The entrance sign at Rock and River, Keene
My training week ended yesterday with a run along the Jackrabbit Trail. This 39 mile trail links the towns of Keene, Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Lake Clear and Paul Smiths with the mission of promoting skiing in the Tri-Lakes area. Its unique name is in honor of Herman "Jackrabbit" Johannsen, who was one of the many influential Norwegians to introduce nordic skiing and ski jumping to the US and Canada. Jackrabbit Johannsen in particular helped promote nordic skiing in Lake Placid through the Lake Placid Club just as the town began to grow as a winter sports mecca leading up to hosting the 1932 Winter Games. His advice was sought on such projects as the construction of the 1932 Olympic ski jump or as an instructor for the Lake Placid Club's Sno Bird Ski Club while living in Lake Placid with his family and working for the logging industry in Montreal.
I didn't attempt the full 39 miles of course, but instead covered the first few miles from Keene's Rock and River lodge back up to Placid and ended at the Olympic Training Center. After the end of a long summer of training and having spent a lot of time on some of the same trails, it was invigorating to revisit a good local trail with a point to point destination.
At the top of the pass the trails skirts along beaver ponds below high cliffs perfect for ice climbing.
I was also curious to check out this section of the trail again because on September 18th it will be my leg of the 2nd Annual Reason2Smile Trail Run. This is a fundraising run to help benefit the Jambo Jipya School in Mtwapa, Kenya. Why kids in Kenya - you might ask? Keela Dates from Lake Placid started the organization Reason 2 Smile last year to help poor, orphaned and at-risk children in Kenya with the mission that every child needs a reason to smile. In this case her organization is helping local communities in developing nations financially provide for the education and well-being of their children - their future.
The purpose and existence of the Jackrabbit Trail is a good reason to smile too. Jackrabbit Johannsen lived to be 111 and owed such vitality and longevity to skiing as he became known for his phrase: "ski, ski, ski".
Trail markers are posted by the Adirondack Ski Touring Council.
If you'd like to learn more about this trailblazer click here. Not only did he teach people in Placid how to ski, he was also well known for his abilities by Canadians in Ontario and Quebec, as well as the Cree Indians who are noted for giving him his nickname "Rabbit" for his speed and agility on skis on snow in the winter.