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Skiing into the past

My guests, driving a rental car from the Albany Airport, arrived early and we spent a full day packing up food, gear and some serious ski lessons.

We set off on the Northville Placid Trail from the Tarbell Hill Road on the outskirts of the village of Long Lake the following afternoon. Due to a last minute change in plans, our four day trip had to be condensed to three and a half.

The trail, which winds along the forested, east shore of Long Lake, presented a series of obstacles including exposed roots and rocks and numerous sections of steep, sinuous travel which were not well suited for skiers with heavy packs.

As a result, I decided to ski the lake and with a stiff wind at our backs, we made it to the Plumley Point leanto as darkness fell. As my guests fumbled for a change of clothes, I fired up the stove and cooked the evening meal.

The following morning, we awoke to a raging blizzard and ate our breakfast in near silence. I knew it would be a huge expenditure of energy to reach Oluska Pass shelter, our destination for the day, so I piled the pancakes high.

My plan worked. We skied hard all morning and made it to Shattuck Clearing before noon. But, I hadn't accounted for ice jams along the Cold River which had obliterated complete sections of the trail.

After a few hours of struggling along the banks of the river, we skied to higher ground and collapsed in the shelter as a full moon lit the scene. Again, sleep came easily after a quick dinner and cleanup.

Facing another day on the trail, we stirred from our sleeping bags to a foot of fresh, heavy, wet snow. Temperatures were already in the high 30's as we skied off to Duck Hole.

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