Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018
Showing posts with label USA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label USA. Show all posts

Monday, 22 February 2016

Friday 19 to Sunday 21 February 2016 - A Trip to the Adirondacks


Friday dawned grey in Ottawa. We left town via Sail, a shop that sells all things outdoors. I inspected electric gloves and came away bemused by the array of choices. I love to hate such shops, where tacky stuff lines up with quality items but there's no real way of knowing which is which. Maybe it's all quality stuff - I'm sure Sail would argue that case - but I find the choice so overwhelming that I have to make a quick exit.

About a four hour drive from Ottawa is Lake Placid, in the Adirondack mountain region where about fifty summits rise above 4000 feet, which is occasionally above the tree line.

Nearly half way along the route, beyond Cornwall and the St Lawrence river, the US border officials politely detained us for 30 minutes whilst they established that we were not a threat to security. Apart from paying $14 each for an 'ESTA' certificate we now had to pay a further $6 each for the privilege of another stamp in our passports. Hopefully certain other (safer) countries won't regard these stamps with the same suspicion as the US regards theirs.

Before the border, we had passed the bridge that used to take traffic over the St Lawrence. A different route is now used for large vessels, so the old bridge has been replaced by a much lower toll bridge. The old structure is slowly being demolished; the roadway used to be on the very top of the supports pictured below.


After a snack in a 'Dodgy Donut' shop in a run down town called Malone, we continued on past grimy houses clad with washboard, or metal for the posher residences, wending our way slowly towards Lake Placid, and the delights of a Spruce Lodge town house. Very nice it was too.


A trip to a supermarket saw to our immediate needs, and Susan and Roy rolled in from Glastonbury (Connecticut) to make up our complement of five.

Meanwhile, Ken was enjoying the camaraderie of the 'Gold dorm' before starting the 160 km Canadian Ski Marathon (CSM) on which we've reported before.

A pleasant evening was spent catching up with Susan and Roy and discussing options for the morrow. There's hardly any snow here, so inclusion of our skiing gear was wildly optimistic!


Overnight snow raised our hopes, but only very briefly. Only a couple of centimetres had fallen. Not enough.

Helen had a relaxing agenda involving a shopping trip for Ken. The rest of us went to Adirondacks Loj car park for the short ascent of Mount Jo, 2876 feet.


Microspikes and Yaktrax were appropriate footwear for the steep ascent over ice that was clad with the small amount of soft overnight snow.

Here we all are on the rocky summit with views to some of the higher peaks to the south.


We’d ascended by the steeper ‘Short Route’, and now we descended by the ‘Long Route’, which also had steep sections laced with ice.


Lower down, the path follows the course of a stream. In summer the path would be beside the stream, but now it simply careers down the frozen waterway, presenting a minor challenge for the Microspikes.


Heart Lake lies at the bottom of the hill, looking like a small frozen sea today.


Adirondacks Loj (sic) provided a cosy place to eat our butties and watch the drizzle increase outside. After a walk of just 5.5 km in the morning we were tempted by an afternoon walk in the woods up to Marcy Dam – an 8 km there and back trip.


It rained. Here are Sue and Roy on the reservoir, seen from the dam. People coming down from the summits reported full winter conditions. We were happy to turn back into the relative shelter of the woods.


After another sociable evening at Spruce Lodge, where two roast chickens and a pile of roast vegetables fuelled us, we awoke to a rainy Sunday.

Susan and Roy managed a three and a half hour walk up to the Porter and Cascade summits (well done them), whilst the rest of us drove back to Ottawa for lunch. We didn’t feel that we were missing too much in the limited visibility, though we understand S and R did get some views on their descent.


Mooney’s Bay provided scope for the three of us to get some exercise in the sunshine, a five minute drive from home, but the skiing conditions, after a Saturday of rain and +7C temperatures, were fairly desperate, with standing water in the tracks and very messy wax being needed to get any grip at all. Helen’s waxless skis were definitely the best option for today.


Later, Ken arrived home after completing just seven of the ten CSM stages. More of that later, as I’m now under pressure to finish this entry on a sunny Monday morning, wax the skis, and get off to Gatineau Park, where today’s conditions may be ok.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Sunday 8 February 2015 – The Whiteface Resort


For our final day of this holiday within a holiday, we headed to the Whiteface Resort in Lake Placid, which had been recced by Helen yesterday.

It comprises a series of short sections of well groomed undulating trails, on which a one-way system operates. A mix of picturesque woodland and open country makes for a most pleasant experience, albeit there are only 6-7 km of trails. We enjoyed two circuits of about 5 km each, punctuated by a long coffee break and followed by lunch in the comfortable lodge. Then we said our farewells to Susan and Roy, who had a long drive back to Glastonbury, and we set off ourselves into the snow that had been falling since we left Ottawa on Friday. For much of the journey home this snow mutated into freezing rain, despite the temperature of minus 16C.

A longer skiing route, the Jackrabbit Trail, passes through all three of this weekend’s Cross Country skiing venues.


Roy is shown below on today’s trail. We had nearly a foot of snow overnight and Roy had tried to ski through this fresh snow instead of the groomed trail. He chose a steep hill on which to experiment, and after the resultant somersaults he was still smiling. We hope the imminent operation on his broken wrist (broken in a cycling accident last year) is more successful than the original surgery.


We also hope that Sue recovers quickly from the stomach upset that competed with the freezing rain to blight our journey home.

Meanwhile, Ken managed all five stages (80 km) of the Canadian Ski Marathon on Saturday, spending the night at the ‘Gold Camp’. But in today’s tough conditions he decided to call it a day after just two sections, eventually arriving back home at 8.30 pm, with split boots (due to ‘the cold’) and split thumbs (due to ‘the cold’). He’s coming to the UK in April. We’ve found something a bit easier for him to tackle!

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Saturday 7 February 2015 - Mt Van Hoevenberg Ski Trails

Light snow continued to fall overnight,  giving good skiing conditions if a distinct lack of mountain views in this area where the 46 Adirondack summits over 4000 feet in height are 'bagged' by locals in much the same way as the Wainwrights are bagged in England. Well, that's not quite true as most of the 'Wainwrights' offer splendid views, whereas here (I believe) many of the summits are below the tree line.

After a hearty breakfast in Susan and Roy's adjoining room, Helen (full of cold) went off to explore the facilities at the nearby Whiteface Club and Resort (a bit like Mooney's Bay, she later reported) whilst the rest of us took a trip to the Mt Van Hoevenberg skiing complex.

A good choice. The trails here were used in both the 1932 and the 1980 Winter Olympics. After a relatively easy 10 km warm up in the north west corner of the complex, where a biathlon contest was due to take place later, we paused for an early lunch in the Cross Country Lodge, a warm, welcoming and busy spot. 

Then it was on to the Porter Mountain Ski Loops and the Ladies 5 km Olympic Circuit. The Loops reminded us of the Burma Road trail in Gatineau Park, but here the hills were a little bigger, if not steeper. Anyway, it was great fun even if I did struggle to keep up. I'm regretting replacing my old skis as the new ones - as of last year - seem to have a 'drag factor' that makes them rather slower. They simply refuse to glide.

After that 13 km we returned to the Lodge for a second lunch, before embarking on a further 7 km of action on the North Brook Trail and the Flatlander Extension Loop (a nice wind down), taking our total for the day to a little over 30 km.

It snowed gently all day - soft, fluffy stuff, so all we really saw was snowy woodland and intricate systems set up to tap into the local syrup factories - the maple trees common to this area. 

Dinner in Cascade Mountain Inn, followed by a slideshow of Susan's Tasmanian pictures nicely rounded off an excellent day.

Sent from Lake Placid

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Friday 6 February 2015 - A Trip to Lake Placid

It was minus 20 with flurries this morning in Ottawa. Skiing would be cold.

Snow Crystals glinting in the sunshine brightened our day as Sue, Helen and I drove towards the St Lawrence River at Cornwall. Two big bridges to convey us to the USA, plus a magnificent old structure that is being dismantled. 

Three month visas were granted with a rare gesture of pleasantness from the staff on the border.

New York State - deserted farm buildings amongst farmland and forestry. Snow flurries with spindrift.
Through Malone we went, and into the Adirondack area with its lakes, forests and mountains.  The forests are laden with snow and a haze of blizzardy spindrift, with little sign of the lakes and none of the mountains. 

Past washboard houses in pale shades of grey and green and blue. 

Past an ice castle at Saranac Lake, then at last a pause - at Dunkin Donuts for lunch.

On then to our home for the night in the small town of Lake Placid, over which tower a couple of massive ski jumps that were used in the 1980 Winter Olympics. 

After a brief and slightly alarming interlude involving a local bank, we drove up to the Cascades ski centre. A compact area where a series of narrow trails led us to a clearing.

Susan and Roy were there,  having driven up from Glastonbury (Connecticut) this morning. Well, Susan only really passed briefly through her home, having commenced her journey in Tasmania yesterday.

We managed to clock up a fun filled 10 km of skiing in a couple of hours on the excellent trails, before adjourning for beers/coffees etc, then back to the hotel, and a happy evening in a Rustic Restaurant before a walk home in the snow.

Meanwhile, Ken was busy installing himself in a massive dormitory in preparation for the weekend's CSM (Canadian Ski Marathon).

Sent from Placid Bay Inn

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

What would he make of Crib Goch in the rain?

I think I’ve referred to my scary day on Half Dome before.  Sue reported on it here.

Thumbing through the current Trail magazine today, I discovered the picture below.  This guy, Alex Honnold, seems to have found a much flatter path than the one I was on, so presumably (assuming the path continues amiably round the corner) he got to the summit without suffering the dizziness that got to me.


The photo is credited to Jimmy Chin/National Geographic.  The title to the post is credited to Trail Magazine’s caption.

Monday, 12 October 2009


A beach in San Francisco - 6 October 2006

This picture was taken on the beach in San Francisco, on 6 October 2006, though I suppose it could just as easily have been taken on, say, Crosby beach. 

You’ll just have to believe me!

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Monday 26 November 2007 - A Surprise from San Jose

One of the items of mail discovered on our return from Jordan was a package from one Thomas Rivell, of San Hose. Enclosed was the Sierra Club’s 2008 Engagement Calendar, with weekly photographs of the highest quality of flora and fauna and fabulous North American landscapes. It is in a similar format to the John Muir Trust Calendar edited by John Cleare that we usually pick up at the Kendal Mountain Festival. But having missed the KMF this year, the Sierra Club calendar is a fine alternative and a lovely present. Thank you, Thomas, who very appropriately wishes us ‘Happy Holidays’. And may you also enjoy many more Happy Holidays, Thomas.
I’ll write about my ‘Travails with Thomas’ on another occasion.