More Than A Walk Than In The Woods
I took a walk in the woods last week. My son and I hiked a 28-mile section of the Appalachian Trail in the vicinity of Wawayanda State Park in New Jersey near the New York State line.[i] We slept under the stars, with bats demonstrating their acrobatic skills while devouring bugs that bite hikers mercilessly, on two separate nights on rock ledges on top of Wawayanda Mountain the first night and Hamburg Mountain the second night overlooking two different gorgeous views of the valleys below. We saw deer, geese, bats, one snake, monarch butterflies and the Milky Way. Although we were hiking in the same area where a bear attacked a hiker sleeping in an AT shelter, we did not see any bears. Our strategy was simply to not sleep where we eat and avoid shelters where bears frequent in search of food.
We hiked sixty miles on the AT last year on two separate trips from the Mason Dixon line to Route 30 and from Route 30 to just south of Boiling Springs PA. I was pleasantly surprised when my 21 year son suggested that we go again this year but to another state with fewer rocks. I can say that when people call New Jersey the Garden State, they are not referring to the rough rocky terrain of the AT in New Jersey. The elevation gains and losses still wrecked havoc on our knees. Next year, we may use hiking poles to take the pressure off our knees.
However, the protected wild lands of the AT are certainly quiet and peaceful. It is, as Benton MacKaye said, an escape from “the high-powered tension of the economic scramble.” I can actually live on the AT without coffee. I can’t wait to go hiking again on the AT in search of the elusive shelter with hot water showers.
[i] The AT is a 2100-mile mountain hiking trail, maintained by volunteers, along the crests of the Appalachian Mountains in the eastern United States. It was designated a national scenic trail park in 1968.