Today was scheduled to be another hot day, and so in keeping with our plan of taking a break from the midday heat, we planned on stopping at High Point State Park when we reached there after lunch. It's a really pretty lake located at the highest point in New Jersey, and according to the AT Guide, it boasted a concession stand and showers! What more could we ask for???
We started hiking about 7:00. We had slept with the fly on last night due to a chance of rain, and slept a little warm. The morning was nice and cool, however, and it took a while before it warmed up. But once the sun got above the trees, it got hot fast.
We stopped first at a really nice pavilion on top of Sunrise Mountain to take in the views. There were some teenagers up there, and when I asked them if they had spent the night there, they admitted they had not been to bed yet. They had just been hanging out together all night.
We hiked on and found the trail rocky again, and hiked through some areas with what I would call bogs or swamps The mosquitoes were fierce. Usually they don't bother us while we are hiking, but these were aggressive, and we finally stopped and applied bug spray. Of course, there's nothing quite like the feeling of being greasy and dirty, topped by a layer of sweat, and then adding a layer of bug spray over that! Ewww!
The whole lake idea was sounding more and more attractive!
We reached a shelter, and a wonderful human being named Snore had made it his mission to deliver 8 gallons of water to that shelter every Wednesday. We had met him at Gyp's yesterday, and he had given us apples , offered a ride to resupply, and told us about the water. Really sweet guy. We really needed the water at this point, as do most hikers who reach here. There's just not much good water available. Much of it that you see on the trail is stagnant.
From the shelter, we only had 5.5 miles to reach the lake at High Point State Park, but it seemed like we were crawling. The heat just zapped our energy. At one point, I found the guys sitting right in the middle of the trail taking a break. That's not normally something they would do. I ALWAYS want to do it, but they always insist on waiting for a good spot - a campsite, log to sit on, or large rocks to sit on. They normally have stricter requirements than I do when it comes time for a break.
We met a man and his wife birdwatching. He was a retired NYC fireman who had been on duty during 9/11. They were fun to visit with. He had a great sense of humor and that awesome NYC accent. They had a lot of questions about the trip we were on.
We reached the Park Headquarters and met a nice Ridgerunner named Grasshopper. He talked just like Jimmy Stewart. He had done his thru-hike last year, and had actually gotten lost and took a bad fall on the Lehigh Gap climb - the climb that was so scary to us He told us that thru-hikers got a free cold drink and free admission to swim at the lake. Sweet! The Ranger told us they had cold Pepsi's, but that the Cokes were not cold yet. I told her I'd gladly take a warm Coke over a cold Pepsi. Lucky for me, she had some ice, so I grabbed my camp mug, and she set me up with a cold Coke after all. We sat there in the old rock lodge, which was a very cool building and had a nice visit with Grasshopper.
We hiked on another mile and finally reached the lake and saw the most people we've seen in one place in a very long time. We wasted no time ordering cheeseburgers, hotdogs, fries, Cokes, ice cream, and shilpaspappas, which was actually sautéed hot dogs which were sliced in such a way that when they cooked, they curled up like little octopuses. They were served over a bed of french fries, and they were awesome!!
We swam, showered and basically lazed around for several hours. I even laid down in the grass in the shade, and simply did not move for a good half-hour. What a treat! A front blew through and cooled it off nicely and there was just the perfect cool breeze the whole time we were there.
Across the lake was a stone observation tower on top of a mountain, and that was the highest point in New Jersey. We had some nice visits with folks who were interested in the AT and our trip. In particular, we enjoyed talking to Debbie, who is about to have knee replacement surgery, and hopes to be able to be more active after that. Debbie, if you read this, we are keeping you in our prayers!
After our nice break, we ate again, packed up, and hiked another mile to a really pretty campsite and are camped right above a gurgling stream - great background noise for the night. We didn't have to hang a bear bag because the shelter nearby has a big metal locker provided for that purpose.
(I wasn't able to get some pictures to transfer yesterday, so if you get a chance, go back and look at the photos I added to yesterday's post).
- Steady and F100