Environmentalism · Health

Touching the Button

I “hike” 3-4 times a week with Stella. We usually wander through Hartsorne Woods or Huber Woods. It’s nice to be on the trails in the woods, meandering up and down little hills, watching the chipmunks scamper around. H&H Woods are both within 4 miles of our home, making them extra convenient.  I’ll be honest though, wandering through the wooded parks of Monmouth County, NJ is a little like walking in circles, blindfolded, around the base of Coon Mountain.

Whiteface Summit

Coon Mountain is not one of the 46 Adirondack Peaks, which means it doesn’t have a geodetic survey marker. Every time I hike one of the 46 ADK peaks, finding the marker and touching it with my hand is like icing on the cake. When you get to the top of the mountain and touch that little button you know you’ve accomplished something.

Coon Mountain is only a mile to the summit and while there is no surveyor button to touch in triumph, you are rewarded with an amazing view of Vermont, the Adirondack Coast and the High Peaks.  I adore Coon Mountain. It’s the hike you want to do when you don’t have it in  you to go 4000 feet.  Aside from it being in my home town, the thing I love so much about Coon Mountain is the view. When you get to the top, you actually feel like you accomplished something, you can stand on its little bald summit and still feel like you’re Queen of the World.

I have yet to find anything in Jersey that makes me feel like I am Queen of the World.  Hiking here just seems to be so anti-climactic. There’s no button to touch and thus far I haven’t found a peak or a summit anywhere. I remember when I was in law school (in Delaware) my professor, Jim May told the story of the first time he drove into NJ. It was night, he was driving on 95 from the GWB and he saw what he thought were the “hills of NJ.” Only they weren’t hills. Well, not natural ones anyway.

I don’t mean to harsh on NJ. If I hated it, I wouldn’t live here. But sometimes, and by sometimes I mean daily, this Adirondack Mountain Girl longs for the mountains…or at least something that resembles a mountain.

Last week I posed a question to my Facebook friends… ok Jersey. Tell me where I can go for a good hike. I am willing to drive an hour + to find something that resembles a peak. HELP!  I received tons of replies including Highpoint State Park, Bear Mountain, Garret Mountain, Harriman State Park and Worthington State Park.  We settled on Worthington State Park because I’ve driven through the Delaware Water Gap many times, it’s so pretty. I presumed there would be some great vistas and I would have a sense of accomplishment even though there was no button to touch.

We settled on a hike up Mt. Tammany, a 3 mile hike (round trip) to the top of an actual Mountain! We got to Worthington State Park (about a 90 minute drive from the Shore) and it was jam packed with hikers and tourists. In the chaos of the people, we accidentally started up the wrong trail head. I knew we were supposed to follow the red dot trail markers, but all I saw were white dot trail markers. I figured there would be a trail split somewhere along the path. Little did I know the red dot Mount Tammany trail was on the opposite side of the parking lot.

Sunfish Lake, Worthington State Park

We followed the white dot trail, (a portion of the Appalachian Trail) makers for almost 4 miles. The Hubs wanted to turn around numerous times, knowing it was the wrong trail and we were embarking on more of a hike than he bargained for, but I’m obsessive about trails and hiking. I need to reach my destination. Turning around to me is too much like failure! After coming upon a beautiful meadow and AT camping site we finally reached the trails destination, Sunfish Lake. It was absolutely beautiful, (yet totally unfulfilling as far as summits, peaks and surveyor buttons are concerned).  We had 2 options to get back to the parking lot; back down the white dot trail or the green dot trail. A gentleman we met along the way told us the green trail followed a little river back down through the valley. So that’s the one we settled on.

Hubs and Miss Stella

The hike “down” was a bit more challenging than the hike “up.” It was riddled with small rocks that kept making themselves known through the soles of my shoes. And there were no less than 4 stream crossings. I love hopping rocks across streams, but it’s a new scary challenge for a 5 month old great dane!

In the end we hiked about 7 miles through Worthington State Park. It was beautiful but the Adirondack Girl in me was still left unfulfilled. There was no peak, no summit, no beautiful vista to look out over and feel like Queen of the World.  Dare I say it’s like sex without the orgasm? Fun enough, but just not WOW.

The Hubs wasn’t happy with me for my trail choices so I had to appease him with grilled, processed meat.  We went to Hot Dog Johnny’s post hike (he fell off the Vegan Challenge wagon after day 5).  I ate french fries (a total nutritional failure) and Stella slept in the car.

Next weekend (if I make it through Rebel Race tomorrow) we’re going to head back and actually hike the Mount Tammany trail. It will be nice to see what sort of vistas Jersey actually has to offer.

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