As can be expected at this point in the season, an early January thaw recently swept through the region delivering a package of warm temperatures, rain and winds gusting over 60 mph. Brown fields and green grass are again evident. The recent system greatly condensed the regions snowpack; raised water levels and made for thinner and weaker ice. Along many trails, trees have been uprooted, limbs downed and stream waters raised. As colder weather moves in, the reduced snowpack will again set up, offering a combination of crust, dust and ice for most backwoods travelers. Although a few inches of powder can be expected to accumulate on top of the dense base, skiers will have a fast surface and snowshoers probably wont need the webbed shoes at all. While a January thaw has always been a common occurrence, the severity of weather patterns certainly appears to be on the increase. Indeed, 11 of the 12 warmest years on record have occurred since 1995, a fact that presents a great threat to economies which depend on cold-weather tourism. Last weekend in Lake Placid, the popular CanAm Pond Hockey Tournament; played on the natural ice of Mirror Lake, had to be moved to the refrigerated, Olympic Speedskating Oval, as it has for three out of the past four years. Hoffman Notch Wilderness Challenge
Despite the weather, there is still plenty of outdoor entertainment available throughout the region, as several communities celebrate Winter Festivals over the next few weekends. In Schroon Lake, the third Annual Hoffman Notch Wilderness Challenge snowshoe race will be held on Saturday, Jan. 12 as a component of their annual Winter Festival. Organized by the Schroon Lake Chamber of Commerce, the event will be hosted by John Huston of Northwoods Guide Service. Last year, heavy rains forced cancellation of the wilderness based race. The 10K snowshoe race will follow the old, Wills Run trail off Hoffman Road on a course that loops around Big Pond, the largest pond in the wilderness area. The event is considered a qualifier for the Empire State Games Nordic Sprints to be hosted in Lake Placid on Feb. 22-24. Huston describes the course as being Very fast! Weve got about eight to 10 inches of good solid base making a very fast track. It is 6.2 miles with some pretty good, nasty little hills, beaver dams and a few creeks. It is billed as a Challenge and it will certainly live up to its name. Its all over in less than three hours." The event will begin at 11 am. Free demos or loaners snowshoes will be available, courtesy of Dion Snowshoes. A $17 entry fee includes a spaghetti dinner at the Awards Ceremony hosted at the Schroon Lake Fish and Game Club. Gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded in a variety of age categories. For further information on the Challenge or other Festival events, including a Bed Race along Main Street, contact the Schroon Lake Chamber of Commerce at 532-7675, or 1-800-schroon. And, if you just want to shoe, but dont feel like racing, contact Huston at 532-9745. He will be will be leading a Moonlight Snowshoe Trip on the evening of Sunday, Jan. 20 into the nearby Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area.
Local Ice Fishing Contests
A partial listing of upcoming ice fishing tournaments in the Adirondacks includes. 1/26/2008 - Annual Ice Fishing Contest on Lake Pleasant in Speculator. Sat, 7am - 4pm; Registration is required, on Fri, 5pm-9pm, or on Sat from 5am-9am. Annual Winter Fishing contest with $1500 in total prize money. Entry fee includes the Ice Fisherman's Buffet at the Speculator Inn after the contest. Sponsored by the Speculator/Lake Pleasant/Piseco Fish & Game Club. Contact: 548-3811 Website:
. 1/26/2008 - Mike Norris Memorial Ice Fishing Derby - Raquette Lake A day of fishing on Raquette Lake, prize money paid in four fish categories. Weigh-In, restrooms, food and beverage available at the Fire Hall. Registration required. Contact: 518/624-3077 or 315/354-4581 Website:
. 2/2/2008 - Northern Challenge Ice Fishing Tournament -Tupper Lake A huge ice fishing derby with the regions largest purse. It is open to only 1000 participants, with pay outs each hour for 1st, 2nd & 3rd place live catch categories. Grand prizes include two Suzuki ATVs. 888-887-5253 2/9/2008 - Annual Central Adirondacks Ice Fishing Contest: - Indian Lake: 7am - 3pm, for cash and prizes! Limited to the first 150 registered contestants. Contact Indian Lake Chamber of Commerce:648-5828, 800/328-LAKE or Website:
. 3/1-2/2008 -Annual Ice Fishing Derby - A two day event hosted on Schroon Lake. Contact: Schroon Lake Fish & Game Club-Schroon Lake - 532-7685 of Schroon Lake Chamber of Commerce at 532-7675 1-800-schroon. 3/1/2008 - Adult-Child Ice Fishing Contest-Long Lake/Forked Lake/Lake Eaton, Rte 30 Long Lake Sat, 7am-3pm; FREE Registration at the Town Hall. Developed as a fun event for families with the emphasis on the children. Adults are urged to take a child 15 and under ice-fishing. Prizes awarded to the children for the biggest pike, perch and brook trout. Contact 518/624-3077 Website:
. 3/1-2/2008 - 24 Annual Colby Classic Ice Fishing Derby-Lake Colby-Saranac Lake A two day event sponsored by the Saranac Lake Fish and Game Club offers an excellent opportunity for families to enjoy the sport while also offering the chance to cash in on tagged $100 fish. Contact: Contact Tom Foley at 891-2560 or the Blue Line Sport Shop, 891-4680