SARANAC LAKE - Warm weather has put a damper on the start of this winter's ski season, but it may end up being a good thing for Dewey Mountain Recreation Area skiers in the long run.
The extended off-season and unseasonably warm weather has allowed Dewey Mountain crews to spend more time on the trails this fall making improvements.
"We have done more than ever before," said Jason Smith, of Adirondack Lakes and Trails outfitters, which runs the small Saranac Lake Nordic ski center.
Mike Lynch/Lake Placid News
Dewey Mountain Youth Ski League particpants ski an improved section of trail at Dewey Mountain Recreation Center in Saranac Lake. Despite the lack of snow, the center opened on Friday, Jan. 6.
Smith, the Dewey Mountain Recreation Center Manager, and Adirondack Lakes and Trails owner Steve Doxson told the Enterprise they have been able to widen some trails to make them a consistent width, fix some drainage problems and level a few bumpy sections.
The trail work will be beneficial because it will allow the snowmobiler groomer to do a better job, allow the improved trails to be usable with less snow than previously and generally improve the skiing experience there.
The improvements were done by town of Harrietstown workers, volunteers and members of Dewey Mountain Friends. Both the Harrietstown Department of Public Works and Dewey Mountain Friends group provided Dewey Mountain workers with machinery to move some of the larger stones and objects.
Smith said trail workers were also able to use a wood chipper on the property. That allowed them to coat the trails with wood chips, which creates a smooth surface for skiers and requires very little snow to groom.
"It really does enhance the skiing experience," Doxson said.
In addition to the field work done this fall, Dewey Mountain should see some improvements in the future. Dewey Mountain Friends is heading up a fundraising effort for a new ski lodge at Dewey. This includes selling a limited-edition coffee at Adirondack Bean-To Coffee shop, which is donating some of the proceeds to Dewey.
The coffee is called BurkeBeaner - a reference to the famous Birkebeiner nordic ski race in Norway - and is a version of Bean-To's trademark Hammer roast.
The Burke part of the name is in honor of Paul Smiths native and two-time Olympic biathlete Tim Burke, who skied at Dewey as a child. Burke was recently in Saranac Lake to promote the coffee brand.
Another ongoing initiative at Dewey is that the managers are working with Demong Designs, owned by Kris Cheney-Seymour and Olympic gold medalist Billy Demong, to improve the trail system and signage at the mountain. Demong, a Vermontville native, also skied at Dewey as a child.
Smith said they are "focusing on making the signage scheme on the mountain more friendly for people who are visiting."
Locals who ski at Dewey Mountain know it well, but it can be tricky for newcomers who aren't familiar with the trail system.
Some of the signage should go up this winter. The rerouting of trails will happen in the future.
For those who want to experience some of the improved trails at Dewey, the mountain is now open, weather permitting. It opened up for the first time on Friday, Jan. 6, coinciding with the season's first Ski Jam, which features live music in the lodge and night skiing. Skiers were limited to the lower portion of the hill.
In addition, the first Dewey Mountain Youth Ski League night was on Tuesday.
For those interested in learning more about Dewey, visit the website at www.deweyskicenter.com. The website includes a full listing of upcoming events including skijoring, ski oritenteering and Tuesday night races.