Wildcat Ridge: Dryland Season Comes Early

With freezing rain forecast for Sunday in southern Vermont, I decided to catch up on sleep and stay local. I don’t mind skiing in that stuff, but I’d prefer not to drive in it. After a leisurely breakfast, I set out for a run in Wildcat Ridge Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Rockaway, NJ.

wildcat ridge boulders

Wildcat Ridge covers about 3700 acres. With the nearby Mt Hope Park, Picatinny Arsenal, Mahlon Dickerson Reservation, and the Rockaway Valley WMA, you’re looking at around 17,000 contiguous acres of open land. Compared to New York’s big parks, that’s a drop in a bucket, but there are plenty of opportunities to run, mountain bike, and, at times, in the winter, you can even ski. If you’re ambitious,  you can go off trail to look for signs of the old ski jump at Lake Telemark.

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Another Plattekill Surprise

Surprise was a constant theme this season at Plattekill. At this point, I can’t remember much before the beginning of March, but since that time I can recount several unexpected and pleasant events.

plattekill groomer
Matt at work

First of course was Riley. Sure snowfall was predicted — anywhere from zero to 40 inches — but I’ll rely on the little known 40-Inch Rule, to postulate that any such storm is automatically awarded surprise status.

On the last day of March — a beautiful sunny day — the Cats served up some great corn, a rarity this spring. Then, last weekend, in the complete surprise category, was the 15-inch Saturday night POW event, featuring first tracks on Sunday that some called the best of the season.

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Prospect Mountain: Return to Forever

The March snowstorms that pummeled New York also left their mark on Vermont. Over eight days, Prospect Mountain, east of Bennington, received 80 inches of snow.

prospect mountain

With family commitments in the second half of March and warmer temperatures on the way, I thought my ski season would end at the Lake Placid Loppet. But in another surprise storm, the gods smiled and dropped five more inches of snow at Prospect late last Friday night. I had to work Saturday, but Sunday was full on for skiing.

If you’ve browsed NELSAP, you might be scratching your head — as they list Prospect Mountain as a lost ski area. Prospect opened in 1939 with a rope tow. Over the decades, it grew, but still relied on natural snow.

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