The Crooked Canes Journal


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Mount Van Hoevenberg and OSC Adventure ~ Mar 30, 2016

Journal entry by Diane Wisell



After a week and a half of second guessing the weather forecasters, the dart we threw at Wednesday hit the mark providing us a day that couldn't have been more perfect for the outing planned at Mount Van Hoevenberg and the Olympic Sports Complex in North Elba. Four inches of snow fell in the area Monday night and much of it lingered through the following night's low of 13 degrees at 7.00 am Wednesday. Fortunately, it warmed up quickly and by the time we started our hike at around 10.30 under a crystal clear sky the temperature had risen to a balmy 39 degrees.

Snowy for most of the hike, though perfectly wonderful when one considers that we could have been breaking trail in 3+ feet of snow, our hiking boots were all that we needed through nearly a mile of level red pine forest, another mile of not-quite-moderate uphill through open hardwoods and a final three tenths of a mile through mixed spruce, mid elevaton species and rocky trail to the summit of Mount Van Hoevenberg and it's several generally south facing smooth granite overlooks with views that include many of the High Peaks. Getting hungry and eager to roost, we found the first overlook too windy, the second one too breezy and the third just right, sheletered from the wind and warmed by the bright sun. After leisurely eating lunch, oogling at the unbeatable Adirondack Mountain scenery, enjoying Cookie Monster Ed's cookies and Linda's chocolates we very slowly gained ambition enough to start our descent to the Olympic Sports Complex.

A little surprised to have been advised that spikes would be necessary for a short section, the basis of that advice soon became clear as we found a very nice patch of slick winter left-overs on pitches just steep enough to rouse us from the torper of our after lunch doldrums. A few minutes later, now at the top of the bob sled track built starting in 1930 for the 1932 Olympics and on the Register Of Historic Places, we were stowing our spikes before starting our own "Olympic" run. The first half mile, abandoned after 1932 because it was just too scary to run, appears now as if it were an old, now forested, logging road. We came out of the trees at a clearing where the original track continued on, upgraded for 1980 Olympics: 1980 state-of-the-art, refrigerated and constructed of concrete and steel. Coming into turn 6, we looked to our right at the 2000 track, an enormous, modern, above ground structure of concrete and steel almost completely immune to weather, snaking down the mountain. What an impressive upgrade from a ditch dug in the woods with some low rock walls along it here and there! More detailed history from a brochure titled "Historical Guide To Sliding At Mt. Van Hoevenberg" is at (copy and paste to your browser): www.crookedcanes.org/Schedules/Sched.Addendums/2016.03.31.About.Vanho.pdf

After a short while we were near the bottom where both tracks end but the fun wasn't done! Chinese bobsledders in town to train at the third of five tracks they are required to train on to qualify for entry in their own Olympics at PyeongChang, China in 2018 were about to begin their afternoon training runs! A number of us chatted briefly with some of them or just said "Hi, Welcome to the US!" All of them very cordial and smiling, they were apparently delighted to have an audience and we were delighted to watch them, which we did for quite a while at the three available viewing points where we were able to both watch bobsleds and talk with staff about many facets of their jobs and bobsledding in general. It's always an exciting experience no matter how many times one has seen bobledding, luge or skeleton. Mark, our Crooked Canes Director of Expedition Support Services had a grand time watching all three disciplines while waiting for us to come over the mountian.

Adding to an excellent outing where all of the pieces came together perfectly were the reactions to experiences individuals in our group had today ranging, in varying degrees, from warm memories of past experiences and family to those who for the very first time experienced anything like this. Absolutely priceless! For those who made the trip, we are so glad you were there; for those who couldn't make it, don't worry, it will happen again!

4/1/16 - joy munro added 7 photos. 4/2/16 - RayB Bouchard added 12 photos.

34 photos



Snurguling Canes circle a beaver pond not far from the start of our trip.



A little left over ice.



New Hampshire lost it's "Old Man" but we still have ours, albeit made of Chaga. Eat your heart out Margie!



Our group at the summit of Mount Van Hoevenberg, except for the one nobody can keep up with........



Ah Ha! Here he is, unbelievably not speeding along! Glad to see you out and about again Joe!



A lovely line of lovely Ladies!



Yup, there's a nice view!



Some of the Great Range.



Photo by Diane



Ice on a wall near the top of the 1932 track.



Joy starts her run from the top!



Now into the meat and potatoes of it, Joy enters Turn 6 on the 1980 track.



Joy displaying great form in Turn 7. It took a real fast shutter to keep this speeding whirlwind from being just a blur!



Not everyone was a speed demon, some opting to follow the road more traveled.



Munro finishes with a new record time of ...... well, we're Canes after all!



heading down 73 toward our destination, Algonquin shows through a pass - added by joy



At the start of our journey, Joe and Karen way ahead - added by joy



Photo added by joy



Turn 7 from another perspective - added by joy



a bobsledder heading down the straightaway--quickly! - added by joy



coming into the final turn before heading uphill - added by joy



at the finish line - added by joy



Barbara gives everyone a Fitbit lesson while we wait for the next sled to make its run. - added by RayB



Caught in the act, it quickly turned into another photo op. Hark, I hear a sled coming. It's time to go. - added by RayB



The rumbling was unmistakable above the roar of the crowd. The sled was almost... - added by RayB



...Here!... - added by RayB



...and there it goesss. It's on its way to the finish line. - added by RayB



The run is over all too quickly. Now it's time to move the bobsled off the icy track. - added by RayB



First, wooden guards must be placed under the sharp runner blades to protect them. - added by RayB



Final adjustments are made... - added by RayB



...just prior to loading the bobsled onto the truck on the left. Next it's transported back to the top for another run. - added by RayB



Hey Pete, do you think anyone would mind if we took this baby for a quick spin? - added by RayB



But in the end, when all the results were in, Joy was declared the winner. The Chinese delegation was stunned, as were we. C'est la vie. - added by RayB



I'll bet you were wondering how they keep the track iced so the sleds can hit 90+ mph? It becomes a bit of a challenge, especially when the air temperature is in the 60's, like today. The answer lies in the unique chemistry of a substance called ammonia. When the easily compressed liquid ammonia is allowed to rapidly evaporate the temperature quickly drops well below freezing. Note the ice formation on the 2 short, uninsulated sections of pipe exposed to moist air. - added by RayB




Thanks for coming along Maria, Barbara, Gretchen, Linda, Ray, Ed, Karen & Joe, Joy & Mark, Donna & Peter, Diane & Kurt!  If you couldn't make it, there WILL be a next time!

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