First Tracks of Winter: Skiing Freedom Park, Randolph NJ

Uh, change that headline to “first tracks of fall.”  Yeah, skiing in NJ in October is old news.  Two years ago, I skied in mid October on an inch and a half of snow, punching down to the grass.  When the weather forecasters predicted three to six inches for Saturday, I yawned and turned off the radio.  Who would have thought we’d get 15 inches in October?  There’s way too many of these freaky weather events.  Convince me that climate change isn’t real.

After digging out my driveway, we lost electricity and heat.  Nothing to do but fire up my dad’s 45-year-old old Coleman stove to cook.  After that, it was time to wax the rock skis and head to Freedom Park.

Conditions varied wildly from one section to another.  Alongside the football field, I broke through knee-deep powder.  In the woods, there was so much blowdown that I thought I was bushwhacking rather than following a well-traveled trail.  Widowmakers lurked in the tree canopy, waiting to fall.  I gave up trying to ski over to Shongum School and turned back, skiing up and down the power line hill.  In low-lying spots in the woods, I glided over compacted, sloppy slush.

I’ve had easier days skiing, but who said life is supposed to be easy?  It was great to be out.  It’s not often that you’re skiing in NJ before Craftsbury or Mount van Hoevenberg are open.  Freedom Park wasn’t the only skiable snow, either.  I had reports about good skiing at the Rockaway River golf course and at Waywayanda State Park.

It’s melting now, but it was great to get a little taste of winter.