Ramblin' on ice and snow

Last Monday morning, Saranac Lake again earned a mention in the national news for achieving a temperature of 36 degrees F below zero.

Unfortunately, on that particular day, International Falls, Minnesota, at 37 degrees F below was the coldest spot in the country.

Some folks didn't understand, but having a reputation for being the Nation's Icebox, holds a special honor among many communities located along the continental ice belt.

"In Saranac Lake this morning, customers flocked to the local diner, and begged the waitress to spill scalding hot coffee on their laps!"

Although Saranac Lake persistently ranks among the coldest spots in the nation, Old Forge actually has the record for attaining New York state's biggest chill, where on Feb. 18, 1979, local thermometers registered a stunning 52 degrees F below zero.

The Adirondacks have long been considered a land of extremes, where the winters are colder, the snow is deeper, and ice persists far longer than it does in other comparable locales.

"There's one good thing about snow, it makes your lawn look as nice as your neighbor's..." Clyde Moore

Locals take a unique pride in their stubborn and unrelenting ability to bare the worst weather that winter can bring. Every local has a favorite "How cold is it" joke. Cold is our element and it blows with the winter's wind.

"It's so cold in Saranac Lake, cops tazer their donuts first, so they don't chip a tooth."

Today, in nearly any mountain community, there's often somebody who can show you the way to local 'ice caves', where winter's accumulation regularly lasts all year 'round.

In my youth, I often explored ice caves located at the base of Cobble Hill in Elizabethtown, where even in mid-summer; the cave's floor remained covered with a thick black ice.

It is not uncommon to find ice caves in places like Indian Pass, the Lower Ausable Lake, the Cascades and Pitchoff. Ice Cave Mountain is located in the southern Adirondacks and the ice caves on Chimney Mountain in the Siamese Ponds Wilderness are very well known.

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