Christmas Week in Johnsburg NY

Spending Christmas Week in Johnsburg NY is a family tradition. It’s a logical time to take time off, and rack up some ski days. Holidays in the mountains are always good.

Garnet-Hill-Lodge-view
View from Garnet Hill

Good skiing at this time of year is somewhat reliable. As much as we know that, we also know that one or two times in ten, we’ll get skunked. We dream of natural snow, but as East coast skiers, we’re always ready for the possibility that conditions will be marginal.

Regardless, we come and ski what we can. This season, after record warmth in November and December, we had a lot more fun than we expected. I’d actually call it a great time.

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Hooper Garnet Mine, NY

Garnet mining is an important part of the history of the Gore Mountain region. And, right in our neighborhood, is an old abandoned garnet mine; the Hooper Mine on Garnet Hill.

Hooper Garnet Mine in North River NY

The garnet from this area was (and is) prized for the way it fractures, making it very valuable for abrasives like sandpaper. In 1878 the Barton family began mining on the backside of Gore Mountain.

Twenty years later Frank Hooper started his mining operation near Balm of Gilead Mountain.  Hooper’s mine wasn’t as rich as Barton’s, but to some extent, he made up for it with ingenuity.

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Garnet Hill Lodge Ski Center, NY

Garnet Hill and I go way back. In 1988, I did some of my first “downhill skiing” on some very skinny skis on the hill.  On my very first run in the Adirondacks, I skied down from the Lodge to the Ski Shop on “The Cut Off Trail” — a short and fairly steep run with a 90 degree left hand turn at the bottom of the steepest part.

View from Garnet Hill Lodge

The hill had just been through a thaw/freeze cycle and it was actually pretty sporty. Yes it’s true — I crashed in the first corner and thought… “this is going to be a long day.”

It snowed overnight and conditions really improved. In fact on each of my first trips to Garnet Hill conditions were excellent. At the time I had no idea how special it was to score new snow on trips planned weeks in advance.

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