Monday, July 6, 2015

Day 95- New Jersey, Who Knew

July 5, 2015
Stealth Campsite(1304.2) to Stealth Campsite(1321.4) 17.2 Miles

I was up before my alarm this morning. I was anxious to get started today. I was planning on hiking into town to watch the World Cup final. It was only 17.6 miles to get to Branchville, but I wanted to get there by three. Branchville doesn't have very many options for lodging or resupply so I wanted to have plenty of time to figure things out. I also thought the soccer game started at five, I would discover later that it actually began at seven. 

I began the morning with a small uphill climb. What I discovered at the top of the climb surprised me. 
A beautiful view

Who knew that New Jersey was so amazing. I had this preconceived notion of New Jersey, but boy was I wrong. This section has been very nice so far. I walked along a ridgeline with views like this for most of the morning. Once I got back into the treeline I heard a rustling in the woods. When I turned to look I thought what I was seeing was a person squatting behind a tree, so I did the decent thing and looked away, but then something made me turn around and look back. What I was actually seeing was a small adolescent bear. It was trying to hide behind a tree. As I got my phone out to take a picture it turned to look at me head on and then scampered away. I think that is bear number eleven. 
Good morning bear

The next bit of hiking was a nice gradual downhill into a valley. Once again New Jersey was full of surprise for me. 
New Jersey Swamp

When I think of swamps, I think of Florida and Louisiana, not Jersey. It was pretty cool to see and hear all of the wildlife. The rest of the day was spent walking along ridgelines and descending into pine forests. I really enjoyed the variety of scenery after the dullness of northern Pennsylvania. 

The weather was absolutely perfect. The sun was shining and there was a nice cool breeze. More rain is forcast for the rest of the week, but it was nice to enjoy such a pleasant day in the middle of the summer. 

The hike into town was interesting to say the least. I walked out of the woods and into a very busy highway. A steady stream of cars was heading out of town, all of the tourists were heading back home. 

I passed by a gas station and was amused to find out that all gas pumps in NJ are full service. That means you just sit in your car and a gas attendant pumps the gas for you. How old fashioned. 

I had decided to watch the game at a bar called, Gyps Tavern. It was located very close to the trail and is very hiker friendly. I figured I could watch the game and then hike a few more miles out of town. As I walked in a nice couple asked me if I was hiking the AT. When I told them I was, they offered to buy me a beer. We sat out back next to a nice lake. They asked me a million questions and I had a nice time chatting with them. Once they left I tried to figure out a plan to resupply, but didn't see a whole lot of options. The gas station didn't have a convenience store and the closest place was a two mile walk on the busy highway with no sidewalk. I didn't have much time to figure things out because, T Square, another hiker showed up. We chatted for a little while and he also bought me a beer. At this point it was almost five, so I decided to ask the bartender to put the game on. When I looked up what channel it was on I discovered that it didn't start until seven. Oh, crap. With the later start time I wouldn't start hiking again until dark, so I decided to get a hotel. The only option was 2.4 miles down the busy highway. We spent a few minutes trying to hitch, but nobody was stopping. T-Square and I decided to walk it. The tiny shoulder kept disappearing, it was not a fun walk and I was glad when it was over. The Forest Motel was a small 10 room dump. I really didn't want to pay to stay there, but I wanted to watch the game so I coughed up the cash and got the last room. It was now 7:02, so I hurriedly turned on the tv. I learned something new, Dish Network doesn't have local network channels. Which was horrible for me because the game was on FOX. Ok, take a deep breath and come up with a new plan. 

I told the owner I needed a refund and wasn't staying. After a lot of back and forth, she finally agreed to refund my money. I asked for a ride back to the bar, offered her $10, and she relented. I was pretty irritated with myself and missed most of the first half. Now I was back at square one, Gyps Tavern. I was happy to be able to watch the rest of the match, but I had no idea where I would stay. I decided to eat dinner and hike out before dark. The US had a big lead, I would have liked to watch all of the game, but hiking at 9:00 didn't seem smart. By the time I finished eating it was almost dark anyway. I asked to pay and the bartender informed me that the lady sitting next to me had already picked up my tab. 

Thanks, Darlene. So far the citizens of New Jersey have been awesome. Darlene offered to take me to a Holiday Inn Express a few towns over. I would have loved to take her up on it, but wasn't sure how I would get back to the trail in the morning. In the end, I night hiked half a mile southbound. I had scoped out a few sights on my way into town in case something like this happened. Setting up camp in full darkness with nothing but a headlamp was challenging, but I finally got a chance to use the headlamp. The first time I've used it this whole trip, yay! 

In the morning I'll see about a quick resupply and then head out. I was planning in taking it slow tomorrow anyway. My legs and feet were sore today and I don't want to push too hard. I think a zero day is in my near future. 

"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal." -Henry Ford


  1. North Jersey is really quite lovely and I hike there quite often. There are quite a few bears, the gas is cheap AND they pump it for you :)
    Not only that but South Jersey has beautiful and protected farmlands and the most delicious tomatoes, corn and peaches you will ever eat in August!

  2. Nice pictures, again and glad you had less rocks to hike over. Sorry about the room with no game. I know how much you wanted to see the USA team win!! At least you got to see some of it and very nice people to buy you food and drink.
    To bad the hotel wasn't good so you could have relaxed and watched game. At least you got money back.
    I guess you know for sure not to set up camp again after dark. Good luck with resupply. Hike on. LY

  3. "We don't pump gas, we pump fists!!"
    - Jersey

  4. I ALWAYS get gas in jersey!! Best thing ever. It's 20-70 cents a gallon cheaper than PA and when it's rising you never have to get out of the car! AND it is 'against the law' to pump your own gas in jersey :) I claim both pA & NJ as my home :)

  5. "Raining" not rising lol!

  6. At least Jersey has been much better than PA and nicer people :) great bear pic, sorry you missed a great first half.

  7. Hi Yoda, 11 Bears!! That is amazing and you have been able to get so many pictures of them to. I did get to see the USA Defeat Japan and what a game it was. The Woman played a great game.
    Could I as a question about your Hammock gear...What are you using for a suspension and is it a set up with a disconnect or does it stay attached to the Hammock?

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