While there is no end to places to go cross country skiing in the region, Bloomingdale Bog is always a good fallback choice if you are in a pinch for time. After all, it is an out and back ski and you can easily tailor how long you ski with the time you have available. The trail is flat which does make it a tad less interesting than more hilly and varied terrain for experienced skiers, but level ground does have its advantages. For one thing, beginners may find it an easier place to learn.
In addition, our warm temperatures this week have led to melting and refreezing of our snow and all trails in the area have had a hard glaze on their surface. That can make hilly and winding trails a bit treacherous – particularly when we haven't had fresh snow in a while. After all, our trails are well used by the many active feet of hikers, snowshoers, and skiers and we all pack the snow down. The wide trail is also easier to negotiate in low light than most wooded trails, and I found my schedule this week pushing my ski excursions into the evening.
The flat ground of the bog trail is also good for practicing ski technique since the demands of the landscape are not great. I like using the bog trail for skate skiing as a result – the trail can be quite good for skating after it has been freshly groomed for snowmobiles. Grooming can make the trail wide and fast and a lot of fun.
I took advantage of recent grooming a few evenings this week – choosing to classic ski over skating, and using the flats to double-poll along the trail. Skiing on a trail used by snowmobiles is not without its hazards, however. Snowmobiles can drop chunks of ice and put divots in the trail here and there, but conditions were quite good this week. And of course there are the snowmobiles themselves. Yesterday evening a lone sled passed us, but we were prepared with lights so we could be seen more easily in the evening shadows, and he slowed appropriately as we stepped off the trail, holding the dog (who also has a light in case it gets dark) as he passed us with a courteous wave. That is usually how it works on the trail with snowmobiles, but skiers should be mindful that weekends – particularly holiday weekends – bring a much higher volume of sleds to the trail and with them the increased odds of less skier and walker conscious drivers. I generally avoid the trail at such times.
But my outings on the trail this week have been beautifully uneventful. I cruised along the fast track passing the series of frozen beaver dams and beaver lodges with their inhabitants snug inside. The fresh grooming had wiped out most animal tracks, but here and there I stopped for snowshoe hare or white-tailed deer tracks which had crossed the path. Except for a few black-capped chickadees, I found no birds in the cold woods, but I wasn't focused on wildlife anyway, but on getting a good workout and getting my ski muscles moving.
One of the great things about skiing on the bog trail is the chance to view the open expanse of the bog itself and the open sky above. As I returned to my car each evening my trip was accompanied by a pink and purple sunset reflecting its hues on the snow covered landscape below. And each time out ended with a beautiful array of stars and a visit from Orion hanging over the trees. A great way to end the day.