Unfortunately for those of us who love to play in the snow, our temperatures have been fluctuating widely this ski season. Our warm ups have been followed closely by deep freezes, creating an icy base and constantly varying conditions. As a result you can’t waste time in enjoying good ski conditions – otherwise they may deteriorate with the next warm spell.
With this weekend’s rain bearing down upon us, Wren and I took advantage of our decent conditions and skied a few times on the Bloomingdale Bog Trail. Flatter paths with less rocks and roots are always better when snow conditions aren’t optimal, and the bog trail cuts through some great natural areas.
Earlier in the day we had walked south from the north end of the bog trail to look at the Black-capped Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and Gray Jays coming to the makeshift feeder near the power lines so I knew that the snow conditions were as good along the north end of the trail as they would be anywhere in the region.
On this trip Wren and I set out heading north from the north end of the bog trail, making smooth progress to Bigelow Road. The conditions the entire time were fairly fast but my poles did have some difficulty in pushing off from the icy base and at times skipped off the hard surface. If you head out anywhere in the region be mindful of uneven ice underneath the snow which could potentially catch ski edges or scratch their bottoms.
Despite this challenge, the track was fast and we soon reached the old beaver meadow a half mile north of Bigelow Road and I stopped as I always do to look for any wildlife and listen for birds there. The woods were largely quiet during our ski, although I did hear Golden-crowned Kinglets and Red-breasted Nuthatches. The only signs of wildlife I found at the meadow were the tracks of Snowshoe Hare, although Wren likely smelled other things as well. We continued on making fast progress on the gradual hill that takes skiers north through a long stretch of coniferous forest. I was soon approaching Swinyer Road – about two and a half miles from where I parked, so I used it as a turnaround for a five mile ski.
The great thing about the sloping hill is that you get to head down it as you return skiing south and I cruised along double poling and occasionally kicking as Wren happily trotted ahead. We paused again at the beaver meadow to enjoy the view in the growing shadows of evening. Then we raced ahead again, being careful to slow down near the yellow gate at Bigelow Road where the snowmobiles often chew up the snow and make for rougher conditions. We returned to the car tired and hungry for dinner which we both greedily consumed.