Heaven Hill Trails- A Short Walk Through the Woods

Instead of staying inside and not enjoying the day before work, my partner and I decided to take a picnic trip to Heaven Hill in Lake Placid. This is a trail system comprised of short hikes through the woods and in open fields. We decided to do both the Big Field Loop and the Old Orchard Loop.

Every time I’ve walked this trail runners and walkers are present with their super kind and adorable pups. It’s definitely not a quiet trail if that’s what you’re seeking, but it isn’t over saturated. Lovely views are everywhere. Each field provides a different angle of the peaks. The forest surrounding the fields is lush and dense. It was full of birds during this short trip.


We were about halfway through our stroll when we heard what sounded like someone starting a large farm vehicle- turned out to be thunder. It was a good thing we both had rain coats for this chance storm. Mine was used for protecting my camera and I got soaked, but it was a warm pre-summer rain and quite lovely to embrace. The coolest part about this experience is that when we made it to the Old Orchard the storm had moved over the peaks. This provided us with a view of the now sunny day over us, and the storm emptying over the mountains. It was certainly worth the wet.


All in all Heaven Hill Farm is definitely worth a check in. On a day when you’re short of time it’s the perfect option. It isn’t far from town, and the trail is short without too much elevation gain. This trail is perfect for running and cross country skiing as well. For specifics and directions check here.

Thanks for reading, and remember that the outdoors are always there just waiting for us to meet up with them. They’re super forgiving and won’t give us a hard time for taking some space, but they’re always missing us. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to get out there, just take it!

Hugs and Backpacks,
BB.

Embrace Spring Skiing at Whiteface

Spring skiing is here early this year. Avid snow lovers certainly would have loved a longer winter season but the early rains and high temperatures have given us what may be spring. We are lucky enough to live near a mountain that provides us with snow-blowing so we are holding on tight to our top-most trails. We also have been graced with some fresh snow this week.

Deals:
Whiteface has offered a sweet deal to those who will be skiing the East NY next year- if you buy a seasons pass for winter 2017/2018 they will grant you free skiing for the rest of this season.
Whiteface will also continue their usual deals- Why Not Wednesdays when you bring a Coca-Cola product for a full-day lift ticket of $48 & Give Back Sundays when you bring a donation for listed non-profits and receive half off.
Liftopia also is a great option for cheaper lift tickets. I haven’t personally utilized this site because a season pass is worth it for me, but I have heard several success stories.

Week Days:
Is the mountain super crowded? There aren’t enough trails open anymore to avoid all of the people? Kids everywhere and people blocking your path? This is because you have visited Whiteface on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. During the week this time of year Whiteface is an epic playground. There have been days when I’ve felt like the only person on the mountain besides the liftys. —>Side note: Appreciate, Appreciate, Appreciate. Those liftys, those cooks, those on register, those are your mountain people. They are working while you ski so they can ski. They’re inside and running lifts on the best days for YOU. They have name tags so learn their names and use them. Tip the cooks a little extra on those sunny days. We all need each other. <—

Technique:
The snow is softer because the days are warmer, or because it’s March it could be sheer ice. How do we deal with these severely varying conditions?  Technique.
Hit a patch of ice? Breathe, and slide until you can catch edge. Engage your core. Don’t let fear overcome, snow exists on the other side of those three seconds of pure terror. Even those who ski well fear falling on ice.
Snow suddenly soften? Keep your tips up and drop your butt slightly lower. Engage your lower body. Power through those slow wet patches with ease.
Catch a patch of fog? Look ahead. This is great technique for all skiing but sometimes it’s hard to look away from your skis or out of your close vicinity. Skiing is like driving. You want to constantly be changing perspective from left to right, near to far, so no small details are missed. Eyes always open and alert.

Layering:
I’ve shared thoughts previously about layering and what I wear to the mountain, but spring skiing is a little different. On a warmer day (40+) I like to make sure I have on an entirely wicking base layer (no cotton!). One pair of extra socks and gloves always go into the pack. Also an entirely waterproof outer layer as opposed to maybe a usual down jacket is smarter on warmer days in case of falling. The snow will be meltier than usual.

Last but not Least:
Whiteface is a huge mountain, and is meant to be explored. Leave your comfort zone, whatever that is, and try some trails you haven’t previously visited. Recently I’ve found that I consistently explore the same path while on Whiteface. This weekend a friend was visiting from out of town and we took him skiing. He loved riding down Excelsior -blue trail-, practicing his turns, looking at the mountains, and just cruising. It gave me a new appreciation for those trails that I have dubbed “not difficult enough”. My favorite trails have been closed for two weeks -glades- and I really learned to love the rest of the mountain. Taking it easy, appreciating the view, and carving some solid turns makes for a different kind of awesome day. As of tonight we’re fully into spring. This means appreciating the little things like stopping to smell the evergreen!

Have fun out there!

B.B.

 

 

 

Buy Warm Gear Near Lake Placid! (and Support Small Business)

 

 

All of these exciting outdoor winter sports get cold sometimes, and it’s completely inevitable- as we all know. Regardless of this fact, it’s still difficult to locate the best warm gear. The choices are difficult to work with because we only have 2,
1. Spend tons of money for quality gear, or,
2. Buy a less expensive gear and have to replace it often

These aren’t great choices. When it comes down to it, I’ve learned that it’s better to save up and buy from better brands. This can be lifesaving gear so it’s best not to mess around with cheap crap.  Some of them (Osprey, L.L. Bean, etc.) come with lifetime warrantees and will replace your gear. Other quality brands I’ve worked with (Patagonia, Sorel, Spyder, Burton) are also more than happy to replace or repair gear that has been damaged while being used for its purpose. Most of these brands are offered at local gear stores in the area which I love to support. They often have sales and it’s wonderful to try on expensive items before purchasing.

Lake Placid Gear Discounts:

If you’re looking to find some of the gear I’ve purchased at a cheaper price, try out these awesome gear stores in or near Lake Placid. They’ve treated me well and will do the same for you!

    • High Peaks Cyclery-
      • High Peaks is across from the Bowling Alley Bowlwinkles, on lower Main Street, Lake Placid. It’s a high quality shop offering brands like Patagonia, Arcteryx, Deuter, and more. They’re known for their mountain bikes and AT gear, but they also offer a guide service and tuning both of which are extremely reputable. All of that being said, I have found some of the best sales of my outdoor buying career at HPC. Every couple of months they offer a 50% off rack with tons of great buys. They also offer one of the only discount rooms in Placid. This “Recyclery” is in the back of the shop on the right side and is filled with all kinds of shoes, clothes, and gear. The owners are knowledgeable, kind, and super active. This place promises a good deal.
    • The Mountaineer-
      • The Mountaineer in Keene is on 73 about 35 minutes from Lake Placid. This is a huge gear shop filled to the brim with awesome outdoor goodies. It is expensive as all gear shops are but conveniently placed are a couple of sale racks on the second level of this shop. On my last visit there I picked up a beautiful Woolrich sweater for only $35! Also- the employees aren’t pushy as I’ve noticed elsewhere. They’re helpful and genuine.
    • Lake Placid Ski and Board-
      • This shop has been in town for a long time and for good reason. The owners are super knowledgable and remember locals. This is a great spot for all of your downhill gear. They have awesome jackets and snow pants, under layers, helmets, bags, skis, poles, and boots. They always offer great deals and have sales on last years items. Well chosen gear for a cool little Main Street shop.
    • Cunninghams-
      • Cunninghams has been hit or miss for me since moving to Placid but I need to shout out to them for my awesome skis. I was searching for the perfect skis when I fell into an amazing deal at this shop. ‘Last year’s’ skis, same as the new but with different design and less than half the price. They are still the best skis I’ve owned after 3 years of use. Don’t mark the ski barn off, they have great deals and great service.
    • Placid Planet:
      • Placid Planet carries the best alpine race gear in town and they also offer a wonderful tune-up. Their road bikes and tuning are highly regarded as well (spring is coming)!
    • Blue Line Sport: Saranac Lake:
      • If you are in town for a couple of days (Or years! You may just love it here and stay!) definitely check out Saranac Lake. It’s a wonderful town with history and quirkness. The restaurants are delicious and the stores are super unique. Blue Line Sport is one of them. They have tons of great base layers, sweaters, and slippers. My family got many of our ski clothes and other outdoor gear there growing up. Definitely worth a stop– frequent sales!
    • EMS-
      • While EMS isn’t a local store, it’s a great option for gear that you might not be finding at other spots in Placid. EMS isn’t great for downhill gear, but is great for downhill clothing like Smart Wool and Darn Tough socks (often on sale). They have the best spread of hiking boots, climbing gear, and Osprey packs in town. EMS is known for being expensive as other gear stores are, but if you shop right it can be cheap! Becoming part of their rewards program gifts you $10 when you build up points (I have $40 saved right now!) and furthermore they have great seasonal sales. Head to the secret gear spot downstairs and in the back usually there are a couple of sweet sale racks! You never know what you may find.

Aside from all of these awesome shops be sure to check out the other small businesses in our beautiful surrounding towns. Their character and originality are so inspiring. The shop owners and employees are so practiced, knowledgeable, and helpful.  #shoplocal #shopsmall !!

Check out my next post for what I wear to the mountain and how you can find similar gear!

Thanks for viewing!
Hugs and Backpacks,
B.B

 

5 Steps Toward Mindful Cross-Country Skiing

It’s snow globe time in Lake Placid. This means soft twinkling lights in every shop, toasty outdoor fires, rich hot cocoa, and aromatic balsam. Skiing though, tops the list for many of those native and local to the area.

On the surface cross-country (x-c) skiing is what it sounds like- fun exercise; popping two boards onto your feet and sliding across the snowy earth. Depending on your experience with x-c skiing this can be somewhat difficult. I can assure you though, that with a small amount of dedicated time it will become a thoroughly enjoyed practice.

As a beginner the focus should be on staying balanced. As you begin to find your center, skiing will become less of an outward focus and more of an inward focus. There are uncountable number of steps that one can take toward this inward focal mindful skiing. I have gathered 5 that have helped me in my personal journeys.

1. Synchronize Breathing with Strides
Incorporating breathing into every physical activity has completly changed my perspective and ability. Breathing deeply naturally calms the body and gives it a nourishing treat of fresh oxygen. Especially in the middle of beautiful and aromatic evergreen trees of the Adirondacks, full of year long life.
A strategy that works for me is to incorporate breathing into my strides. Each stride is either a breath in or out. Each single breath might take more than one stride, it’s about your own personal comfort and speed. Work at this technique and practice to find your rhythm; stick to a rhythm that feels comfortable and calming.

2. Correct Form
Now you are in the middle of the woods, balanced, and breathing, a short list of lovely things for your body, mind, and soul. At this point sliding woods should be enjoyable and relaxing.  Practicing good form is another step toward relaxing in your practice and getting internal focus accomplished. In everyday life good form comes from better posture, deeper breathing, and steady focus. These things can be accomplished by applying them while skiing. Good form in x-c skiing is an athletic stance with feet shoulder width apart. Glide as if you are moving on an elliptical. Use your right ski with left pole and the opposite to ensure easiest forwarding motion. And lastly, always tighten your abs for extra control with winter sports. Eventually you should be feeling in a meditative state of focusing on your breathing and movements being paired.

3. Extend Mind and Body
Once you’ve accomplished a form that feels comfortable it’s time to push yourself a little bit, yes push yourself! Relaxing your mind comes with some element of also extending your mind, so metaphorically we’re going to tie together extending the mind and extending the body. Think about reaching for your future, and being mindful of challenge. Extending body-extending mindfulness. While reaching for your goals remember to extend your legs and arms just a bit further. This will be difficult but rewarding. It’s a better work out and much more fun. Your body and mind will thank you dearly.

4. Address Adversity
We got through all of that. We are balanced, we are breathing in sync with life, we have better form and posture, and we are extending toward a mindful challenge. Now the real challenge has officially arrived. Whatever this challenge may be, something going on in personal life or work life, getting better at skiing, etc, this will be embraced by your ability to set aside these issues and focus on your inner self. Embrace aches and pains on the ski, embrace recent emotions, and hardships, and then let them go as you extend toward your future goals. This adversity is important to teach us to push ourselves, even just a little. There will be difficult sections, you will fall, and you will get tired, but this will help to prepare you for all of life’s little curveballs. Being able to return yourself to balanced posture and steady breathing will help on your ski and every day. Begin again slowly, and allow for pride in pushing yourself far enough to fall. Staying in a comfort zone keeps us in the same place forever. Those practicing their hardest are going to fall, and we will deem these falls a vision of success.

5. Create Goals
The last and most important step of this mindful skiing session are the goals that are created along the way. I personally use my outdoor activities to allow for something that has really been pressing my mind to come to fruition and work itself out. For me there’s nothing better than a good sweat in the middle of the woods for figuring out my life’s problems. X-c skiing is a great example of this not only because of its exercise, but its connection to the earth right between the trees. You’re surviving with what you’ve brought- which better be adequate at best!- and you’re surrounded by your thoughts. Don’t let the thoughts overwhelm and create tension. Try to best understand the feelings present and create goals based on those feelings. From there move forward with your balance and breathing as discussed. Ski faster or ski with better mindfulness, whichever makes you happiest! Whatever the case may be, make it calming, and make it about you. These are steps toward self-understanding! Love yourself first. 🙂

Hugs & Backpacks,
Bee