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 @ ilsnow.com

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