I learned my lesson after my last urban hang: make damn sure your hammock straps don’t get stuck in the joints of support structures. After loading down your straps with your body weight, they have a curious tendency to slip into any cracks and knocks they can find and lodge themselves in there tightly enough to give my twiggy arms a good half an hour of fighting to get them free.
Pushed on to the mountain top beach today to catch some rays and eat over priced state park food. Interestingly, there was a significant amount of Mexican food on the menu with an almost entirely Hispanic staff (slightly out of place for a state park in New Jersey?). And I’m not talking about your standard tacos and burritos. These people had street corn, mole, tamales, and lots of other things I couldn’t pronounce. What was stranger was the predominantly Anglo Saxon crowd that was there eating these various delicacies.
And here I and old man Voltron rolled up, laying out on the beach eating previously frozen hamburgers because why not. I laid out for a good while just soaking in some serious heat, not really enjoying the view of the locals. From our chat, I learned Voltron was in fact not the Pokemon I was thinking of, but rather the robot from that Japanese Anime from the 90’s or whenever it was popular.
Supposedly home to the tallest point in the state of NJ, of course I had to go check it out and see what was happening. A 220′ tower oddly resembling the tribute to Bill Clinton, it struck itself penetratingly into the sky from where I laid on the beach. I gave my farewells to my old friend and took off road blazing to go “summit” the concrete pinnacle.
Swarms of motor tourists overtook me in a race to the top of the mountain so they could partake in the same achievement (you tell me who earned it). Children poured out of minivans like a bad of dropped skittles, young moms screaming and the grandparents in tow behind, limping up to the monument. I come crawling up behind on all “fours”, drop my bag AKA the scent bomb and rush towards the doors. I should have known from the cries and tears from the children that the thing was locked. I plopped down and rolled myself a smoke and soaked in the rather flat view for a while. 2,000 something feet is nothing to get your pee rag in a wad about, but the breeze and sun were nice enough to have a rest for a bit.
Being the clever blue blazer that I am, I sought out a possibility of bypassing the long road back to the beach where I would then have to backtrack to where I left the trail (an extra 1.1 mile I didn’t want to do). From Google maps (the epicenter of all accuracy and things that are true and right in this world) point of view, it looked that there was in fact a state park trail that could intersect with the AT about half a quarter mile down from the parking lot.
Cheesing from ear to ear, I skipped on down the trail ready to get back and keep northing it. After some time, I looked at my watch and realized that I had shot way past a quarter. I pulled up ye ‘old Google Maps again, and to my dismay, not only had I started to turn west away from the trail, but had clearly missed this supposed “intersection”. I spun a sharp U, and headed back to the parking lot, fuming mad now at the possibility of, god-forbid, I have to go back to where I started out originally. But not to worry, I could still scope out this supposed intersection along the way back. I peered sharply to my left the entire way, but to no avail. Nothing revealed itself. I sagged on seeing the concrete tire stops and white and blue lines, and marched back down the road defeated. I swear I could hear the ghosts of past thru hikers in the wind, chuckling away at my demise.
Stopping at the last shelter for H2O, ran into my favorite duo Maps and Moxie while refilling, and may have talked them into coming to town. I heard there is a pavilion and park somewhere in town hikers can stop and sleep at. On hitting a road, I pulled out trusty old Google Maps (when will I ever learn from my mistakes???) to see if this road could possibly short cut me to town. Turns out it in fact did! So off I went hopping and lopping along. Voltron said he was going to stop and stay at some farmer guys old house for the night, and i saw the dirt road through the forest that would take him there.
I got to the town much quicker then I expected, just a few bends away. Turns out this city, Unionville, was a little blister poking right into NY state. So technically I crossed the border, but would have to dive back into NJ for a time to keep on trekking.
My first experience in the Empire State was a quaint, excessively quiet little country town. I trotted up into the area where the center park was, and inquired with a friendly man who was cleaning up some things around the town hall.
“Yeh you can setup camp here, no problem. Just don’t throw to much of a riot, if you’re panning on throwing any. Also you can get water from the faucet over here on the side of the building. Just make sure you go up to the grocery store and sign the log” Butch informed me.
Typical little New England style country store. Had Boar’s Head cuts, breakfast sandwiches, and loads of other crap inside. Unfortunately, they didn’t take card (and no where else in town did apparently..), but I had enough dough to buy myself a nice can of vegetarian chili and some kind of malt beverage, and cook up a mini feast on my pop stove. Turns out steamers are in fact clams.
Cat Napper rolled in and got to chat with this New Mexican for a while. Cool guy, though his name befuddles me a tad.