It’s on (in New Hampshire) and changes in reporting

Lucky ducks in the White Mountains can go to Great Glen or Bretton Woods where there are a few kilometers open. Here in New York State, Mt. van Hoevenberg is sticking with 1.5k of manmade snow on a small loop.

A couple of places got some snow but not opening trails yet- Notchview in MA and Waterville Valley in NH. As for New York, Lapland Lake isn’t open but has hope:

One inch of snow overnight is beautiful but not enough for skiing.  Our weather forecast shows colder temperatures and chances of additional snow over the weekend so we hope to be skiing soon.

Lapland Lake ski conditions report Dec. 7 2020

For purposes of my charting, this marks when I’ll see which areas shift out of the ‘Offseason’ mode of reporting. So far, many still have conditions posted from last spring. Hit up the link in the menu for ‘State of the touring centers’ for the usual Google map with all details. Snow depth snapshot below.

Snow depth northeast US, Dec. 7 2020
Snow depth northeast US, Dec. 7 2020 (NWS)

Travel restrictions

Assuming you aren’t so alarmed at the rise in case positivity across the country that travel across state lines looks inadvisable for that reason alone, modeling a vacation scenario takes the awareness of a tax accountant and the adaptability of someone who loves to fly on standby. Note: the guidance below is only as good as the information is current and may not apply to the future:

  • Massachusetts’ Travel Order for effective August 1 requires a 14-day quarantine for all visitors from higher-risk states, unless you can produce a negative Covid test taken no more than 72 hours prior to arrival in the state.
  • Vermont has an Executive Order through Dec. 15 requiring either a 14-day quarantine OR 7 days if concluding with a negative PCR test taken at the end of that period.
  • New Hampshire has the following Travel Guidance as of Dec. 3: No quarantine restrictions for travelers from neighboring states; 10-day quarantine for others OR 7 days if concluding with a negative PCR test taken on day 6 or 7.
  • New Jersey has an FAQ article of Dec. 7 saying that travelers beyond adjoining states should get tested before and after the trip, and self-quarantine for 10-days OR 7 days if coincident with negative test results.

All the above are of course contingent on being asymptomatic for the entire period. All states recommend against any non-essential travel.

Changes to reporting

Last year I started adding some news about backcountry skiing, mainly from the Barkeater Alliance, which covers portions of the Adirondack scene. I’ll see if it’s worth it to continue and maybe test more reporting if it’s convenient. Backcountry isn’t my thing but it is the modern form of the ur-cross country skiing experience and deserves recognition.

TBH, the Northeast is so rich in places to go for any level of cross-country skiing I’m amazed more people don’t do it. In my effort to cast a wide net, it’s become a real task to run the list two or three times a week in the season.

For sanity’s sake I have to do some culling. In addition, some areas have just taken themselves out on their own. Below are the changes I made between the 2019-20 season and this one.

Subtractions

  • Granite Gorge Ski Area: Removed from the list. Will be marked on the map but not checked. They’ve never reported conditions anyway.
  • Mountain Meadows Cross Country Ski and Snowshoe: Out of the trail maintenance biz. Their last words: “After 32 years of grooming and running the nordic center we have decided to just work one job and focus on Base Camp Outfitters.” I wonder what they’ll do with a great domain name (xcskiing.net)
  • Oak Hill Farms: Will disappear from the list and map. MIA for the last couple of seasons, their site’s unsecured and blank.
  • Stratton Mountain Nordic Center: Will be marked on the map but not checked. They didn’t really report conditions anyway.
  • Weston (Leo J. Martin ski track): Removed from the list. Will be marked on the map but not checked. This is really more a thing for Boston-area residents.
  • Windblown: Still an Inn but out of the ski biz. Their last words: “After 48 years I have decided to close the ski area. Thanks for all your good energy and many years of connecting while gliding on snow.”

Additions

Most have been around for awhile, and I’ve added them to have representative areas in various regions. For post-season assessment it helps to have comparable areas in the same topographic region.

Two of the additions are brand-new: Paul Smith’s VIC; and Osceola Ski and Sport Resort, which is just down the road from Osceola Tug Hill XC Ski Center (and still in business after the owner found some people to take over the heavy lifting).

  • Blueberry Hill Outdoor Center: a family-oriented outdoor center in the northern Green Mountains
  • Catamount Outdoor Family Center: located in the Lake Champlain area not far from Burlington VT
  • Osceola Ski and Sport Resort: Brand-new XC and snowshoe center
  • Paul Smith’s VIC: Brand-new center on existing land owned by the college
  • Winona State Forest: Located near Pulaski and just inshore from Lake Ontario, to get that lake-effect snow.
  • Woodstock Inn and Resort: A classic New England style resort located in the Connecticut River valley of mid-Vermont.

A new season…

Now that it’s November, might as well start getting ready. Snow has fallen in the the Adirondacks and as far south as mid-Vermont.

For the upcoming season, different states and localities may interpret health concerns with some variation, so it may be worth checking ahead before heading out.

Snow depth Northeast US, November 2 2020
Snow depth Northeast US, Nov. 2 2020 (NOAA)

Update: Rollerskis, MSPP

[Update]: whether because the new RS skate boots are better boots than the old Combi boots or just that they’re new and not as broken down, stability on the rollerskis was much improved today.

Caught up in the moment

In a fit of aspirational fitness, I went ahead and bought some rollerskis after all. Rationalizing that I could save some money by repurposing a couple of unused and off-size ski poles and my old Combi ski boots, I ordered a pair of Pursuit Fork Flex skis. Because my gear is split between Classic skis/boots using Salomon Prolink, while my skate gear is based on Salomon Pilot, I checked that the binding holes for Pilot and Prolink are the same before ordering, just in case I change over to Prolink.

I found a suitable spot for ‘rollerskier ed’ training in the form of a level and smooth paved area bounded by grass, and started with no-poles loops and figure-8s. As I suspected, my ankles proved to be the weak point, but it wasn’t as bad as when I last tried rollerskis in the mid-eighties.

Some bullet-point notes and impressions from the brief opportunities I’ve had to try them out:

  • I didn’t feel that the old Combi boots provided enough support/stability around the forefoot. Fortunately I found a deal on some Salomon RS Skate boots. Pilot in this case, to maintain compatibility with the skis. Another $240 invested- but hey!- I’m going to get better at skate skiing, right?
  • Initial impression was that rollerskis are more prone to tipping side-to-side than snow skis, so my ankles need to flex more and my weight shift has to be more precise. This will either turn out to be good for training or a literal PITA.
  • It felt kind of awkward to gear up with elbow and knee pads, especially for simple loops around a parking area, but they’ve gotten a bit of use already.
  • Glad I saved those wrist guards from rollerblading- being a packrat sometimes pays off.

Big upgrade at Minnewaska

Just in time for winter, a brand-new 5,400 square-foot visitor center has just opened with indoor restrooms.

The new center is located at the northern end of the lake on what used to be a sloping meadow leading to the porta-potties. There’s expanded parking up at the top, but the same winding road for access.

During the summer, this park is a favorite for downstaters and people living in the mid-Hudson valley. This year it experienced a surge in visits compared to the prior year- and that was before the visitor’s center opened. The way the news reports and press releases read, there’s every reason to believe it will be open year-round. With a long-deserved facility upgrade, expect the parking lot to fill up early in ski season.

Governor’s press release