November 22, 2014
Snow has been Falling
The almost daily snowfalls of the past week have quickly transformed our landscape to look a bit like February, and as I walked Wren the other day I realized it might be worth swapping my boots for skis. And so, we headed out in the evening to the North end of the Bloomingdale Bog Trail. The sky was mostly clear and the air was cold as we set out; me on my old, beater, rock skis which I should have abandoned years ago. They are heavy, slow, scratched, and I scared the last vestige of camber from them years ago, but I still hang onto them. They are good for times like this when I’m concerned about snow depth and I could potentially scrape as I ski.
But... I did not scrape. In fact the coverage was good and we moved along smoothly in the cold glow of my headlamp. We were only doing a short ski – I find it best to break my body in slowly to the skiing motion when I haven’t been doing it for a while. But the ski was long enough to tire us out and both Wren and I arrived back at the car with commendable ice beards thanks to the cold. We seldom get ice beards in November.
A Longer Return Trip
Two days later we were back on the trail, this time after several more inches had fallen. The sun glowed high and the air was again cold, but I was happy to not deal with the predicted cold night that was forecast to come. This time I had waxed a nicer pair of skis – the set I generally use on the trail - and so I was excited to be off the clunkers and onto something faster, even if the order of the day was another slow, easy, break-the-body-in ski.
We set off heading north from the north end of the bog trail, pausing here and there to take in the snow-laden spruce and fir branches, small wetlands where the streams still bubbled freely, and a variety of animal tracks. For the most part we noted red squirrel tracks and I initially had some difficulty in finding tracks of snowshoe hare. There were lots of dog tracks from previous skiers and Wren was unintentionally wiping out many of the tracks ahead of me as she followed her nose from scent to scent. I paused at the beaver meadow about a half mile north of Bigelow Road and snapped a few photos, while Wren busied her nose with the news of the prior night. I noticed a series of mink tracks which came up from the wetland and crossed the path following a trickle of water.
Following the Tracks of a Fox
We skied on and eventually reached a point where no one had yet skied, so we began setting a new ski track as we went. Instead of following ski tracks, we followed the tracks of a red fox which had trotted down the trail the previous evening, its prints now dusted with snow. The evenly spaced dainty dints were strung together and I felt a bit like I was following the marked paces on a treasure map. It was a sort of a connect-the-dot path to skiing adventure. Here and there the fox doubled back on itself, ruining this dotted effect, or swung loops off the trail as it foraged, but each time it would come back to the trail and continue to string together my directional cues. Then a snowshoe hare took over for a stint as the track setter, only to quickly turn off the trail and leave the role to the fox.
I finally decided to turn – I was quite hungry by this point and was looking forward to some food. So Wren and I spun around and followed my tracks back to where they linked up with the more established ski tracks of others. We made quick work of the return, Wren racing ahead of me and me making faster progress than I had on the way out. As we drove home along Route 86 I took in the snowy peaks of Whiteface and Mt. McKenzie, awed by the frosty panorama. It had been a great day for a ski. And to think the season is only just beginning.
Looking for some great food options after your day on the trail? Where will your first cross-country ski of the season be? And, don't forget to check out all of your options for great apres-ski events in the area!