As Northeast skiers, we all know the heartbreak of a February deluge. We willingly ride the freeze/thaw rollercoaster from November to April. We accept the wind holds, the real risk of frostbite and still get out the door for dust on crust, or worse, dust on dirt.
But why? Why do we lace up our boots and go? Skiing isn’t exactly a low maintenance sport. First, the pile of gear is limitless. Some of us have one pair of skis - maybe they’re 20 years old, but they’re familiar and unwavering, reliable like the Christmas melt. Some of us, to the detriment of our bank accounts, have a corner of the garage devoted to our quiver - rock skis, alpine skis, backcountry skis, wax-able skis, skate skis, broken skis and of course the pile of old skis that we plan to turn into lawn furniture. Add boots, poles, helmets, skins and layers for every possible weather combination. Last, we have a pack (or several) that we stuff with extra puffies, dry gloves and socks, a first aid kit, three different waxes, a scraper, a brush, hand and toe warmers, snacks that don’t freeze at -23 and maybe some sunglasses that rarely make it out of the bottom of the bag because, well - the sun, much like the powder day, is an elusive and rare unicorn.
Yet we sign up for it, do it and love it. We love it even when it’s terrible, because a day on skis is better than a day not on skis. And frankly, don’t try to deny it, here in the Adirondacks, we secretly love suffering. Even better than suffering, we love to suffer together. We are proud, hardy and full of heart and we are drawn to the experiences and to the folks who bring those qualities out in us. We visit our favorite trails with our favorite people and we come out of the woods just a little bit better off than when we ventured in, even if it’s raining, even if it’s bulletproof.
FACT: Friendships, business deals and big dreams are born from getting outside and pointing our tips in the same direction. We are proud to serve a community who celebrates skiing, no matter the conditions. Here at BETA we feel like we’ve just crested a big, nasty climb with you and all of your support along with us. Let’s point em’ and send it.
STAFFING FOR TRAILS, TRAILS, TRAILS
BETA has added two new staff positions and is delighted to introduce you to the team. This exciting development stems from our recently completed strategic planning process and a recognition that we must prioritize professional development and increase our capacity to bring the organization to new heights. This will provide the Executive Director with some much needed assistance and improve BETA’s permanent staff capacity to help fulfill our mission.
Jackrabbit Rally Update!
As of today, 107 people have signed up for the Jackrabbit Rally! That’s 214 skis cruising around in the Adirondacks and beyond and a whole lot of love directed at BETA’s mission. We are so excited to see where you’ve all been. Don’t forget to share your adventure with us on social media if you have it (#jackrabbitrallyadk), or in an e-mail if you don’t.
If you have yet to sign up, it’s not too late! The Rally runs until March 20th. Plus, we have this theory that the more folks out there thinking about skiing, the more likely it is to snow. Trail magic. Believe!
Sterling Watchorn Trail Fund
As reported in our 2021 annual report, BETA was extremely fortunate to receive an unrestricted, one-time $250,000 donation in support of the organization’s mission. This incredible gift establishes the Sterling Watchorn Trail Fund to help improve the reach, effectiveness, and impact of our work in the greater High Peaks region of the Adirondack Park.
We’ve identified three strategic priorities for the Fund:
BETA will use a portion of the Fund to kickstart “transformational” trail projects in our service area that enhance and expand public enjoyment and access to community and backcountry trails for human-powered activities. Allocations from the Fund will be determined annually by the BETA Board, and will be used to leverage other sources of funding so that projects can be efficiently implemented to create an immediate benefit for our local communities.
For BETA, “transformational” projects are those that:
Transformational Trail Project: Keene 9N
This spring BETA will begin working with Peduzzi Trails Contracting, the Town of Keene and the Keene Youth Commission on the first phase of a new community trail system on a 112-acre tract on Route 9N above the East Branch of the Ausable River. The goal of this project is to establish a location in the town of Keene that accommodates numerous forms of non-motorized recreation with some of the trails optimized for gravity-oriented mountain biking (the property has roughly 850 feet of vertical drop - comparable to the “All In” trail at Hardy Road).
The 2021 Keene Strategic Plan highlighted the need to provide safe, positive and ecologically sound recreation experiences for residents and visitors alike, citing alternative trails as potential improvements to the town’s recreation structure. The property on 9N between Keene and Upper Jay is owned by Essex County and offers a rare opportunity to implement this vision through the development of a new multi use trail system and mountain bike skills area for people of all ages and abilities.
Though there has been a long-standing interest in mountain biking in Keene, there are very few places where bikers are allowed to ride and no specific mountain bike destinations without traveling to Lake Placid, Wilmington or Elizabethtown. With ongoing and increasing interest from Keene students and residents (bike to school day, school owned mountain bikes), there is a strong local demand for creating an outlet for this type of recreation in Keene.
In January 2021, BETA began working with the Town of Keene and the Keene Youth Commission to lay the groundwork for this project. We secured a $2500 grant from the Adirondack Community Recreation Alliance and the Youth Commission was awarded a $2500 grant from the Adirondack Foundation Generous Acts program. The Youth Commission utilized the funding to hire Luke Peduzzi of Peduzzi Trail Contracting LLC to do a site analysis of potential properties identified for trail system and pump track development.
Ultimately the county-owned property was selected as an ideal location for a 6-7 mile trail system as well as a larger pump track and skills park facility. Another site at Keene Central School was identified for a smaller pump track and bicycle skills facility. In the fall of 2021, Peduzzi Trails developed a conceptual plan and budget for both sites based on a phased approach to implementation.
Work will begin on Phase 1 of the new trail system in April and will include 2.5 miles of multi-use trails including a 1.1 mile easy loop and a 1.4 mile intermediate climbing trail with a multi-directional loop on top. Both trails will be machine-built. The climbing trail will eventually be used to access the terrain that will feature mountain-bike specific flow trails. Design and planning work for the flow trails is ongoing and we hope to start work on these in 2023. The first two multi-use trails will form the "backbone" for the rest of the trail system, and will immediately provide a safe, high-quality, sustainable recreation experience for the community.
BETA will contract with Peduzzi Trails to perform the majority of the work. Luke Peduzzi is a professional trail builder with many years of experience developing quality, sustainable trails for mountain biking and other human powered activities, primarily in the Catskills where he has worked for the Windham Area Recreation Foundation (WARF) and Tahawus Trails. He is a graduate of Keene Central School and resides in Jay.
BETA has allocated $50,000 from the newly created Sterling Watchorn Trail Fund (see story above) to kickstart this “transformational” project. In January, 2022, we were awarded $25,000 in matching funds from the Stewart’s Shops Foundation / Dake Family which made it possible for work to begin on Phase 1 this year. HUGE thanks to Stewart’s for your support!
While Peduzzi Trails completes additional site planning work, BETA will work with the Town and Youth Commission to implement a grassroots fundraising campaign at the local level. We have begun to receive earmarked donations for the project already (thank you to these early passionate donors!) We have also identified and will pursue multi-year state and/or federal grant funding in partnership with the Town and the Essex County Office of Community Resources to support future phases of the project.
BETA Trail Crew Enters 6th Season
Believe it or not, this year marks the 6th season of BETA’s seasonal, professional Trail Crew. What started in 2017 as a dream with a small chunk of money has developed into a permanent annual program supported through BETA membership contributions, donations, fundraisers, business sponsors and grants from local and regional sources. Since 2017, our Trail Crew staff have worked with volunteers and partner organizations to build over 12 miles of new singletrack trails in Wilmington, Saranac Lake, Lake Placid and Elizabethtown, and they’ve performed countless stewardship projects to keep our existing trails in great shape. BETA Trail Crew staff provide the expertise and full-time work schedule which is required for leveraging the efforts of a committed local volunteer force in achieving our goals.
We have some great Trail Crew projects lined-up for 2022, and many opportunities for volunteers to get involved in trail building, stewardship, and new outreach initiatives to engage and educate trail users. Here’s a quick summary of the work we have planned this year. Stay tuned for a schedule of volunteer days and more info as we get closer to the trail season.
This will be the 4th consecutive season where we’ve been unable to continue construction of approved new trails on state Forest Preserve lands. BETA will make the most of this continued delay and focus on completing important planning and design work for new mountain bike and ski trails in Wilmington, Lake Placid and Saranac Lake. This includes on-the-ground plans for completing the Fowler’s Crossing network, new singletrack in the vicinity of the Loggers trails, much needed reroutes of the Cooper Kiln trail, and new sections of the Jackrabbit Trail in the Sentinel Wilderness area.
THANK YOU for sticking it out til' the end. Please spread the good BETA news far and wide. We appreciate you all.