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Loving the Olympics and Adirondacks

Because I am someone who loves the Adirondack outdoors, I also love the Winter Olympics. Why?

Skiing, skating, sledding … these are the most Adirondack of organized sports. Our mountains, lakes and valleys are ready made for downhill, skating and cross-country.

Heck, we’ve had two Olympics in Lake Placid, near the heart of the High Peaks.

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A mountain lion in winter, but not in the Adirondacks.

No lion in our mountains, but our future?

Look around the Adirondacks and you find plenty of peaks and other natural features named for panthers, cougars, catamounts and lions. Are there big cats behind every tree and rock?

No, in fact the federal government last week moved the mythical Eastern Mountain Lion from protected status to extinct.

The last mountain lion in the Northeast was shot in Maine 80 years ago. You need to look decades earlier to find a time when the region last sustained a significant breeding population.

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Winter Views, Hopes

Two short videos from a recent ski near one of my favorite spots, Chateaugay Lake in the northern Adirondacks.

Our January thaw, followed by ice and sleet, has put a stop to most backcountry gliding for now. But with luck we’ll have a storm soon and I’ll get a bit more skiing in.

Right now I’m off to find some skateable ice. Here’s hoping the winter gives you some outdoor fun.

A plow clears my driveway as a winter storm covers the landscape in blowing snow.

Respect, don’t Fear, the Weather

Watching winter storm “Hunter” — thank you Weather Channel, like winter storms needed names — drop a dense snowy blanket outside my dining room window, should I be glad this isn’t a “bombogenesis,” “snowpocalypse” or “snowmageddon?”

We love to be afraid of the weather, maybe in the same way we love horror films. We all like a good scare. But bombarded with media messages of weather fear, that occasional scare has become a constant drone of weather worry. We’re inured to it; our children are basted in it.

What’s the problem? Fear leads to bad decisions. Worry wears us down and inures us to real dangers.

And there are dangers out there to judge, to weigh, to consider.

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Brigid takes a ski break with a furry friend.

Cross-Country Skiing with Kids

Take a quiet ski on your own first, then have some noisy fun with the kids.

Take a quiet ski on your own first, then have some noisy fun with the kids.

Cross-country and kids aren’t a natural match … but that’s usually because we want to turn out kids into little adults, making them ski the way we do.

Cross-country also lacks the “cool” factor of downhill skiing. It’s like trying to get your kids to kayak when there is a jet-ski tied to the dock.

But if we focus on the fun instead of the destination, skiing can be a great family activity, a fit for 5-year-olds, 15-year-olds and 55-year-olds.

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The contents of a geocache with a gps receiver at hand.

Geocaching the between-times

Too early to ski? 

Sure, if you are a eager backcountry type you’ve driven and hiked to find snow.

Me, I’ll wait till the snow finds me, although I am tempted to take a trip to the Whiteface Toll Road for an early season session.

Too late to hike? Sure, many of you hike all winter.

Me, once the temps dip and the trails get icy, I keep my hikes on the flat lands of the Champlain Valley. Thanksgiving is often my cutoff, although a brisk hike up Lyon Mountain can make the turkey taste better.

So what to do in the between-times?

Geocaching is the perfect outdoor fun in the fall/winter, winter/spring transitions.

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