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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Cross country ski opportunities abound

For most of January there was not much snow and cross country ski enthusiast were complaining about the lack of snow for cross country skiing. February more than made up for that but the sub zero temperatures and wind chill factors kept most people inside for the past month. With the abundance of snow everywhere and the apparent return of more moderate temperatures, many people are looking forward to making up for lost time and getting in some Nordic skiing.
Among the many reasons for the popularity of cross country skiing is the fact that you can do it almost anywhere. Whether it is the field behind your house or some groomed trails in the Adirondacks, there are countless opportunities.
You can do it at your own pace. Some like to shuffle along and explore the scenery and nature at a slow pace, while others like to “burn it” and get lots of exercise and conditioning on an outing. It can be a few hours of fun and exercise or an all day expedition.
Some people like the competitive nature of the sport, while others prefer a quiet day alone on the trail with only the local wildlife punctuating the scenery. It is a chance to get outdoors, get exercise at whatever skill level or amount that you desire and enjoy nature while you are at it.
Equipment in cross country skiing has changed and evolved, just like it has it most sports. But at heart it remains a simple sport. Long skinny skis with boots attached at the toe are the essence of the equipment. The kick and glide remains the basic move and locking the heels allows a degree of control while gliding downhill.
There are several new designs of skis that give some slight advantages in performance. But unless you are a racer or an advanced skier the difference is insignificant. Don’t be intimidated by the various designs or variations. Check with a reputable ski shop when choosing the right skis for you.
Binding have generally evolved from the three pin, which clamped the boot at the toe, to the “kick” style which grips the toe area of the boot by a special bar. Again, don’t be too concerned. If you are buying used skis, either type works just fine. If you are buying new ones, the ski shop will mark and mount the bindings for you.
Clothing will depend on the type of activity that you will be engaged in. If you are going to be going at a steady pace then you will need lighter clothing to avoid heavy perspiration and overheating. For slower paces, or frequently stopping to admire the scenery, especially in open country, you will need warmer clothing.
A good idea is to carry a light backpack or belt pack to carry snacks, water, an extra sweater and gloves and other necessary items. Be sure to take a compass, an extra tip for the poles and simple tool kit for any lengthy trips.
The abundance of open country in the areas around here lends itself to great ski trips. As mentioned earlier, there are plenty of interesting short trips across the nearby fields and through the adjoining woods. Most of the area farms have log roads through the forests that make great ski trails.
State land at Stony Pond has a series of nested ski trails of different lengths. Brookfield State Forest contains many miles of unplowed roads as well as some challenging hills. The property of Verona Beach State Park on the east side of Route 13 has a variety of trails to explore.
All around the area there are countless old farm roads or abandoned dirt roads that invite winter travel by ski or snowmobile. The roads around Florence or “46 Corners” lend themselves to great day trips by dropping off a second vehicle at your destination.
For those who prefer groomed and set tracks with a warming hut and hot coffee at the end of the trail, there are always commercial cross country ski centers. The Osceola Tug Hill X-C Ski Center (599-7377) offers trails, rentals of equipment and facilities. The Salmon Hills Resort (599-4003) on County Route 2 and Noble Shores just beyond Redfield offers similar services and “yurts” for rental accommodations.
The Black River Environmental Association (BREA) is a private foundation that grooms ski paths from the Boonville Town Barn to Pixley Falls State Park. Here is network of interesting trails and all are free of charge. You can access them along Route 46 or in Boonville.
The Town of Inlet maintains several miles of cross country trails that are groomed and set over a variety of ability levels and interesting venues.  Access is at Fern Park and there is no fee for their use. There is even a loop that is lighted for night skiing. They also groom trails at the Inlet Golf Course and Limekiln State Campground. Rentals or services are available at the nearby Pedals & Petals Shop in Inlet.
For those who want to strike out on their own and try some new territory, nearby Oswego County has lots of snow and lots of cross country trails as well. The best known are the trails used for the annual Tourathon east of Sandy Creek. Other areas are the Chateaugay State forest east of Orwell or the Littlejohn Wildlife Management Area beyond Redfield.
So whatever your preference of area or style of skiing, there are plenty of opportunities for you in central New York. Again this year nature is dumping an abundance of snow upon us.  Why not take advantage of it and enjoy cross country skiing opportunities that we have.
State of Lake Ontario Meetings: The public will have the opportunity to learn about the State of Lake Ontario fisheries at public meetings held in March. Locally a meeting will be held Tuesday, March 10 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the DEC Training Academy, 24 County Route 2A, Pulaski (the former Portly Angler Motel).
DEC, and other organizations will make a number of presentations, including updates on the status of trout and salmon fisheries, forage fish and stocking programs. The meetings will provide ample time at the end of the scheduled program for the audience to interact with the presenters.
A statewide angler survey estimated more than 2.6 million angler days were spent on Lake Ontario and major tributaries.  The estimated value of these fisheries exceeded $112 million annually to the local New York economy.
Camping and RV Show: The Central NY RV and Camping show will be held at the NYS Fairgrounds this weekend, March 5 – 8. There will be all types of vendors with camping equipment, RVs, accessories and more. Hours will be Thursday noon – 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Call 487-7711 for more information.
Oneida County Mentor Program Women’s Hunt: The Oneida County Sportsmen’s Federation, National Wild Turkey Federation and other groups are joining together to give women a great experience during the regular turkey season. Women who sign up will have the opportunity for turkey hunting with a mentor on May 9.
During the weekend of April 11, women will learn from experienced mentors the basics of turkey hunting and practice their marksmanship at a shooting range under the supervision of certified instructors.
Women who are interested will need to have completed their hunter safety course by that date. They must complete an application and submit it to address below by April 1, 2015 or by email to  
Contact: Women’s Turkey Hunt, C/O Mr. Scott Faulkner, 3720 Wells Gifford Rd, Vernon Center, NY 13477. Phone 315-829-3588


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