Wednesday, June 20, 2012

New Jersey, A.T. Thruhike 2012

     New Jersey began with a walk through Delaware Water Gap National Park. It then took me on a climb up on a ridge line, past a perfect backpacker campsite area. It was a nice place, complete with views, and had a privy. It was much to early in the day though, so I continued on.
     The trail looped around Sunfish Pond, a beautiful glacial pond. I stopped and took in the sights here, enjoyed the wildlife, and snapped a few frame-worthy pictures.


Sunfish Pond

Sunfish Pond

      Nake caught up to me, and we walked and talked together for a while. We stopped at the AMC-run Mohican Center for a sandwich for lunch, and I pressed on alone.

     There was a fire tower along the trail. Climbing high above the trees, I could see it was raining both to the north and south, but it was sunny sky above me. Once again, I find myself lucky along the trail.

     After passing a few remote lakes, I climbed Rattlesnake Mountain, which required some actual climbing. Walking along the ridge, I heard thunder as clouds drew near, and I decided to set up camp. It turned out to be a very nice campsite, and I found serenity as I sat and enjoyed my dinner by my tent. A few rain showers occurred that night, and I fell asleep to the sounds around my tent.

     The following day, I enjoyed yet another fire tower more exquisite views on my lone walk. I climbed Sunrise Mountain, and took a short break on the benches at top. I took time to reflect on my life, and realized my outlook on things has changed. Having time to think on the trail has given me a chance to find out much about myself; who I am, and my desires. I've realized, for example, how a simple existence can make me much happier than any amount of possessions. I understand now the preciousness of life, and just how short it is. I want to see and spend much more time with friends and family... how fortunate I am to have so many wonderful people in my life! I also have decided that I would like to direct my career focus towards something more; to challenge myself, and to maybe make a positive impact.
     That night I spent the night in a shelter alone. It was a half-mile off the trail. It was a peaceful evening, watching fireflies and listening to crickets.

     The shelter itself was simple, constructed of old wooden logs. Someone with a sense of humor had climbed up and attached a satellite dish to the roof! It made me smile.
     That night, I awoke to sounds coming from outside. I turned on my headlamp, and found that there was a bear walking in the fields just outside the shelter. I watched him for a moment, then laid my head back down and fell asleep once again. Funny how I have become so accustomed to bears!
     Morning came, and I climbed back to the Appalachian Trail after breakfast, and continued on. I arrived at High Point State Park, and I spent a little time at the visitor center. I sent out a few post cards that the rangers were kind enough to see to it they would get sent.
     The trail came to a wooden platform, which gave views of the monument located on the highest point in New Jersey. The A.T. does not go to this point, however. I chose to take a side blue-blazed trail to the top, a short but steep climb.

     I was glad I did. The views from the top were breathtaking. I have to say, coming into New Jersey I didn't know what to expect. I am pleasantly surprised... this section of trail has been very nice. It isn't too difficult, at least in comparison to the rest of the trail, but it is very rewarding.

     I stopped in to the Jim Murray Property, home of the Secret Shelter, for a break. This man has built a heated cabin for hikers to use, complete with a water pump and a shower. It was a little slice of hiker paradise, and it was unfortunate I was only stopping in for a break.
     I pushed on, and ended up walking along a long boardwalk through bogs. It was an easy, quick couple of miles through bog, a very unique environment. I love the variety along this trail! It ended with a wooden footbridge over a creek.


View of the bog boardwalk
     After passing through some farmland, the trail dumped me onto route 94. There was a farm stand, and I gorged on fresh fruit! I had been craving nectarines, and was pleased at the delicious juiciness. One learns to appreciate the littlest things when one is backpacking this long!
     Back at the road, a kind person stopped to give me a lift to the church hostel up the road in Vernon, where I could shower and rest for the night. There was two other hikers there, Trotter and a southbounder.

St. Thomas Church
     The next morning, I climbed Wawayanda Mountain, and enjoyed some of my final views in Jersey. A few miles later, I was posing for a picture at the NY/NJ state line, with a huge smile on my face. I feel good... real good. And not just physically; I am truly happy. Life is just amazing.

Made it to NY!


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