Big Snow!!!!!

A Tantalizing Forecast

I noticed the prediction for snow over a week in advance — my work and interests require me to check the weather regularly. But then forecasters played with our hearts and minds, increasing the projection for snow the one day, only to drop it the next.

Accurately foreseeing the weather (and something as specific as snowfall) is a difficult thing to do, no matter how solid the science. But as we reached the new week, forecasters held pretty firm on their prognostication — we were going to get slammed. It was just a question of how to determine the depth.

As it turned out, we got even more snow than what was anticipated — and coastal areas were largely spared deep drifts. But we’ll take it — with our wild and variable climate and weather this winter, many of us have been screaming for snow! Even folks looking forward to spring have to admit that if the snow melts early we only succeed in ending up with a longer period of time with ice and mud. Snow is much better for adventure-seekers, photographers, and vista-enthusiasts alike, and no matter how others try to frame it, March is a winter month.

Wren - Bog Trail

Skiing During the Storm

And so the storm came. It started slowly enough and after a few hours, I took Wren out for a ski on the south end of the Bloomingdale Bog Trail. The idea was to go when we had enough snow on the ground but before it became too heavy on the roads. As it turned out, I managed to ding my old skis on underlying rocks, so I should have waited a bit longer to head out, but we had a nice time and I stopped in the bog to take photos of the snow as the intensity of the storm increased. That jump in ferocity was even more obvious as we drove home on largely empty streets and settled to work on my writing through the afternoon.

I heard we might see 2 inches of snow fall an hour, but when I looked outside I could see the rate was much faster than that. But I kept working, and after being inside for about four hours I stepped outside only to realize I had made a mistake by staying inside so long! I had already shoveled off the first few inches before Wren and I went skiing, but there were about 20 inches on my deck and driveway!

That’s an average rate of 5 inches per hour! I set to work moving it off the deck and driveway, fighting a losing battle as it continued to fall heavily. Wren alternated between playing with her ball in the snow, and quietly watching me from the top step. She seemed amused by the whole thing. I was, too — laughing at the hilarity of receiving so much snow at once, and calling out like King Lear in the blowing wind. My neighbor yelled over, leaning on his shovel: “I wish we got this three months ago!” I agreed, but we were both happy to have it now — it should set up good skiing for the next few weeks.

Wren - deck snow

Lots of Shoveling!

The following morning held a sense of anticipation about how much more snow would greet me when I looked outside. It was about another 7 inches or so, but the mound at the end of the driveway, courtesy of the plows, was nearly high enough to be a named peak by the 46ers! I hadn’t touched much of the driveway the previous evening. I measured over 29 inches of snow in a few un-drifted spots, a depth which would climb during that day and the following evening, when a few more inches of snow fell to push us easily above 30 inches in my neighborhood. I had work to do.

Snow removal can be fun so long as it is paced, and I was anticipating the chance to explore the woods once we could get out of the driveway. The process took a few hours, and I broke it up by taking some photos of my progress and of a snowy Wren — who once again seemed wonderfully oblivious to responsibility as she played with her ball in the snow and then chewed it to pieces. We’ll find pieces of it in April. After taking a break for lunch and some indoor work (which somehow was supposed to get done with so much to do outside), I readied myself for a ski. It was just a question of how much energy I had and where I could park to get on a trail.Wren - diving snow pile

Breaking Trail

I was not surprised that the Jackrabbit Trail parking area on McKenzie Pond Road wasn't plowed, and rather than start along the railroad tracks at North Country Community College we drove on the snow-covered roads to Lake Clear, where we could access the trails which lead toward Fish Pond. A few folks had cut the first few hundred meters to Little Clear Pond, but that was it. No one had taken the initiative to begin the trail as it leads to Little Green Pond and beyond.Wren Lake Clear Snow

I could hardly blame them. Breaking a trail is hard work. And cutting through 30 inches of snow is arduous. But as a glutton for physical punishment, I figured I should do my part to get the trail started — slowly. Each leg had to be lifted high enough through the snow to keep moving, and I could feel my quads and hip flexors grumble as the snow weighed down my skis.

Wren watched my slow progress from the more kicked-in trail started by others, wondering what was possessing me to idiotically push through the snow and whether she should follow me. I turned and looked at her. She simply stared back as if the say, “That’s too deep — this is much easier!” I kept going. I turned again and she remained fixed on the kicked-in portion of the trail, watching me. I could almost hear her perplexed thoughts. “Why does this dude have to be so stubbornly stupid?”Wren - snow yard

But her loyalty finally won out over her disinclination to wade through snow above her head, and she was soon on my ski tails as I pressed my way one leg at a time. Wren was quite happy when I finally gave in and turned us around after I had covered enough distance to think I did something. The next skier will be able to add another half mile, and then the next skier another, and so on. If they come in groups, skiers will be able to break even more trail by trading off the lead person. Soon we'll have a trail into Fish Pond. Be sure to stretch your hip flexors and quadriceps if you try it in the coming days!

Wren Snow Face

The following day the Jackrabbit Trail parking area had been plowed out and we took advantage of it. The trail was deep, soft, and slow, but with relief and happiness we exploited the lane kicked in by others, and the trail will continue to get better as we ski it over the coming days.

The coming week (or weeks) promise to be great for skiing. Don’t put your skis and poles away yet — there are miles of trails and deep, deep, deep white powder to explore! Check out our outdoor recreation, lodging, and dining pages to plan your trip.



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About The Author

Alan Belford has spent much of his life outdoors exploring and learning about wildlife – particularly birds. Alan is often out hiking, paddling, running, or cross country skiing – with his Labrador retriever Wren at this side. A certified teacher and former cross country, baseball, and ultimate frisbee coach, he loves teaching others and has taught multiple natural history (specializing in ornithology) courses for both college students and the general public. He is a licensed guide in New York State, he has traveled widely both domestically and internationally, and he is also a published travel writer and photographer – focusing on outdoor and nature writing.

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