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Winter is settling in for the season

December 5, 2018
By JOE HACKETT - Outdoors Columnist ( , Lake Placid News

During the winter season, it often appears as if the Adirondacks are a vast land of ice and snow that will remain locked forever in an eternal battle for the heart of the land.

However, while a calendar is often used to confirm the official change of seasons, the current condition of the landscape often presents a totally different perspective, depending upon on such variables as orientation to the sun, proximity to open waters, elevation and the prevailing winds.

These are just of few of the most common factors, and as usual, they will remain as unpredictable as a little kid with a hammer in his hand, and likely just as dangerous. While most of the commonly accepted weather warnings hold true in moderate terrain, it can be an entirely different environment in the mountains, where the combination of extreme landscapes and foul weather can compound matters in an instant.

Article Photos

Jason Labonte, of Saranac Lake, skis across a small bridge at Dewey Mountain Recreation Center in Saranac Lake.
News photo — Justin A. Levine

It is easy to overlook such simple things during the winter months when the land is carpeted by a seemingly soft, safe and benign layer of fresh snow. Despite appearances, it is often the so-called "safe routes" that prove to be the most dangerous.

This is especially true during late winter season when the danger of avalanche increases on slopes that have never before been considered dangerous. In the age of climate change, it appears many of the old, long-held weather standards have been obliterated.

In less than a generation, the prevailing winds have become notably stronger, the snowfall heavier, the rain more prevalent and old historic weather extremes continue to be reestablished on each end of the weather spectrum. As the thermometers continue to swing to both ends of the weather spectrum, travelers continue to adapt to these area's changes.

It may not be a quick or easy task, but humans have proven to be one of the most adaptable species on the planet, along with cockroaches and certain strains of bacteria. Good company to have on board as we chart the future direction of our planet, eh?

While we ponder and learn how to digest such news, a bucket of fresh powder may be enough to keep such notions off your mind. Currently, all of the local nordic ski centers are up and running, sporting a fast, firm base of packed powder covering miles of groomed, set tracks at local ski centers. This is in addition to the incalculable miles of ski trails to be found in the backcountry.

In the deep woods, the snow is equally deep, which makes it ideal for tackling some of the best terrain of the season. In most areas, there is a firm and considerable base of packed powder that beckons skiers to free the heel and get out of the tracks.

Although there have already been a variety of reports detailing current angling opportunities on the local waters, I've learned to temper my enthusiasm for fishing the early ice. I've played the role of an olive in the martini before, and one cold dunk was enough.

Use common sense, and never trust the tracks. The ice that was safe last week, may not be so safe this weekend. Take the time to test it, and be sure to wear a life vest when you do. Also bring along a little extra insurance; it never hurts to have an extra throw rope on hand.


Go green

While the term 'Greenie' was once considered by many to be a cuss word in the Adirondacks, it can now be considered a symbol of confidence, cognitive functioning and more.

Researchers have confirmed that time spent in green spaces, primarily in the outdoors, has a decidedly beneficial effect on the cognitive functioning of pre-school children.

Those students also displayed a greater degree of creativity and mood improvement than their peers. For further information, please visit



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