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Notes from the North Woods

A recent reversal in the region's winter weather pattern, earlier in the week, ushered in a mix of steady rain and high winds. The brief thaw served to further compact an already dense snowpack.

Last weekend, I spent most of my time skiing the backcountry, where I discovered conditions were beyond ideal. The deep snowpack, which had been secured with a thick upper crust that permitted quick and easy travel for skiers and 'shoers alike.

In the upper elevations, the accumulated snowpack of about five to six feet made it easy to travel through areas of thick foliage and over heavy blowdown.

Such conditions allow travelers to cover alot of territory off trail that includes swamps, wetland bogs, and thick balsam summits that are usually inaccessable at other times of the year.

Backcounty skiers return to the valley

Hopefully, snow condictions will hold up for the coming weekend, as outdoor enthusiasts will again flock to Keene Valley for The Mountaineer's Ninth Annual Adirondack Backcountry Ski Festival.

The annual gathering, a benefit event that supports both the New York State Ski Education Foundation's Nordic racing programs and the Adirondack Ski Touring Council, stewards of famous Jackrabbit Trail, features a wide range of backcountry ski tours that are hosted by local backcountry guides and a series of demos and mini clinics that will be held at Otis Mountain in Elizabethtown.

On Saturday evening, Heather Paul, a Marmot athlete, ski racer and winter mountaineer who has tackled snow covered terrain ranging from in Alaska to China, and many points between, will deliver a presentation and slide show. The event will hosted at the Keene Valley Firehall and the public is welcome to attend. Admission is $10/per person.

As usual, the gathering will include demos and mini clinics hosted at Otis Mountain in Elizabethtown on Saturday. Otis is a private ski area that offers a great venue for testing out the latest skis and boots as well as clinics on skinning, telemark skiing and more. Mini-clinics and demos will be free of charge! For further information, please contact The Mountaineer at 576-2281.

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