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Winter slowly relents

As the long winter begins to wind down, temperatures have begun to moderate and the hours of daylight are growing longer. With a solid snow base in the woods and safe ice on the lakes, the month of March is the ideal time to get out and enjoy the remainder of the winter season.

I've already seen the first batch of snow fleas on the ski trails and had two reports of chipmunks already out on the prowl.

Earlier in the week, I witnessed the first fresh bear tracks of the year. It is not uncommon, when a thaw removes the snow cover from a den established in a root system or a blowdown; for a bruin to get up and seek an alternative shelter.

For the outdoor enthusiast, March looks to be a busy month.

Skiers flock to the mountains

Skiers from across the east will soon be heading to Keene Valley to attend the 7th annual Adirondack Backcountry Skifest, an annual event, scheduled for the weekend of March 7-8. Featuring tours and clinics, the program has traditionally be hosted entirely in the Adirondack backcountry.

New for this year, demos and free mini clinics will be held at Otis Mountain in Elizabethtown on Saturday. Otis Mtn., a privately owned local ski area is an outstanding venue to demo the latest skis and gear.

Clinics for skinning, beacon search and more. Mini-clinics and demos will be free of charge!Evening entertainment will include slides, tight trails and long tours. Contact The mountaineer at 576-2281 for further information and registration.

The Skifest is a benefit event supporting the New York State Ski Education Foundation's Nordic racing programs and the Adirondack Ski Touring Council, stewards of the famous Jackrabbit Trail that winds through the woods from Keene to Paul Smiths.

Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at brookside18@adelphia.net.

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