Early on Sunday, Leonard showed up at my house and we drove to High Point XC. Groomed trails, right here in the Garden State. Proprietor Hans was out in the Prinoth touching up the trails when we arrived.
Originally, I’d been psyched to go to Bogburn. This tough classic race is on beautiful trails that have an old school feel. The Harry Eldridge skate race at Mount van Hoevenberg sounded great too: a new race loop – up Main Street, cut over to East Mountain, up Russian Hill, then veering on to the lower, inner section of Ladies 5, backwards! – sounded as though it may be one of the new routes ORDA submitted for FIS homologation. But sadly, neither could be on the docket this weekend.
If you’re reading this from afar, you might be like, “Spare me. New Jersey.” In some respects, I don’t blame you. The weather is sketchy, and some of the trails go over paved roadways. Meaning that with a low snow depth, your ice points are gonna hit pavement and your elbows are gonna hurt.
However, when people in this state see snow outside their house, they show up here in droves. Some are regulars. Others rent skis and get a lesson. Some of the newbies will catch the ski bug and stick with it, expanding our sport. And when the gods grace High Point with big dumps of pow, it’s very nice skiing without the time suck of of driving 200 miles one way.
Despite the warm weather on Sunday, High Point was great. Coverage was much better than I’d anticipated, with good grooming. The traditionally wet section of the Cedar Swamp trail was… wet. As it is even in the best of times. Duh. But a new catwalk on one side provided a nice detour above the muck. At the bottom of Steeny Kill, we had to check speed to navigate around several exposed rocks. Otherwise, coverage was great, and you could run good skis.
I don’t see Leonard all that often, but he’s always game for a big day. We went out to Mount Rainier and Glacier Peak a few years ago.. well more than a few years. He’s a regular on the annual Appalachian Trail sufferfest. He bagged the Stowe Derby a few years ago.
Hard wax over klister was the order of the day, until mid afternoon. If I’d thought to break out Toko silver or Swix yellow klisterwax or something of that ilk, we probably could have got another 10 km under our belts. Even at 2 PM, some of the trails remained packed powder, although many became glazed or wet.
During the day, we ran into several of the usual suspects. Tim Henshall was teaching. Jim Florance were there. Roy Selland took a break from teaching to stride a few km with us. Back in the day, he skied faster than I ever will. But I ain’t retelling any of his war stories.