Submitted by guest blogger Kaet Wild.
Being from Buffalo, snow is nothing new to me, but somehow, I had never gotten into cross-country skiing. But, when a friend brought it to my attention as a possibility, it appeared to be a cheaper alternative to downhill skiing. Plus, I could bring my dogs along... sold!
“Have any plans for tomorrow morning?” my good bud, Tyler, asked.
“Let’s get into the woods! I still have my friend’s snowshoes!” I replied excitedly. Displeased, Tyler asked why I haven’t gotten skis yet and told me I could rent some at Blue Line Sports, a local sporting goods shop. We decided to meet there the next morning.
That morning, the staff at Blue Line sized me up with some gear and sent us on our way. Tyler has been skiing for almost five years and even races from time to time. Normally, I’d be intimidated, but fortunately, I already knew him to be an incredibly patient teacher from firsthand experience — he is also teaching me to play banjo, which is proving to be much more difficult than skiing.
To the bog
We headed out to the Bloomingdale Bog Trail with my pup, Murphy. I’m told this trail is great for beginners because it’s: A) flat and B) straight. It’s an old railroad line that runs 3.8 miles from Route 86 in Saranac Lake to Route 55 in Bloomingdale.
We started from the Route 55 end of the trail and parked right on the road. Tyler helped me click my boots into my skis which was actually pretty simple, just a snap into place.
I asked, “Now what?” I no longer felt stable. My toes were locked into place, but my heels were still free to lift from the ski. I had to maneuver myself through a narrow opening beside the gate, and I wished I’d put my skis on on the other side.
At first, I relied heavily on my poles. Then Tyler showed me how to shift my weight onto my planted foot and simultaneously glide my other foot forward while lifting the heel of my planted foot. He had me practice without poles which helped me find my balance and get used to the motions. I’d like to believe my background in yoga helped a bit too — keeping a slight bend in my knees and my tailbone tucked became my secret weapons in stability.
On the move
It was a beautifully snowy day and the conditions were near perfect. There were even a couple of tracks from previous skiers to follow, which made an easy trail even easier. The trail is wide and lined with spruces, balsams, and tamaracks. Every branch of every tree was covered with inches of white, fluffy snow. As we skied along, we admired the winter wonderland while snow continued to fall and wet our faces. We skied only about a mile to Two Bridge Brook, a small bridge with a nice view of the bog on either side.
On the way back, we stopped at a rad spot with a wooden bird feeder someone had placed along the trail. You can leave snacks for the birds there. Some great things to feed to wild birds are black oil sunflower seeds, mullet, oats, cracked corn, suet, or mealworms. However, please don’t feed them bread as it is actually quite unhealthy for them.
We spent some time holding out oat-filled palms and waiting for the chickadees and gray jays to perch upon us. I’m not going to lie, I felt like a princess in a Disney movie that had made friends with the wildlife. I’ve never been more tempted to belt out “Paint with all the Colors of the Wind,” but for the birds' and Tyler’s sake, I restrained myself.
By the end of our adventure I had fallen only once, the same number of times that my experienced pal fell that day.
“Guess I’m a natural,” I sarcastically said as I shrugged at Ty.
He responded wittily, “Well, at least on flat, straight trails.”
To get to the the south entrance of the Bloomingdale Bog trail, take Route 86 west out of Saranac Lake, toward Paul Smiths. Drive about 1.6 miles. The entrance is a dirt road on the right that dips down to a small parking area.
To get to the north entrance, take Route 3 east out of Saranac Lake, heading toward Bloomingdale. Continue on Route 3 for about 6.2 miles. Go straight through the four-way intersection in the hamlet of Bloomingdale, turn left onto St. Regis Avenue, and continue onto Bloomingdale-Gabriels Road (Route 55). Drive 1.3 miles to the trailhead where the Bloomingdale Bog Trail crosses Route 55. There is room to pull off and park on either side of the road.
Interested in cross-country skiing one of the many scenic trails near Saranac Lake? Start planning your trip today! After a day of skiing, sit back and relax with a warm meal at one of our delicous and unique restaurants.