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Turning back time

Notes from the North Woods

A rusty bullwheel from an old T-Bar at Otis Mountain is slowly being lost to an ever encroaching forest.

A rusty bullwheel from an old T-Bar at Otis Mountain is slowly being lost to an ever encroaching forest.

According to most calendars, the spring season officially arrives during the month of March. However, in the Adirondack region, where the average weather is always a bit extreme, winter tends to linger a little longer than it does in the rest of the state.

Although the loitering winter weather often suppresses the timely transition to spring, it also provides a fortunate opportunity for local winter sports enthusiasts, as well as others who travel north to enjoy the ice and snow.

Last weekend, I enjoyed an opportunity to join forces with supporters of both entities, as locals and visitors alike joined together at Otis Mountain Ski Center in Elizabethtown to celebrate the 11th Annual Adirondack Backcountry Ski Festival.

Hosted by The Mountaineer in Keene Valley, proceeds from the annual festival are used to benefit the NYS Ski Education Foundation’s Nordic racing programs and the Adirondack Ski Touring Council, custodians of the popular Jackrabbit Trail, which connects communities from Keene all the way to Paul Smiths.

The weekend program offered an assortment of ski clinics, guided backcountry ski adventures, a demo day and a wonderful dinner at the Keene Valley Lodge. The event culminated with an assortment of slide and video presentations that were enjoyed by a lively group of active outdoor enthusiasts.

The guided tours in the High Peaks offered extreme skiing adventures on some of the mountain slides created by Hurricane Irene, while others sent skiers down the winding wooded trails of Mt. Marcy, Wrights Peak and Johns Brook Valley.

However, I chose to participate in a more exciting adventure, which brought me back to the more modest ski slopes of my youth at a Demo Day event hosted at Otis Mountain in Elizabethtown. Formerly a public ski center, the small hill is now in private ownership.

When I arrived in the late morning, there was already a sizable crowd assembled around the large display of demo gear.

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

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