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Snowstorms usher in beginning of new season

December 8, 2010
By Joe Hackett, News Outdoors Columnist
The arrival of the season’s first significant snowstorm coincided with the conclusion of New York’s Northern Zone big game season last weekend. The recent snowfall provided a fitting end to a long season that was highlighted by some extraordinary whitetail bucks, including several that topped the 200-pound mark dressed, and one that sported an incredible 21 points of hardwear.

Indications point to an average year in terms of total harvest. While the state Department of Environmental Conservation has yet to crunch the numbers, the overall take is expected to be about the same as last season, according to Ed Reed, a wildlife biologist with Region 5.

For hunters who just can’t get enough, the Southern Zone big game hunting season continues until December 21. However, for most, it is time to sort through the gear, stow away the rifles, clean out the camp, mouse proof the cracks and rehash stories about the big one that got away. Surely, next season he will again be wandering these same hills.

The snowstorm, which began on Sunday afternoon and was still coming down on Tuesday morning, will be a welcome addition to the late autumn landscape. The snow cover will wipe the earth clean of debris, and hide the accumulated woodland clutter that was felled by the high winds of the previous week.

Skiers will rejoice, and snowshoers will dance with delight as the snow continues to accumulate. Drivers will curse and snowplow operators will cringe, as another long Adirondack winter will soon begin. Children will laugh and play, with hope that the snow will cancel school for the day.

Those who have lived through such snowy times will know what to expect, while those who haven’t will prepare for the worst. The snow will fall and it will be shoveled away, and we’ll go about our day. No worries, no surprise, just another day in a whitewashed paradise.

Despite my current outlook, after four more months of the white stuff my attitude will gradually be altered. Fortunately, by then, there will always be “ice out” to look forward to.

Snowshoer’s delight is a skier’s dilemma

With a heavy dose of fresh snow, backcountry skiers will be anxious to get a start on the season. However, caution is advised, as visibility will be limited. In many areas, the forest floor is still soft and muddy. 

Unfortunately, the fresh snow will provide insulation to keep it that way. Tree limbs, which already had a heavy layer of frozen crust, will hang heavy with the accumulated new snow. 

Last week’s windstorm also littered the forest floor with downed limbs and trees. In many places, the trails are a mess and some clearing will be required.

Additionally, since there was little or no base cover prior to the new snow, even a slight turn will carve a ski through the fresh powder. Don’t let appearances fool you, conditions still warrant the use of “rock skis.” Save those new boards for Whiteface.

Until the fresh snow condenses, or a heavier layer of wet snow arrives, skiers would be wise to limit travel to the more well-established trails, fire truck trails or area golf courses.

Avoid stream crossings, and don’t go near the ice unless you are wearing fins. I know, there’s over a foot of fresh snow and the High Peaks beckon, but don’t ruin your season before it has begun. Remember, good things come to those willing to wait, while a lot of filing and filling comes to those that won’t.

Snowshoers, on the other hand, will find a winter wonderland waiting in nearly any section of the nearby woods. The recent delivery of soft, fluffy powder is ideal for the webbed-foot crowd.

Remember, there are many skiers awaiting the opportunity to enjoy your most recent packed tracks. So ’shoers, please get out early, often and stay late because a lot of skiers can’t wait, and I’m one of them.

Jones Outfitters back on shore

Beginning my annual hunt for Christmas gifts earlier this week, I stopped first at Jones Outfitters, our local Orvis Store.

The shop, once known as Clarkes Canoe and Tackle, was originally located on Saranac Avenue, where the Adirondack Store now sits. Although the shop has been moved on several occasions since 1959, it remains the oldest continually-operating Orvis Store in the country.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I visited their most current location next to High Peaks Mountain Adventure Center, and found it totally empty. Jones Outfitters was gone — lock, stock, Helios flyrods and all. 

Fortunately, I discovered they had moved to a new location on Main Street, next to Ruthies Run, and they had taken all their usual goods with them.

The new location will serve them well, as it offers access to Mirror Lake, which they previously enjoyed when they were located next to the Bandshell Park.

Their new location will provide convenient access for walk-in traffic, and an opportunity for shoppers to demo a canoe, kayak or flyrod on the water in their backyard.

On Friday, Dec. 10, Jones Outfitters will again host its annual open house customer appreciation event that features specials throughout the store and a stunning smorgasbord of wild fish and game items that includes smoked goose, duck gumbo, venison jerky and more.

The event begins at 3 p.m. at 2419 Main Street and will conclude around 8 p.m., or until the food runs out. Stop by to check out the new shop and the latest in sporting gear, whether it’s for the dog or its owner.

High Peaks fills the void

Although the departure of Jones Outfitters will certainly leave a void in the big building at 2739 Main Street that is home to High Peaks Mountain Adventure Center, I doubt that the store’s proprietor and chief guide, Brian Delaney will let any moss grow under his boots.

Delaney has his new Guide House up and running, and it will be featuring skiing and adventure films every Saturday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. This week’s film will be the premier of “Tele-Vision” and it can be enjoyed along with a free, cold Lake Placid Brew Pub brew.

Although Delaney may not have any moss under his boots, he typically can be found with a lot of snow underfoot. This weekend will be no different as High Peaks offers their 20th annual Telemark/Alpine Touring Demo Weekend.

The event will kick off Saturday at Whiteface Mountain Ski Center in Wilmington from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Activities will include a guided “Dynafit” side country tour up, and down, the Whiteface toll road.

Tour participants will be able to demo Dynafit alpine touring equipment as staff guides and Dynafit reps accompany the group tours. Space is limited and reservations are required by calling 523-3764.


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