November 29, 2021

Skiing is hot

Locals take advantage of snow

Photos by Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Lisa Bellnap of Action Sports in Cortland shows an extreme back-country cross country ski, which is shorter and wider than conventional cross country skis.

CORTLANDVILLE — In minus 12 degree temperatures, Glenn Reisweber and a group of students made their way to the snow-covered trails at Lime Hollow Nature Center. They were out in the frigid cold for one reason — cross-country skiing.

This year there has been an increase in people interested in cross-country skiing, said Lisa Belknap, co-owner of Action Sports, 64 Pendleton St. in Cortland. Last year, there was snow, but not a good base for skiing.

Reisweber has also seen an increase of cross-country skiing at Lime Hollow over the past several years as the Nordic Center has gained popularity. He’s seen people from as far as the Binghamton and Otisco areas come for skiing.

Before the group took to the trails outside in the cold Wednesday, Reisweber spent 45 minutes talking about proper clothing.

Why worry about proper clothing? Because the group of Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES students planned to go cross-country skiing in minus 12-degree weather. “You don’t want to be a winter whiner,” said Reisweber, director of the nature center.

Reisweber said 90 percent of the high school senior students hadn’t been cross-country skiing before. However, it wasn’t long until they picked up the activity.

Lime Hollow Nature Center Superintendent Matt Fendya treks the cross-country trails at the center Friday.

People need to know what they are doing, not just with skiing but with clothing as well, he said.

People should dress warmly, starting from the bottom up. “No cotton,” Reisweber said. “My preferred fabric is wool.”

Feet, hands and head are essential to keep warm with wool. “Wool retains heat even when wet,” he said.

Two to three loose layers of clothing is preferred and wear mittens as opposed to gloves. Reisweber uses a three-layered system: a base layer comprised of a thin wick-away material like merino wool, followed by a second layer typically a fleece vest. A final outer layer of a lightweight jacket that sheds water.

The only time Reisweber recommends wearing a big bulky coat is when people are outside and not doing much moving, he said.

Where to go skiing

• Lime Hollow Nature Center in Cortlandville
• Greek Peak Mountain Resort in Virgil
• Bear Swamp in Moravia
• Highland Forest County Park in Fabius
• James Kennedy State Forest in Virgil, Harford and Lapeer
• Tuller Hill State Forest in Virgil
• All trails on state Department of Environmental Conservation lands are also open to cross-country skiing. For a list of places, check out

Last Wednesday through Friday, weather conditions had met Reisweber’s standards for cross-country skiing, he said.

The best temperatures for cross-country skiing are between 15 and 25 degrees, he said. “Above 25 and the snow starts sticking to the skis,” Reisweber said.
The ground should be frozen with 3 to 4 inches of packed snow over it, followed by 1 to 3 inches of fresh powder, he said.

One way Reisweber gauges it — if the snow is above the knee, it’s good for snowshoeing and if snow is below the knee, it’s good for skiing.
“Try it first,” Belknap said. “Rent some skis and give it a whirl.”

Lime Hollow offers a free beginners course, Reisweber said, and it’s one more thing to do outside.

“People should take advantage of the snow,” he said.