Last Dance: Diehard Run 4/6/14

Sunday afternoon was drop-dead gorgeous: temperatures in the mid-40s and nary a cloud in the sky. I wanted to get out there and enjoy Adirondack heaven at least one more time before the winter’s corpse fades into the past.

I did a drive-by recon of the village first to see what was passable. I can tell you that the connection from Crow Hill Road into the village is almost totally shot. It would border on sled abuse to try that.

Ski Hut trail was easily the best trail remaining in the village. Always a nice ride through there!

C8 out to Sabael was OK in the shade, but was getting burnt to grass and mud in the exposed spots. There were several times I had to ride the leftover snow berm to make it through the corners w/o dredging through the mud. Pashley Road was mud and the short length of stream I use to bypass the road was very deep in slush and standing water, so I turned around.

Bear Trap Swamp was slushy and fun, but it’s starting to run low on snow to cover the grass. C8 and S84 heading out of town was an alternating mixture of water, mud, ice and mushy snow. It was enough to get by, but won’t be for much longer. Even the back end of Benton Road was getting stretches of mud down the middle.

S84¬†past the Cedar River Bridge was grubbly hard studders. The hill climb and the first several turns had large stretches of skank that I had to weave around or through in some cases. But once I got “over the top,” it became a much nicer ride enroute to Rock Lake. The base was solid, with the exception of several turns ground down to dirt and leaves. The riding surface ranged from small soft studders to occasionally very smooth.

Rock Lake to 538/Newcomb trail had solid snow and slush coverage for the most part. But areas under the tall pines were little more than wet ice, which was a bit tricky for traction. Aside from the occasional corner ground down to dirt in small spots, that was nice.

A friend of mine coming back from his diehard ride told me that the Newcomb trail was bumpy, but had plenty of snow on it: similar to what I’ve encountered lately. But I didn’t ride it today.

Continuing on, the remainder of S84 to Lake Durant Campsites was a beautiful spring ride! I didn’t ride the Old Stage Trail, but I’m sure that’s still in decent to good ride-able condition with most of it in the shade.

At the shore of Lake Durant, I saw that recent tracks did not sink into the slush. So I took a chance and did a rip across Lake Durant. Unlike several days ago, when I almost got bogged down in the deep slush, the skis and track only penetrated about 2-3 inches into the slush this time and I was treated to a fun and wet run from end-to-end! It’s not often I get to ride a lake on April 6th. I heard that a couple of guys ran Indian Lake from end to end today; but that was too long of a lake for me to try solo in April under these conditions.

Then I doubled back to the compound and called it a ride, and probably the winter. Part of me is satisfied and done. The other part of me wants a half-foot of snow to cover the skank to free me up for yet another “last ride.” Whatever the case, I’ll be happy. The winter started up and down, but February and March made the grade for sure. And I’ve had three rides in April, originating in town. That certainly does not happen every year!

Midweek Outlook:

Snow pack is a solid 1-2 feet in the woods around Indian Lake and Speculator and probably still over 2 feet in the “snow bowls” of southern/western Hamilton County. But around town, the strong sun has baked the snow cover thin with bare areas growing daily.

With more rain expected Monday night into Tuesday and no really cold weather at sight, the village trails are going to become completely shot at some point this week. Moose River Plains certainly holds enough snow to ride, but getting there from Brown’s Farm parking lot is going to be painful. Powley Road will be a good place to ride, but the connector trails will deteriorate much faster than Powley Road itself.

You’re safest bet would be to park at the Mason Lake parking lot, thence work your way down the north end of Perkins Clearing Road and have a ball. Ride the Perkins Clearing loop, then see what you can do beyond that. If conditions get really lousy, just turn around and head back to the sanctuary of Perkins Clearing! :)

On cold mornings, let the sun be your friend and soften the trail hardpack and ice so your track can throw up enough slush and water to keep your slides and heat exchangers happy and cool. You should be good to go by 9-10AM at the latest.

As for the lakes, you’ll have to do your own risk-reward analysis on whether to ride them or not. The slush has settled down, but the strong April sun is going to soften the ice quickly from here on out. Indian Lake has risen a foot-and-a-half over the past week, which has caused water to show up near the shorelines which will begin to compromise the shoreline ice. The safest and probably best play would be to stay off the lakes as riding them will become more risky by the day.

In years past, I would try to scare up a truck and trailer to hit Perkins Clearing for one last run at glory. But going through that hassle just to ride somewhere I’ve ridden scores of miles all winter just seems like more trouble than it’s worth now. Getting older can do that to you. My approach now is to just ride as much as humanly possible from the garage December through March, then accept the end when I can no longer head out from the compound. I’ve spun off over 2700 miles this winter, how many more do I need? ;)

Have fun and be safe! There is snow for your last ride if you want it…

Darrin @

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Diehard ride to S84/Lake Durant 4/2/14

Drive-by update 4/4/14 PM: The Town of Indian Lake has NOT plowed S88 from the end of Cedar River Road to Headquarters. Brown’s Farm parking lot still has a decent mushy ice base; not close to being a mud pit yet. But you will have a painful 0.7 miles from Brown’s Farm parking lot to the S88 trail head.

Back in town, the Crow Hill Road shelf is on death’s doorstep and the connecting trail into the village is nearly shot. Right now, it’s a 35*F heavy rain…just about the worst weather you can have here.

Best bets this weekend: Perkins Clearing (from Mason Lake Parking lot), Moose River Plains (if you can reach it), and Powley Road. Diehard season in full swing!!

Trail report 4/2/14: It’s that time of the season (although delayed by a week or so) that I start taking any ride I can after work before the trails completely go to pot and I’m done until next winter.

Today, I took the kids out after dinner for their last ride of the season. After I dumped some Marine fuel stabilizer into both gas tanks, off we went! The Indian Lake inner village trails were all passable, but the base is starting to fade fast on the heavily traveled trails and exposed areas. The trails have degraded markedly since my last ride only 2 days ago, with skank like this showing up in places, even through there is still a solid 1-2+ feet of leftover snow pack in the woods:

Indian Lake skank

Heading out to S84 was slushy and wet with some good sized puddles, but all in all…pretty fun! Even the back end of Benton Road is starting to get down to dirt in spots. The hill climb past the Cedar River Bridge and the first several corners before I got over the top were showing some serious skank, but we make it through without much problem.

Once over the top, the snow was much better although it had deteriorated in quality since a couple of days ago. The riding ranged from pretty smooth to small studders with a few large puddles along the way. The trail deteriorated to wet ice under the tall pines past Rock Lake. After the Newcomb trail crossing, S84 was a beautiful ride to the Lake Durant Campsite.

The Old Stage trail was a pretty nice. I didn’t entertain any notion of riding the lakes because they had that deep slushy blue look to them. We didn’t ride the Newcomb trail because I knew it would be really rough from my last few rides out there. But I did hear the Newcomb trail becomes a nicer ride past the Essex County Line.

Then it was back to town in the dark and we made it back to the compound before 9PM. Here are some pics from along the way:

Weekend Outlook:

At the rate we are losing our snow pack and Friday’s expected rain, it would probably be best to hit the diehard hangouts like Perkins Clearing, Moose River Plains or the Powley Road by this weekend. I’ll try to find out when/if the Town of Indian Lake plans to plow from the Cedar River Road to Headquarters in preparation for fishing season. You’ll still need to “sidehill” the snowbank for a half mile from the Brown’s lot to reach the trail head.

I would highly recommend staying off the lakes. Even though it gets cold at night, it’s not enough to fully button the slush up. We’re at the time of year where the sun weakens the ice dramatically. The 2 foot of ice we still have on the lakes is NOT the same good ice we had just a week or two ago. Inlets and outlets will have thin ice and open water.

As for me, I think I have another small ride or two in my sleeve before the season is out. I would like to empty the tank more so I have more room for fresh gas when we start next winter. So far, I’ve been pleased as punch over the 1200 4-TEC. I’m looking forward to years of fun with it!

Parting Words:

Even if I don’t make it out again, it was a great winter once it got off the ground for good. A snowy February and a historically cold March with a well-timed major snowstorm mid-March made the Back 9 of this winter one of the best we’ve seen in a long time. Hopefully, we can get a half-way decent January to match February and March next winter!

A few people might not like what we’ve got going on with, but don’t let that get you down. My mission year after year remains unchanged and steadfast: to provide my fellow snowmobilers with the most accurate weather information and trail conditions so you can make smart decisions on how to spend your money and maximize your riding time. The end game is to share what I have with you and have a whole lot of fun while doing it. Some will never understand that. So I’ll just live, let live and let everything else take care of itself.

As always, it’s been a privilege and honor to serve the ilsnow nation. :)

Thank you!

Darrin @


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Ride out to Lake Durant 3/31/14

Diehard Season? Fat Lady Singing? Whatever… I’m riding!

I capitalized on a little after work riding opportunity and was not disappointed.

The Indian Lake inner village trails had small studders, but the base was holding up well. Even places that are normally cooked to dirt still held a good base this evening. The Bear Trap Swamp was a water and slush pit, but that was fun to slosh through. :) The usual “nice” hangouts like 42nd and Broadway, Little Canada and Ski Hut trails were still in great shape.

Lake Adirondack was a slushy crossing, but I easily powered my way through it. Benton Road had enough snow and ice to make the connection from 42nd and Broadway to the rest of the village trails once I got into the shade.

S84 out to Blue Mountain provided the best spring ride I had on that trail in YEARS! The usual exposed spots were scuffed down to dirt in a few places, but largely still held a good base. Once I got over the top, there was nice riding most of the way to Lake Durant. There were only a couple of significant water/loose ice spots I had to respect.

At Rock Lake, I was treated to this splendid sunset:

Rock Lake Sunset

Old Stage Trail was probably the best ride I had on it all season over to the Lake Durant Road. I cut down to Lake Durant and it appeared really slushy. The dummy in me decided to rip that lake anyway. Almost immediately, the slush was up to my running boards and the belt was squealing like a stuck pig. I did the wide U-turn and barely got off that slush pit. Grateful for the second chance to make a wise decision, I doubled back to town on the Ole Stage trail.

Not a big ride, but it didn’t have to be. I know I’ve got at least a few more rides before I hang it up.


Midweek Outlook:

Mild days, cold nights and no significant rain for the week will ensure the diehards and local vultures will have their day. Perkins Clearing, Moose River Plains and the Powley Road will probably offer your best shot at sustained good riding, but other places will be in play also. I will attempt to find out if/when the Town of Indian Lake Highway department plans to plow the trail from the end of Cedar River Road to Headquarters in preparation for fishing season.

As for the lakes, the chief danger is getting horrible stuck in slush as opposed to actually breaking through the ice. Either one really sucks, so use your better judgement and stay off the ice if you have any doubts.

Surrounding areas like Old Forge/Inlet permit trails, Ohio, Warren County, St Lawrence County and Mulleyville are closed. But here in the heart of ilsnow land, we ride until the snow runs out or we just lose our desire to ride. If you want to say you ride in April, here’s your shot at it!

Let the strong April sun be your friend and loosen up the icy/frozen granular surface enough to keep your slides and heat exchangers happily cool. By about 9-10AM you should be good to go! Ice scratchers and studs would be helpful for the early morning hard conditions.

Where to park in Indian Lake village:

The usual parking lot by the Indian Lake town garage is baked down to mud and you’ll have some painful road riding to reach the trails. Alternatively, you can park at the old landfill at the end of Pelon Road (take the right at the Y instead of the usual left for the Town garage) for direct access to 42nd and Broadway. Past the gate, go straight to hit the back side of Benton Road and then the remainder of the snowmobile trail system. Hanging a right immediately past the gate would dump you down onto Lake Adirondack.

Or, you can park at the Ole Swimming Hole at the end of Benton Road and hit the trails from there. Another alternative would be parking at the Northville/Lake Placid trail head just past the Lake Durant Campgrounds and the Ranger’s living quarters. You can hit S84, Old Stage trail and Newcomb trail directly from there.

For Perkins Clearing, Mason Lake parking lot is usually the best place to start from.

Darrin @

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