There are two weeks until trout season opens but the trout are still in the deep freeze, so we are obliged to keep skiing.
Despite lots of melting along roadsides and exposed fields, there are still places where the skiing is great.
In the window between the melting days and the big storm of this week, I got in a great afternoon ski along one of my favorite routes — Steele Woods Road.
Steele Woods Road in Lewis is a seasonal road that’s not plowed after about Dec. 1. There are other seasonal roads that are equally good for late winter skiing. The Cook Road in Whallonsburg and the top of Mountain Spring Road in Westport are all wide routes that can have good conditions later than other backcountry trails.
I’m told that the Wells Hill Road in Lewis to the Glen Road in Jay used to be one of the best ski trips in the eastern Adirondacks, but the loss of the bridge over Spruce Mill Brook has made it impassable.
Many local snowmobilers and skiers use Steele Woods for a nice tour along the Boquet River.
Apparently some other travelers use it as well. This week there were tracks of deer, coyote, fox, bobcat, grouse, shrew, otter and mink.
I didn’t notice squirrel tracks but there is no doubt in my mind that there are plenty in that area.
I did notice some large tracks that are unusual to find in the woods, but fairly normal for a dirt road. I was hoping for moose but they were the hoof prints of a horse. I was envious of the late winter rider — I can’t imagine a nicer place to ride horseback in the snow.
On the afternoon I skied, the temperature was around 45 degrees. Because Steele Woods is down low, the winter sun doesn’t hit it directly, so the base stays frozen longer than in the open where bare ground has been showing for days. As I skied toward the river the temperature dropped a few degrees.