First Tracks at Lapland Lake

The winter of 2018-19 seems to be picking up right where last season left off, with unusually early snow accumulations across the region. Resorts have opened, with more terrain than expected, and ski areas that rely entirely on natural snow are feeling it this Snowvember.

Almost winter

With my alpine setup not quite ready, I headed up to Lapland Lake Nordic Center, who set a new record on this year opening on November 14th, their earliest ever. With three trails totaling ~4-6 km of beginner and intermediate terrain, it was looking like a great day to get back in the swing of things. I arrived to see only a few other cars in the lot, which I took as another good sign.

Lapland always has a cozy, laid-back vibe, which was amplified by the light traffic. Aside from the Lake Trail, it almost never feels busy; even on mid-winter weekends when the lot is packed, you can count on some quality alone time.

After snagging my day pass, I kitted up, put the headphones in, and slid off under a light snowfall to see how quickly I could shake the rust off.

Lapland prides themselves on their trail maintenance, and I have to give them credit for that. They did well with the snow they had, and managed to get nicely groomed trails throughout; especially impressive considering that the majority of the trails are tucked away under decent tree cover.

Fall skiing on Lake Trail

In retrospect, I wish I had taken classic skis over skate skis; the base-building snow meant that trails were narrower, softer, and lumpier than mid-season, and my learn-as-I-go skate skiing style resulted in catching a few tips in the soft snow at the side of the trail. After a few falls, I was pleasantly surprised to feel that my knees were intact, and nobody had seen my flailing.

Lapland’s classic lodge

By the time I was ready to head home, I had skied all the open terrain, lapping Vasa a few times. My tracks were still some of the only ones visible. I was still feeling rusty, but after a good workout, spirits were high. Skiing on all-natural snow in November is something that I hadn’t thought possible without spending several hours in the car.

If this winter continues on its path, it should be one a good one.

7 comments on “First Tracks at Lapland Lake

  1. Great news, i have skied at Thatcher park upper area three times in excellent snow . Rockwood state forest in Johnstown another goid option but area is frequented by Hunters so wear orange. Skied Garnet Hill in North River which had great snow even before they received 7 to 10 more inches so get out there before it rains

  2. question from a mostly ‘down hiller’ you said you wish you had taken the classic ski instead of the skate ski. I don’t know the difference. Plus, what is the difference between these two types and your “alpine’ setup that was not quite ready’? Thank you from Mr. Ignorant.

  3. Thanks for the info, David! I work in Johnstown, so Rockwood could be a great after-work spot. Are any of those areas groomed? I sadly don’t have any BC/metal edged cross country skis.

    P.S. if you’re looking for more skiing near Johnstown, our local cycling club built some mountain bike trails in Peck Hill State Forest that should be skiable. Trail markings might be an issue, but definitely worth a look.

  4. Hi snowsurfr,

    The classic and skate skis are the two main types of cross country skis. Both are very light and very skinny. The main differences between them are the skiing techniques and waxing.

    Skate skiing essentially looks like roller skating; you’re pushing off from one leg to the other, gliding with each push.

    Classic skiing involves putting a grippy wax in the center portion of the ski (the ‘kick zone’), which contacts the snow when you put weight on the ski, and is used to propel yourself forward. The motion looks sort of similar to walking. If you’re familiar with backcountry skiing or split boarding, the motion is the same as the technique for skinning uphill.

    The ‘alpine’ setup is just my normal downhill skis. Compared to cross country skis, much heavier and more robust

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