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Jackrabbit Rally goes virtual, kind of

The Jackrabbit Rally is ongoing. (Provided photo — Barkeater Trails Alliance)

SARANAC LAKE — “‘Ski! Ski! Ski!’ like the Jackrabbit!” is the call to action from the Barkeater Trails Alliance in its ongoing Jackrabbit Rally, which started Jan. 21 and ends on March 21.

BETA Executive Director Josh Wilson said the organization is asking people to get out on cross-country skis wherever they can and share their “choose-your-own ski adventure” on social media.

Cost of admission is $35, the number of years the Jackrabbit Ski Trail has existed for and participants will receive a t-shirt bearing the slogan “Ski Like Jackrabbit.”

The trail links towns from Paul Smiths to Keene and is named after Herman “Jack Rabbit” Johannsen, a legendary Norwegian cross-country skier who lived for a spell in Lake Placid and forged trails through the woods all around the area.

Participants are asked to tag @betatrails in social media posts and use the hashtag #jackrabbitrallyadk. Sign-up for the event is at https://bit.ly/3ka7BdX.

“We’ve been kind of joking, we don’t like calling this a virtual event,” Wilson said. “We want you to actually go skiing. We might not all be together, but you’re still skiing.”

Wilson said this rally is a general fundraiser in the place of its usual fundraising winter events, which have been cancelled this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said instead of hosting a ski movie at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts or holding a ski- and pool-party at the Crowne Plaza hotel, BETA is telling people to simply get out and enjoy the trails.

Money raised will go toward maintaining BETA’s trails — the 42-mile-long Jackrabbit and around 100 miles of other ski touring and mountain bike trails.

“A huge chunk of our budget each year goes back into all the trail systems,” Wilson said. “Virtually everything goes back into sustaining the trail systems we are a part of.”

He said the organization hires seasonal trail crews to do construction and maintenance in the summer, maintains insurance on the trails which cross through a combination of state, town and private lands and purchases materials for bridges and signs.

Costs vary year-to-year, he said.

“Depending on the cost and the work involved we do foot the bill for improvements to the trail unless we can secure finding for specific projects,” Wilson said.

Wilson said BETA does not have any large projects or trail additions planned currently, partially because of the coronavirus.

“In the Jackrabbit there’s a few different projects in the works to add new sections of trail but they’re all kind of held up right now because of lawsuits over tree cutting on state land,” Wilson said.

These lawsuits are not related to BETA’s work, but are over a park-wide legal battle Wilson said is holding up projects around the Adirondacks.

He did say BETA plans to work with the Ausable River Association to do work on the Keene end of the Old Mountain Road segment of the Jackrabbit.

Wilson said there have been around 150 participants so far, and that he is glad to see both familiar faces sharing their adventures out on the trail and new people discovering the Jackrabbit and cross-country skiing for the first time.

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