Even though we are still in the fall season, winter-like conditions have roared in fast and furious.
Record cold temperatures and plowable snow have blanketed the area.
My friends Sue Coonrod and Kelly Moody and I love winter, so we quickly planned a day of play in the white stuff.
The New Land Trust (NLT), known for being in the snow belt, was our best bet for some good skiing followed by snowshoeing.
We wanted to make the most of our day.
DEEPER AND DEEPER
Sue had never been before, so she rode with me. The road seemed to go on and on, getting bumpier and narrower the more we climbed.
On a good note, the snow was deeper and deeper the closer we got. There were lots of helpful signs to guide us to the parking area where Kelly’s big smile greeted us.
As we strapped on our skis, the owner of the only other vehicle in the parking lot was just leaving.
We would have the trails all to ourselves.
TO THE CLUBHOUSE
Kelly would be our guide, as she was quite familiar with the property after spending many hours over the years enjoying the trails.
A short gentle hill brought us to the clubhouse and the start of our adventure. Skiing by a very unique outhouse, we marveled at the lovely stained-glass window. That’s a first for me.
A kiosk provided a map and information about the facility. A large sign read “Dog Doo Makes Bad Ski Wax - Pick It Up.” It is too bad that some outdoor enthusiasts have to be reminded of this but it’s a humorous way of doing so.
‘OUR HAPPY PLACES’
Kelly chose to start us on the Saranac trail, one of the main trails (Solstice is the other main trail). The snow was fresh and fluffy — just perfect for our first ski of the season. There are many trails to choose from and maps at several intersections to guide you if you get turned around.
With trail names like Stardust, Solstice, Equinox and Zen, we were sure to be in what my friend Wendy Patunoff calls ‘our happy place’.
One by one, we quietly glided on the pristine, virgin snow hearing only the sounds of our skis swooshing.
The trails are mostly flat and rolling with a few steep descents for the thrill seeking skiers. There is something for everyone.
THE WORLD’S A STAGE
Our first stop was at a large wooden structure with a sign indicating it was the stage.
This has been used in the past for events but is also a nice place to sit and enjoy the wilderness — maybe grab a drink and a snack.
I think Sue noticed the stage and decided she should make a grand entrance as she tumbled into the frigid snow.
Falling down was the easy part as we were all laughing so hard that Kelly had to give her a helping hand to the upright position.
The more we skied, the more we were in awe of our natural surroundings.
We crossed a well built, sturdy bridge with a sign informing us that it had been an Eagle Scout Project by Dylan Gladd in 2012 — Good job, Dylan, as it is holding its own.
Our next stop would be a wooden post with ‘Top Dead Center’ printed on a circular disk and an informative map below it. This spot is the highest point on the land trust. On a clear day, you can see Lyon Mountain and Whiteface Mountain towering in the distance.
Signs along the trails indicate whether a route is a ski or snowshoe trail.
Also signs titled “Trail Etiquette” with a drawing of two ski tracks bordered by snowshoe tracks on either side suggest visitors not walk on the ski tracks with their snowshoes.
As we approached another intersection, I wondered out loud as to whether hunting was permitted on the property.
I looked up and there was there was a sign answering my question: “Wildlife Safety Zone - No hunting, fishing, trapping or motorized vehicles. Hiking, Photography & Nature Study permitted.”
Birdwatching is a popular activity at the trust and visitors are always excited to spot a deer or even a moose.
The bright red berries, apples hanging low on branches and the abundance of acorns are sure to attract lots of wildlife.
THERE LIVED A HOBBIT...
At one point, I felt as if someone was watching me. Off to the side, there were two huge wooden eyes attached to a tree.
Just one more part of this whimsical adventure.
As we skied along we passed several lovely benches which would serve as a welcome rest area.
Looking up we spotted an intriguing sign. Hobbit House - Quiet Zone. Who could resist checking that out?
Off we went and soon we were standing in front of a stone dome like structure with a cute little door.
I’m guessing that young and old would love this spot — I know we did.
By this time, we had skied a few hours and our stomachs were telling us it was time to eat.
Retracing our tracks, we arrived back at the clubhouse.
The warm sunshine was pouring right through the big windows.
Very quickly, the decision to have lunch inside was made.
It was amazing how that solar energy had warmed it up enough to remove our jackets.
There were striking pieces of Adirondack woodworking: tables, benches, signs and coat racks. An inviting stove sat in the center of the room but the sun was doing its job so a fire was not needed.
It was hard to leave this warm, cozy room but we wanted to do a little snowshoeing, plus Sue had some new Altai Hok skis she wanted to test out.
Her new short ski-shoes have a universal binding which enables you to use your hiking boots.
Back at our vehicles, we made the quick switch and were off again. Sue led the way back up the gentle slope. So far so good; she confirmed great grip and glide.
For Kelly and I, the switch to the snowshoes felt a little awkward after experiencing how fast we could navigate the trails on skis. I could feel the pull in my thighs as I lifted up for each step.
Oh well, it would be good training for the snowshoe season which would soon to be upon us.
It was a quick trip to Luke’s Lodge, an impressive lean-to built again, as an Eagle Scout Project, by Luke Jenks. Sue found her test of her skis a successful one.
I couldn’t resist giving them a try on the way out. I don’t think it was a good time for me to try them as my muscles were screaming after our hours of fun. It’s always nice to try out new equipment though.
Almost back to our cars, we could see two snowshoers headed our way.
It’s a small world as Kelly and Sue knew them and engaged in some light hearted banter before heading back out.
Our day at the New Land Trust was one of friendship and laughter enjoying this great piece of wilderness. We all agreed we would soon be back.
Peru resident Joanne Kennedy is a photographer and writer who can be found exploring the many lakes and mountains in the Adirondacks or other wilderness areas. She enjoys sharing the unique places she visits in the natural world with her readers. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A little history on the trust
Back in 1977, some SUNY Plattsburgh students and friends purchased an old farm as an experiment in cooperative land management. The New Land Trust is now a non-profit organization consisting of miles of trails on 281.5 acres. The trust is entirely supported by generous donations from members, users and friends. The NLT will again host the Cock-A-Doodle Shoe horseshoe race on Jan. 19, and the Chili Fest on Feb. 15. Both will be sure to be exciting and fun. For more information on the New Land Trust and how you can help by volunteering or donating, visit their website: thenewlandtrust.org They welcome you to come and explore!
IF YOU GO
The New Land Trust is located at 236 Plumadore Road, Saranac, NY 12981
It is open from dawn to dusk in all seasons.
The public is welcome to visit and use this space for outdoor recreation and educational activities.
It is free to use the property, but donations are gladly accepted for the upkeep of the facility: thenewlandtrust.org