Indian Lake to Speculator and Wells: Update 1/20/15

T’was a beautiful start to the day. Temperature was 6 degrees under a sunny sky.

Snow pack ranged from about 6 inches in the exposed areas to a foot-plus “in the woods.”

I love the Adirondacks all year, but winter is magic for me! From the moment I started today’s ride, I was feeling the electricity:

There’s no doubt about it: I’m a different person once winter settles in and feel about 10-20 years younger. :)

The trails around Indian Lake village were in pretty good shape this morning. I did my usual loop via C8/Bear Trap Swamp, S86 to Crow Hill Road and Adirondack One Stop, S85/Ski Hut trail, Little Canada to Lone Birch, Lake Adirondack, S87/42nd and Broadway.

There was a bit of a water and slush mess at the east end of Bear Trap Swamp, but it was easy to get through.

I tried S84/Blue Mountain trail but quickly found that hadn’t been groomed and wasn’t much better than it was over the weekend. After about a mile in, I spun around and high-tailed it back to town.

Didn’t really feel like riding C8 out to Cedar River Headquarters to hit Moose River Plains. So, I decided to make a run for Speculator.

C8/Sabael trail was in nice shape to Pashley Road. It was still somewhat rough the rest of the way to Sabael, but the water hazards are becoming smaller and fewer by the day.

Indian Lake was still somewhat bumpy at the north end from Sabael to Watch Hill. For some reason, the bumps are not as hard when traveling southward. But on the return trip northward, it felt like I was going against the grain of a long wave cheese grater. Be careful on Indian Lake because you’ll need to pay attention for this sled-wrecker by Watch Hill:

Ice heave

Ice heave on Indian Lake

The picture doesn’t quite do it justice. The ice heave is over 2 feet high in places, runs the width of the lake and is partially concealed by drifting snow. If you hit that thing against the grain, your sled will stop suddenly and you will continue forward, tumbling like a rag doll clenched in the teeth of a great white shark. In other words: GAME OVER! 

After this nasty ice ridge, it was smooth sailing the remainder of the way down to the south end of Indian Lake. Then I got to see this:

Snowy Mountain

Snowy Mountain

The campsites were starting to show the washboard bumps in places. Lewey Lake was a really sweet crossing. 2 Miles from Hell was a bit torn on the bottom half with the usual terrain bumps, but much better coverage up top. Could definitely use a comb over of the groomer, but it wasn’t quite “hellish”.

Actually, S82C/Old Indian Lake Road was much worse than the 2 Miles from Hell, just a bump farm all the way through. Unfortunately, that’s the way that trail will be most of the winter serving as the Perkins Clearing Road logging bypass.

The new bypass trail to Jessup River Road was plenty wide and a bit twisty in places, a pretty neat ride! Jessup River Road was a nice run all the way to the back side of Perkins Clearing.

From HM116, my plan was to ride C4/C8 – Big Brook trail a little bit for the sake of a trail report before turning around. I was expecting it to become horribly bumpy. To my surprise it wasn’t that bad. There were some chatter bumps and a few rollers, but overall it was entirely tolerable with good coverage through most of it. There were a few water hazard divots you don’t want to hit hard. But if you’re content to move through there about 20 MPH or less, you shouldn’t have much problem spotting them.

C4/Fawn Lake trail was a notch better than Big Brook trail with the bumps softer. I ran Fawn Lake from end to end and back. Six inches of snow on perfectly flat ice…WOW! That was like riding on a pillow. :)

From C4, I crossed Sacandaga Lake without incident enroute to Speculator. I didn’t have the ambition to try making a run to Powley Road and didn’t feel like taking my chances with rocks on the Fish Mountain/Oxbow trail.

LP1/Page Street trail was freshly groomed and beautiful through the campsites and along Page Street. Through the woods to Route 8 had some chatter and worn spots, but not too bad. Gotta love the machine employed to wage battle with the bumps on LP1:

IMG_1907

Page Street Tucker Sno Cat

Does a pretty good job for that short stretch of trail!

Aside from one helluva ice heave by the Lake Pleasant trailer park, it was smooth sailing across Lake Pleasant on a classic drag strip.

As I crossed Route 30/8, I saw fresh groomer tracks beckoning down LP4A. I had plans to stop somewhere and eat, but the XP had other plans. 😉

LP4A was a nice ride with good snow coverage on the roads. But the groomer did leave a frozen berm that could send your sled on a direction you weren’t planning on, so be careful for that.

For kicks I took C4B/Gilmantown trail for a mile. It wasn’t terribly rough, but there were a few thin spots with rocks. Since I heard that the Gilmantown trail was thin and icy further down through the power lines, I didn’t bother going all the way. But there was enough sled traffic evidence on it to suggest that it was passable all the way down to Wells.

I hit C4/Old Route 30 down to the steel bridge. It wasn’t completely smooth by any means, but it was a fun romp anyway. At HM700, I yielded to temptation and continued on C4 enroute to Griffin Gorge. Despite not being groomed, it was a halfway decent ride all the way down. The sled-wrecking boulder was flagged by a single red stick. Most of the other rocks were covered, but you can’t assume anything through that boulder field. With some chainsaw TLC and a back-and-forth pass of the groomer, this would be a pretty nice run!

Out of morbid curiosity, I ran over to the Route 8 road crossing to see if anyone had ridden toward C4E/Pine Orchard. Nobody had broken that yet. It looked pretty beastly and I was alone, so I doubled back to make a run through the Speculator Tree Farm.

S41D/Fly Creek Road was a pretty nice run, aside from a couple of goobers on ATV’s that had rutted up the whole thing. Long Level Road was nice, but be careful on that bridge!

At Outhouse Corners, I took LP5/Elm Lake Road past the 6 mile marker. It was pretty fun, but there were a couple of deep divots that you don’t want to hit at speed.

S41D/Elm Lake Road was a beautiful ride back toward Speculator. We haven’t had much of the Tree Farm to enjoy in recent years with the logging. So nice to have it all back! :)

S41C/Hatchery Brook trail was rough all the way back up to Route 30. South end of Perkins Clearing Road was a nice ride.

On the shared plowed section, I stopped and had a friendly conversation with a logging truck driver. He stressed that snowmobiles need to go especially slow because the log trucks can’t stop quickly.

For your safety: strictly adhere to the 15 mph speed limit, stay way right and creep around the turns. In the event of a collision between a logging truck and snowmobile, the logging truck wins every time. Be careful!

DEC is patrolling Perkins Clearing Road and will hand out tickets to anybody who is riding on the plowed end of Perking Clearing Road that ISN’T the 0.7 mile shared use portion. Obey the signs. I know its a drag to beat your way through S82C/Old Indian Lake Road to make it down into Perkins Clearing, but it’s for our safety.

When I made it back to home base, all the Indian Lake village trails were freshly groomed! C8/Sabael trail was much smoother with most of the water hazards gone, which was a great welcome back! Just watch out for a couple of rocky spots through there.

As I took my victory lap around town, I saw that S84/Blue Mountain trail hadn’t been groomed since this morning.

But I did see fresh groomer tracks on C8 coming back to town from Cedar River Headquarters, so I’m certain that’s passable and possibly enjoyable.

Never did make it to lunch anywhere. Hey, I can eat anytime! Riding time is precious. :)

Here are some pics from today:

 

Bottom line:

We’re clawing and chipping our way back into the game! No big snows lately. But as long as it stays cold, it continues to slowly build.

I had some very good riding and endured some lumps. Through it all, I spun off 112 miles under a deep blue winter sky. Conditions will only get better this week as the groomers continue to make their rounds.

If you can make it up here for a mid-week ride, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

For the ilsnow nation,

Darrin

Comments welcomed!

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