Monday, March 1, 2010
Ski to Ilgenstein
Last week the snow gods were good enough to gift us another snow storm. After 2 days of shoveling, it was time for me to get out of the house before I went crazy. The mountains, just north and west of us had received two to three feet of snow. This is an incredible amount of snow for New Jersey. Many of the parks had not plowed their lots and some were just plain closed from snow damage. The thought of riding through the woods on a bike was becoming a lost dream.
Ringwood had a few parking lots plowed, so I declared a new route ski mission: XC ski to Ilgenstein Rock from Skylands Manor. Normally this route is too rocky to ski, but there was close to three feet of snow up there with drifting in the higher elevations. Art and Nate were the only skiers to show up for my mission. I really had no idea how far it was or how long it would take. Art guessed 4+ hours and was skeptical about the whole mission.
10:15 we set out on skis behind the gardens on the crossover trail. A set of tracks was already set from the day before. It was slightly glazed, offering little kick but plenty of glide. Up hills were tough without much kick. Once we reached the intersection of the Ringwood/Ramapo trail, the ski tracks stopped, so we broke our own. It may have been a little bit slower, but seemed easier to me.
By Ice Pond Rd, we were able to pick up my friend Nancy’s tracks from the day before. We took them all the way up Pearson Ridge to where the Blue trail turns off the road. Huge snowdrifts crossed the road creating a roller coaster affect as we rolled through the drifts. Nate pretty much dropped us on this climb. You can tell who has been keeping up with their secret training.
Once reaching the blue, we broke our own tracks all the way out to the lookout on Ilgenstein. As most mountain bikers know, the trail underneath is very rocky, but today we sailed over a blanket of white snow without a rock in sight. Trail markers were partially buried, and even the blueberry bushes were all under the snow. We had to stop several times to find our way, by searching familiarity, and contours, with no rocks or bushes to guide us.
The biggest problem was getting back up after you fell. The snow was so deep that you could not push off the ground with your arms. At one point I cramped my leg trying to get up. It is somewhat of a comical and helpless feeling. Actually much of XC skiing feels comical and helpless.
On our way back we skied more single-track and added in Warm Puppy to complete the ski mission at four hours. It was an amazing day. I don’t know if we will ever have this much snow at Ringwood again, so I am glad to have experienced this epic ski.
Today it is warm and the sun shines. The snow is melting fast and an old friend peeks out.