Though I live only a few miles away from Gore Mountain, this winter, I decided I wanted to spend more time learning and enjoying skiing in the backcountry.
Since the backcountry touring world was new to me and I wanted to treat it with the respect it was due, I decided to head over to a local unplowed hill to test my backcountry gear.
I wanted to prepare for an upcoming exploration of Meade Mountain by practicing getting comfortable peeling and storing my climbing skins, establishing a packing system, and adjusting my bindings. Practicing on my kitchen island just didn’t feel right! Having some ice cold wind whipping in my face and making the skins flap like an eel having a stroke felt more like it.
Meade Mountain, my destination for this trip, is a tiny mountain among the giants of the Adirondacks near my home at the Llama House in Wevertown. During the summer, I usually hike Meade along with its counterpart, Beckman Mountain.
I must have hiked this trail 20+ times, and yet have not stopped being amazed by the level of reward I’m treated to from these large hills. Along with direct views of Gore Mountain and Loon Lake there’s an inviting picnic table to stop at for lunch overlooking Schroon Lake! I’ve enjoyed countless sunsets with both humans and dogs on these small, accessible trails and they always remind me why I love being in the middle of the mountains.
My plan for this warm winter day was to take 2-3 laps up to the Meade crest, on skis this time. This trail, like many in the Adirondacks, goes straight up around two miles with fewer twists or curves than you’d expect for its steepness. I was certainly appreciating the risers on my bindings going uphill and the workout you earn on the ascent and soon did a quick layer adjustment to stay comfortable and manage sweat levels. While I usually run this trail in the summer, on skis I ascended slowly allowing me to enjoy it in new ways and notice details I hadn’t picked up on my previous visits. My hiking companion and dog, Wilson, wasn’t all too happy by this new, methodical pace but he adjusted by scouting out deer paths.
Since I knew the trail well, I decided to stop at the Meade Summit and skip the saddle and lollipop section of Beckman. I was gladly sacrificing some views to avoid rolling hills which didn’t seem appealing to do on skis. We took our time enjoying the sunny views of Gore and I was struck by the evolution of my skiing endeavors as I usually only skied inbounds at the Gore Ski Resort. It was a pleasant affirmation that you don’t need gondolas and fancy lodges to have a great day of skiing.
Riding down was more fun than I had hoped. Aside from the unplowed hill, this was my first downhill action of the season and it instantly got the endorphins kicking on all cylinders. The steepness of the trail paid off in this direction and I was able to gain enough speed to make things exciting for myself. I also had the new challenge of keeping my eyes tuned on Wilson while scouting out pockets of trees I could weave between.
This new variable was quickly put to the test as a dog from a nearby home suddenly appeared on the trail. I had to disappoint Wilson by not letting him introduce himself and we skied/ran past the mystery pup as it curiously watched and tried to tag along. It 3rd wheeled with us for a brief stint before heading back uphill.
I skied up to my truck and started adjusting my gear for a second lap. Contemplating the situation with human-less doggo on the trail, I started reconsidering. I couldn’t get a good read on it while skiing downhill and I started imaging breaking up a bad situation with sharp ski blades flying past a tangle of snowy dog legs. Between that and a couple of shiny green beers staring at me, I decided I’ve had enough fun for the day. Wilson and I will be back soon enough.