A relaxing ski - maybe?
Patti and I didn't cross-country ski together much this winter as our schedules did not mesh. Finally, we set an outing date! Thinking we would have a leisurely ski, I picked up a few things at Shaheen’s IGA and Boulevard Wine & Spirits to celebrate: cheese, crackers, bread, tomato bruschetta, and a mini Bota Box of red wine!
Deer Pond Loop
We met at the Deer Pond access that's just a few miles east of Tupper Lake, geared up, and headed out at 11:30 a.m. Within the first 15 minutes we met two fun-loving ladies and their three dogs as they were headed back to the parking lot. We chatted and learned one had traveled from Saranac Lake and the other from Lake Placid. With a little persuasion, both allowed me to photograph them. We did not meet anyone else on the trail.
At the intersection we decided to do the Deer Pond Loop, as conditions were great! Fresh snow had recently fallen, so the trails and the trees were covered with a gorgeous, fluffy white blanket.
The beginning of this trail has a series of wooden planks, so adequate snow coverage is needed. There are gaps between the planks and there are sections where you don’t want to fall off of them. Once through the series of planking, we crossed a bridge with a huge hole to the right of it. I sidestepped up the side of the bridge, turned forward once on top, and skied across it. Patti chose not to go over the bridge, but around it through an obstacle course composed of trees. We did some laughing — she warned me not to fall in the hole and then stated, “Oh no! I don’t want to fall in the hole either!” She was near it, but she skillfully avoided the dreaded deep hole!
Not for the weak!
We came upon a stream and managed to keep our skis dry while crossing it. Within a few feet we were at the bottom of a long, steep hill. I did the Herringbone up the hill, didn’t plant my pole securely, and landed flat on my stomach with a face plant! Falling was not the problem, getting up was! There were many more hills — up and down, and down and around corners! The 2.9-mile trek into Deer Pond seemed very long!
Finally we reached Deer Pond, a large water body with a magnificent view of Whiteface Mountain, and my phone died. No more pics! Signage indicated that Lead Pond was 2 miles to the right and Wawbeek Road was 2 miles to the left. With our late start there was no time to venture to Lead Pond; we had a good distance to go ahead of us. The yellow trail markers became sparse, so we were thankful for the now-faint ski tracks.
Water or wine break?
At our water break I pulled out the surprise goodies. We poured a scant portion of wine into the Styrofoam cups and filled our small bowls with food. We ate fast, because at 17 degrees it was too cold to stand around. Even with a short stop, my hands were ice cold. I used hand warmers to warm them and gave one to Patti when she showed me her frozen glove!
Back on the skis
Getting back on the skis was not so easy for Patti because one ski would not stay on! She thought her binding was frozen and she was right! She would get the ski on, advance 1 to 5 feet, and her ski would pop off. We tried to clean her binding with the tip of a pole and with a plastic bottle opener, but the problem continued. She then slid the strap of her pole back and forth in the groove while I held it open, and it worked!
Water, wine, and food break
This side of the loop was easier, but there were obstacles! I could not go under one downed tree with my pack, and I never thought to take the pack off. It was too high to climb over, so with my knees on my skis I scooted under the tree, pushing with my hands as I went. That was easy until I had to get back up!
We came to another pond and lost sight of the ski tracks for a bit. The skier had ventured onto the pond, which neither of us wanted to do. Both of us kept our eyes out for the yellow markers; luckily they were plentiful as this point.
The forest thickened and we skied though narrow passages. Evergreens lined both sides and there was barely enough room for us to get through. The paths up many of the hills were too narrow to do the herringbone, so we side packed up them. We had to go slow on the downhills as it was hard to see what was ahead on the narrow path, but it was so beautiful! We passed another pond and it seemed to take forever to reach Old Wawbeek Road. I always carry a head lamp, but I really didn't want to use it!
The last leg
Finally, we reached Wawbeek Road! We arrived at our vehicles around 5:30 p.m. In my opinion, this trail is for the more advanced skier due to the number of hills, thick forest, and 7.3-mile length. We were thankful for our wonderful outing, but vowed to start earlier and bring a map next time!