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Picking our way across Marcy Brook on the Mr. Van ski trail. Photo:  Phil Brown
Picking our way across Marcy Brook on the Mr. Van ski trail. Photo: Phil Brown

Backcountry skiing in the tracks of Mr. Van

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It's been a tough winter so far in the Adirondack backcountry for skiers and snowmobilers. But in some parts of the North Country there's been just enough snow for a good deep woods trek.

Brian Mann set off last weekend with Phil Brown from the Adirondack Explorer magazine to ski the "Mr. Van" trail.

It's a traditional route that connects two of the most popular destinations in the High Peaks, the Adirondack Loj and the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Ski Area.

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Reported by

Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

To get a taste of the sounds and the joy of the Mr. Van ski trail, click Listen above. But here are some additional impressions for folks who might think about making the trek.

The trail has been freshly cleared, making it once again a worthy outing, especially for folks who've hit most of the other routes in the High Peaks area.

We weren't the only ones gliding on the snow.  An otter trail crossed our ski path. Photo: Phil Brown
We weren't the only ones gliding on the snow. An otter trail crossed our ski path. Photo: Phil Brown
For more beginner or intermediate skiers, it's best to start from the Adirondack Loj and ski toward the Mt. Van Hoevenberg cross-country ski area. 

The climb is gradual, and you avoid making steep descents through winding terrain. 

In fact, most of your downhill will be on the professionally groomed trails at the ski area — a joy to ride after a long stretch of uphill.

On the other hand, if you're someone who likes glad skiing, and there's plenty of deep powder, I would suggest doing this route in reverse, climbing up to High Notch at the ski center, and descending to the Loj.

The original Mr. Van, in a photo from the Lake Placid tourism website.  Love that leather suit.
The original Mr. Van, in a photo from the Lake Placid tourism website. Love that leather suit.
You would burn through most of your climb on easy, groomed trails, then spend the rest of the day descending some fun, sporty terrain.

Just be sure there's enough snow and cold to fill in the many gullies and creeks. Otherwise, your descent will be a mess.

Also be extremely careful fording the creeks. Wet boots this time of year is a bad thing. 

We got a late start and were up on the ridge just at sunset, watching the light slant in over the mountains. Absolutely stunning views through the pines.

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