Feeling exponentially better, leg-wise, I went to the Snow Bowl in Mahlon Dickerson for an old school moosehuf workout. With four hundred feet of vertical gain, the Snow Bowl used to be one of my regular training venues, but in the last few years, I’d been there perhaps twice.
Compared to perhaps five years ago, the ski trails are now quite overgrown. There’s plenty of debris and blowdown, making for poor footing in most places. The herd path down to the base lodge is now completely overgrown. Young trees have made all the ski trails narrower than they were forty years ago.
Today, I opted to moosehuf the access road to the recently built cell phone tower. This road has also changed since the last time I ran here. Instead of a collection of ruts and minor landslides trying to masquerade as a road, it’s now a decent mix of dirt and gravel. While I don’t like the cell tower, today it made sense to use the road with its superior footing. During my warmup, I stopped to take some photographs.
This neighborhood ski area operated for perhaps a dozen years from the early 60s to the mid 70s. While a post on Skiernet’s article about the Snow Bowl posits low-snow years as the cause of its demise, I suspect that the lure of areas with bigger vertical drop, more après-ski amenities and the rising cost of insurance may also have driven this place out of business. Liz Holste’s book Skiing in New Jersey?, a great source about the history of alpine skiing in NJ, devotes space to the Snow Bowl.
On yet another scorchingly hot and humid day this workout left me gassed: it was the hardest thing I’ve done since the App Gap race, and certainly the hardest foot workout since I hurt myself. Five repeats by five minutes, level four; that would suffice for an early August day. In the middle of the hill, the grade approached 10%; I was reduced to walking that section rather than bounding.
As I returned downhill following my warmup, I espied a man walking up. He was at least 75 years old, and he made me look fat. A bit less than six feet tall, wearing a hat, T-shirt, blue shorts and stout leather shoes. He was ascending, and we stopped to chat. Speaking with a central European accent I couldn’t identify, he said that he’d skied there back in the day. How many NJ kids stayed inside today, taking air-conditioned refuge to play video games?