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Passing through Seven Carries by skate and ski

January 18, 2017
By JOE HACKETT - Outdoors Columnist ( , Lake Placid News

Over the past couple weeks, I've spent a lot of time skiing, skating and exploring the local woods. In the deep woods, there is still a solid base of snow that allows skiers to travel off track or trail without worrying about trashing their equipment. This is especially evident in the Paul Smiths area.

The recent cold snap firmed up the ice on the lakes, ponds and adjacent swamps and bogs. I'd still stay clear of streams, rivers, inlets and outlets and other areas where currents or bubblers may weaken the lake ice.

Ice fishermen have been out in force, while hunters can still be found in the woods hunting for ruffed grouse and varying hare, aka snowshoe hare.

Article Photos

The St. Regis River is lined with snow as it flows out out of St. Regis Pond.
Photo — Joe Hackett

In the deep woods, there's plenty of powder to enjoy the downhill runs without worrying about a serious crash landing. The snowpack is deep enough to cushion even the most dramatic wipeout.

Conditions are outstanding on the lakes and ponds where there's just enough snow for nordic skiing, and the thick ice is not too deep to prohibit skating, especially on the smaller waters where there's far less wind-driven snow. The lake ice is now considered safe, with more than a foot of solid black ice on the lakes and ponds.

I recently enjoyed a full day in the woods, traveling through the old route of the Seven Carries, from Upper St. Regis Lake all the way to Lake Clear.

After skating across Upper St. Regis Lake, I switched over to skis in order to travel over the carries and along the woods roads that brought me to to Bear Pond and eventually to Little Long Pond, where I changed back into skates to test out a small parachute rig. Unfortunately, it was not as effective as expected, due to the combination of light winds, crusted ice and the patchy snow cover on the pond ice.

After skiing across Little Green Pond, I followed the carry trail to St. Regis Pond. I hugged the shorelines and found a variety of tracks from all sorts of critters, including beaver, otter, mink and a lone ruffed grouse that was still burrowed in the fresh snow.

While skiing along the carry trail between St. Regis Pond and Little Clear Pond, a grouse exploded from under the snow, almost between my ski tips. I don't know which one of us was startled the most, but my heart certainly skipped a few beats.

With a stiff wind blowing down the lake, on the downside of the carry I switched back to skates and strapped my skis to my pack to take advantage of a small sprinter's parachute that I often carry.

After hooking up the chute, I tossed it in the air, and I was immediately riding on the breeze. I made my way down the pond in short order, while hugging the shoreline for the last half mile or so.

I really enjoyed traveling over the frozen bogs, where the thick crusted snow turned the hummocks into a field of moguls. In one particular section, I skied in the furrow of an otter slide that slithered through the bog and off into the woods. The skis I used were a perfect fit for the furrow, and I followed it for quite a while, until it finally disappeared into thick cover along the bog.

It was truly an incredible experience, and I plan to return soon, as long as the snowpack remains intact.



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