Skiing cross-country trails for fitness and training
There's nothing like cross-country skiing in a Nordic center with a really huge pack on your back and snowshoes attached to that. We always get some of the craziest looks from other users, but these centers are great training tools to ski mountaineering. Where back-country trails sometimes lack the ample snow depths and good conditions till late in the season for training, this ski network of trails does not.
Of course I would be lying if I said that was the only reason we go there. We love the center to get a good few laps of skiing in for a cardiovascular workout as well. On this particular day we managed to get in both.
Corenne and I enjoy combining skiing and snowshoeing, especially when considering long days on the trail. In a case like this we were planning to do several High Peaks over the winter that involved ski approaching to the base of the mountain and then snowshoeing to the summit. We had Seward's, Allen, Colvin and Blake, Sawteeth, and a few others on our radar for this approach. The problem with this is the large pack that we carry in the winter. We have everything to fill our trail needs and the needs of an emergency - if something were to happen and we needed to spend the night in the woods. Our packs exceed 25 pounds in the winter without blinking an eye. Then we strap snowshoes to the back of the packs and the skis to our feet and we go. The problem of skiing with a big pack, for me anyhow, is balance; these trails help me get my legs under me before we head out on the trail to do more demanding undertakings. The trails also help me get used to the large pack on my back that has been hibernating since the previous winter.
Hitting the road we ended up at the country club trails late in the morning, with a slight overcast around us. We greeted a few people who asked us what we were doing with such large packs and wide skis, we explained our idea of winter approach skiing and training, and they thought it was a bit odd to do it here but they went with it, I think. We signed in at the trail register near the parking area, threw a few bucks in the donation pot and off we went.
We started out on the Golf Course Loop which is where the system starts; we immediately entered the trees on a nicely groomed surface before being kicked back out onto the fairway, oddly similar to my approach at golfing. As we made our way down the course we quickly came to the Cranberry Pond Trail and decided to follow this in a counterclockwise direction, for no other reason than we needed to make a decision. It was nice to have trail maps at the intersection. We quickly worked our way along the pond, but I needed to explore so I decided to drop over the embankment onto the pond for better pictures, this was all fine and dandy until I needed to get back up the embankment. The embankment was way too steep in this spot to even try, even though I did try, and try again. I skied the edge and eventually the trail came down to me.
Moving on we came to the Little Logger Loop which is more of an intermediate ski trail, again we went in a counterclockwise direction. We encountered a decent little hill part way in, it was nice to get a bit of elevation under our belts. We progressed this rather quickly and got our heart rates up a bit. We decided to pass by the Big Tupper Trail which is an out and back of 1.2 miles. Then we opted to head left along an old woods/skidder road and continue on the Little Logger Loop. This was a very easy kick and glide which quickly brought us to the back portion of the trail; which was not groomed at all. This was what we wanted - to push through deep snow with no trail and really get a good workout, it didn't last long. Soon it would end up being groomed once again, but we did get a bit of distance in and even left the trail for a bit to get a few extra feet of breaking trail under our belt. Then it finally came, a nice little hill to fall on, I mean ride out. We coasted along this S-turned downhill section with the wind in our hair, knees bent, arms forward, and fingers crossed. The fingers crossed must have worked because it was a nice little ride. My skies chattered a bit and at one point got locked in the track, but almost as soon as it got stuck I removed it to ski on one leg for a few feet - didn't know I could do that trick. We soon found ourselves back by Cranberry Pond (which I didn't ski down to again) and then back on the golf course. We continued around that trail just to finish it off on our tick list of things to do. Back at the parking lot we ran into another couple with curiosity on their mind, but they didn't ask.
From here we found ourselves back in the cold car with leather seats, praying that the seat warmers would kick into high gear. A quick stop at Larkins on the way out of town was all that was needed to end a good day in the snow. Are you interested in learning to cross-country ski? See what one of our local guide services can do for you to get you tuned into a new sport. Prefer to snowshoe? These trails also work great for a nice afternoon family outing. The Tupper Lake region also has tons of trails for skiing and snowshoeing, so be sure to adventure out this winter and see what we have to offer the outdoor recreationalist in you.