Magic Mountain…The Road Less Traveled

by Laura Clark

A  sign bearing this iconic line from Robert Frost’s poem greeted us as we turned onto the road leading to Magic Mountain. And with a -18 degree wake-up call, it certainly did seem as if we were on the road less traveled.  Jen Ferriss, Maureen Roberts, Karen Provencher and I scanned Bromley and Stratton for signs of life and spotted just one skier seemingly stuck somewhere halfway.  And no wonder—it was -26 at the top and that is not counting the self-produced wind chill from the ride downhill.

In an effort to simplify and avoid wasting brain cells on unnecessary activity, as urged by Steve Magness in Peak Performance, I have assembled a standard racing kit, one which has proven to be totally irrelevant in our current Arctic situation.  Who would have thought I would have needed three jackets, two pairs of pants, three shirts, two pairs of socks and two pairs of gloves?  And that was just for the car ride.  Granted, my heating fan took this day to protest, but who could blame it as it was 50 degrees colder here than in Juneau, Alaska!  Many of us ladies solved the progressively larger three jacket puzzle by pre-empting those owned by spouses or teenage sons.

The reason for the Christmas Story waddling penguin look was that Magic Mountain was only the stopping point.  The real race began in Lowell Lake State Park where we were deposited by shuttle and then instructed to hike in to the race site.  There was some grumbling among the troops, just because of the projected temperatures, but RD Mike Owens’ promise of a heated tent, akin to the confidence ribbons on a long trail race, gave us enough assurance to brave the Arctic.  I think we were all picturing a huge tent with blowers.  What we got was a small heated popup perched on the side of the trail, fittingly belonging to the Eskimo brand of outdoor gear.  But really, it wasn’t needed.  The sun was warm, the wind was silent and all was right with the world.

While we were waiting for the second group of passengers to appear, we joked that this was like one of the storied WMAC snowshoe races of yore.  Just a fishing shed off in the distance, teasingly resembling an outhouse and a picnic table covered with snow to deposit the precautionary layers we were now shedding.  We joked about the “good old days” when on frigid days Edward Alibozek would conduct registration from his car and the bib you were handed was supposed to last the entire race season, unless of course you brought an old favorite from home.  Those were the days of barrel heaters when Rich Busa got so close he once burned his Dions and then tried to get a free replacement pair claiming they were defective!

But who knows?  In just a few years, this race might go down in “good old days lore,” with its pristine singletrack through the woods reminiscent of the old Woodford’s turn around the lake.  We began in a South Pond-style conga line, all enjoying the deep snow until we separated into packs.  With the exception of a few newbies, we all knew each other and scrambled to get into proper alignment. And just like the good old days a big part of this race was the low key socializing as we sat around in the ski lodge’s Black Line Tavern drinking our free beer. The beer was so tasty that we stopped off at the local store to bring the experience home.

Normally after a race I heat up some tomato soup flavored with beer and the last-minute addition of cheddar and toasted pumpernickel bread—easy to prepare and filling to eat.  And the beer I chose to purchase for the occasion?  Farmhouse Ale Bam Biere, named in honor of the crafter’s tenacious Jack Russell, who when hit by a car, got up and persevered.  According to the brewer. “This beer is brewed for those of us who knocked down, have picked up, dusted off and carried on undaunted.”  As we all did today.

– Laura Clark is an avid snowshoer, trail runner, XC skier, race director, and 2017 World Snowshoe Federation Championship 70-99 Female Age Group winner. 

Snow-Covered Magic in Vermont

Sunday 1/7 saw the return of our series to Vermont, this time for the Winter Magic 3.5mi race at Lowell Lake State Park in Londonderry. 19 racers braved subzero wind chills to follow the snow-covered trail around Lowell Lake, then retired to the warmth of Magic Mountain’s Black Line Tavern for race results and refreshments. Josh Ferenc and Jamie Woolsey were first finishers. Special thanks to RD Mike Owens for putting on another top-notch event and to the Magic Mountain Outing Club for hosting the race.

Race results here.


WSSF North American Championships Presented by CockaDoodle Shoe this Sunday 1/14/18

This one is both a series race and the North American Championships for the World Snowshoe Federation. All the race info you could ever want can be found at the official race site, or you can get the basics on our own race page.

A couple of reminders:

  • there is NO DAY-OF REGISTRATION – you must preregister online, through  Saturday 1/13.
  • there is NO PARKING AT THE RACE SITE – all parking, packet pickup, etc on race day is at the Dannemora Community Center. There will be shuttles to take participants from the Community Center to the race site (approx. 9 miles.) Be sure to leave enough time to check in, get your gear set, and catch the shuttle.
  • after a January thaw for a good part of the week, the cold weather is set to return, heralded by some fresh snow (hurray) so conditions should be good but also cold on Sunday – be prepared for the cold weather, especially since you may have to wait a bit after finishing your race for the shuttle.
  • there is packet pickup on Saturday from 10 AM to 7 PM at Kinetic Running in Plattsburgh, for those who are already in the area.


There are two that I’m aware of:

On Saturday, 1/13, the annual Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Scramble will be held in North Conway, NH. Their FB page notes that the forecast is calling for rain but they think there’s enough of a base that it won’t be a problem – probably a good idea to keep an eye out there or contact the RD for any updates as Saturday morning approaches.

On Sunday, 1/14, the fine folks at Goose Adventure Racing are holding their annual Mendon Winterfest 8k near Rochester, NY. I’ve done the various iterations of this race quite a few times over the last 12 years and can definitely recommend it – plus they’re supposed to get a healthy snow storm Friday night and Saturday morning, so conditions should be excellent.