same when appropriate.
          We got in 90 minutes, skied the majority of trails on the day use side and had a really nice time.

          I skied Macomb quite a bit last year. And, from my experience, I've found that this park gets some really nice snow. I certainly recommend to anyone looking for a nice ski in the area.

          Fun (or not fun) Fact: Macomb Reservation is not a part of the Adirondacks. It's lies a hair outside of the Blue Line. In spite of this, the views and nearby mountains are most certainly "Adirondack." Hopefully, we don't go on another three week drought and can get back there soon!

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          • #13
            Day 7 & 4: The Flume Trails, Wilmington Wild Forest 1/21/23

            Pokey starts Ski Club tomorrow at Whiteface. Today, we drove out there to get her sized up so that things will go by quickly in the morning. Perhaps I'll have her write a short summary of her "Downhill Ski Days" on this thread?

            Anyways, after she was sized up for her gear. We made the short drive over to the Flume Trails. I first visited this system a year and a half ago and noted it would be a good place to ski.
            There's a bunch of trails here for all sorts of recreational use. We started off on the appropriately named river trail. Which required us to ski over a frozen marsh. At .4 mile, we turned right onto the Lower Connector trail. I skied down a small hill and stopped and then skied across a bridge. I hollered back to Pokey that she needed "to be careful!"

            She skied down the little hill and right onto the bridge and crossed. She said "That was scary!"

            We then hopped on the Corridor Trail and then the Delta Trails. This trail system is low hanging fruit. With only a few inches of snow on the ground, most of it was chewed up by booters. And, all of the tracks laid by previous skiers had been chewed up by booters who walked over them. I don't get it, especially when the trail is wide enough. I say this as a person who doesn't put on snowshoes or spikes until necessary. I always leave the ski track alone.

            Nevertheless, the going was mostly good.

            There were a few stretches where I remarked that we "have more snow in our yard."

            As we neared the trailhead, we had one decent sized hill that we needed to ski down. I went first and quickly realized that I was skiing down a dusting of snow on a sheet of thick ice. I felt myself losing control and quickly opted to "Put 'er down."

            My left shoulder took the brunt of it. Deciding that I didn't want to deal with the ice. I unclicked my boots and slid the skis down the hill and walked down.

            Pokey did a lot better with the hill. She made it all the way down it but the ice was too much for her to stop. She had a much better controlled crash and landed right on her butt.

            We got in the car and decided to go for a funny "Bonus gimmick ski." We went to Lake Everest Park and skied the nature trail there. How anyone can call this a nature trail? I dunno. It's maybe 1-2/10ths of a mile and follows the shore of the "lake" before passing a house and a planned building development. It takes mere minutes to walk or ski. I will say, for those who have completed a hot, sweaty hike of Whiteface and/or Esther in Summer... You may want to stop by Lake Everest for a quick dip. It's right there...

            As we got back to the car, I said "Congrats, we're the first people to ever ski that trail," with a laugh.
            A funny finale to a fun little ski day.

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            • #14
              Ski Day 5: Whiteface, 1/22/23

              By Pokey Moonshine

              Today was my first ski lesson at Whiteface. We first started by putting one ski on and doing circles, then we went down a decent size hill and practiced turning and stopping.
              After the lesson we could ski for the rest of the day so my friend and I went up the chair lift and went down a big hill a few times then I went down with my dads friends Chelsea and Dan and I got the hang of it pretty easy the snow felt pretty good on my ski's. Overall I think it was a really fun day at Whiteface and I cant wait until next Sunday

              Ski Day 8: Heyworth Mason Park, 1/22/23

              By Sun Dog

              Look, I can't compete with Pokey's Whiteface TR. I skied Heyworth Mason Park this afternoon. I went up and down the hill on the other side of the park a number of times. As hard as I tried, I could not achieve nor compare to the speeds of Pokey Moonshine flying down the Otter Trail...

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            • #15

              Day 9: Ausable Marsh 1/23/23

              Today, I was able to get in a ski at Ausable Marsh. I've been to Ausable Point Campgrounds many times in the off-seasons. But never stopped by this trailhead.

              In fact, the only TR that I've seen on here was by Makwa who only hit up part of the trail. He was there in the prime of bug season and reported that it was a mess.

              However, in Winter conditions, skiing all of the trails here is pretty interesting. It was mentioned to me a few times at recent ADK meetings. Which inspired me to pop by and check it out.

              I parked at the "upper lot," there is a gate. I walked around it, put on my skis and skied down a decent hill and under a train bridge.

              I passed a few fishing sites with designated fire pits. But, camping is not allowed in this small part of the ADK park.

              Just past the pits, there was a decent sized Summer Parking lot. Bearing right, I arrived at another gate and an informative signboard.

              DEC maintains this trail system but CATS has it included in their map and describe it as a "Trail on old road above wetland to Ausable River."

              That's a fairly accurate description. Following the "old road above the wetland" was very interesting. Many times, i have been on the other side of the swamp. This was the first seeing it from this perspective.

              I broke a ski track across the old road which squiggled it's way across the marsh. I was a little tired when i skied onto some solid land. There was a trail split. I went left as it looked like mostly skiers went this way. Within two minutes, I was at the shoreline of the Ausable.

              I skied back to the split and took the righthand trail.

              Nothing remarkable here. Just a flat ski that eventually parallels a train track.

              This trail also ends at a spot on the river where a train bridge crosses it.

              I was pretty tired from the past few days of skiing and taking a crash. So, I took a brief break before turning around.

              It was much easier skiing back on my freshly broken track. But, I do have to note that the snow today could be described as mixed conditions.

              No matter which way that I was going, I'd hit a totally random spot where one ski would stick. Then a second later, I'd be gliding with no problem. Weird thing but notable.

              Skiing back across the marsh, the sun made an appearance and reminded me that the days are getting longer.

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