A Winter's Storm In March Means A Morning Skiing The Glades

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Chris Morris, an experienced back country skier, cuts back in a glade on Lyon Mountain in upstate New York.

Blizzards and deep snow walloped the East Coast this week, and for glade skiers, the late blast of winter was a joy. Glades are steep, wooded trails, sort of a cross between a cross-country route and the downhill slopes you find at groomed ski areas.

These days, you can find glades at many resorts. But the most beautiful are hidden away in remote, alpine forests, far from the crowds and the chairlifts. One of the most popular in the northeast is Lyon Mountain, located in a remote corner of the Adirondacks in upstate New York.

I'm a novice at this sport, but I figure there's no better place to get a glade skiing lesson than here on a recent bright winter morning. My guide is Chris Morris of Saranac Lake, N.Y., an experienced back country skier who's been coming here since he was a kid.

The trip promises the excitement and challenge of steep slopes and the remoteness and solitude of the deep woods. "There's a lot of snow out here," Morris says as we set off. "It's beautiful, a bluebird day. We are in the woods by ourselves and I think this is probably the place to be today."

We climb along gorgeous switchbacks through birch and maple. It's not easy trudging up, especially for my middle-aged legs. But after 90 minutes or so of steady climbing, we're finally there, not too far off the summit.

Looking down the side of the tree-studded mountain, I'm excited but I'm also nervous. Carving a line between those trees looks risky. Suddenly, the glade looks a lot less open, a lot more difficult to navigate. But we set off, letting gravity take over.

In some sections, it's an absolute blast — sort of like sledding as a kid, on the biggest hill you can imagine. But the truth is I'm a clumsy skier and the snow is heavy. Often my best strategy for missing trees is to sprawl like a toddler in the deep powder.

The joy is watching Chris. He slices confidently through the forest like a character in a fairy tale, flitting through sun and shadow.

"I don't know if it's the way my brain is wired, but I like the challenge of coming down through the trees," Morris says. "There's something about it, picking your way down and picking your line. I feel really at peace when I'm doing it."

Chris shows me what it's really like to fly through the trees, following the shape of the mountain. I can't wait to go back and try again.

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