High Point to NJ 284 

It’s not my usual M.O. to start this way. 

It’s rare when I have a realization that has a sinking sensation associated with it. Mostly, I am up beat, optimistic. This photo was taken at the exact spot where I realized that I may never finish the Trail. No way I will ever finish was my actual thought. 

The 10 miles I was covering yesterday, was really tough. Slippery and slushy really compounds the effort needed. I decided to not camp, so my pack was light, thank the gods. 

My head went to numbers. 

I will hike mostly in the winter. I’m not dealing with the chance of Lyme Disease again. I’m not. So, 10 miles a day is a reasonable speed. My winter gear is heavier and the conditions can be treacherous. Like yesterday. 

At 10 miles a day, with just under 2000 miles to go, it will take, oh my, about 200 days! I multiplied the numbers yesterday, and I came up with 20,000 days!  Huh? I can’t believe it. Of course I can hike 200 days! 

Wow. The mind plays tricks. 

Yesterday, trying to cheer me up, my friend Linda, reminded me that I would have flown through a day like this in good weather. It was nearly flat! Dry boards would have been fun, not anxiety causing like they were, loaded with snow and ice. She was right. I couldn’t think that way yesterday. 

Looks like the theme of this post has changed. What I really said in my head was, I’ll never finish this f%#ing Trail, and was wondering what would happen when I delivered profanity in a post. Cursed. I am comfortable swearing when I’m excited. High emotion of any sort makes me want to say fuck. There, I wrote it, the ice is broken. No turning back now. 

Let’s start over, shall we?

This is my favorite of the High Point photos. I took a bunch. I couldn’t stop shooting for the first hour! Ice and snow stuck to the trees and bushes. So beautiful. Here are a few more:

This is the observation tower at HPSP. I probably should not have gone up the two flights of ice covered steps and railings. That was the first risk I took. There were more. 

The High Point Monument is not only a memorial to NJ veterans, it sits on the highest elevation in the state. Construction was started in 1928 and finished in 1930. It stands 220 feet high. It resembles the Washington Monument and looks huge when you stand next to it, even though it’s not half the size. 

I really should carry a selfie stick. It’s just that the night before any hike I get rid of any non essentials that I’ve packed. Maybe next time. I just wanted you to see the Winter Wonderland I was in. 

I followed this very cute track for quite some time. Whatever it was had legs so short that it’s feet marked the snow between each step. There are tons of animals out there. The tracks are everywhere. Fox and Coyotes I often see. 

Pretty sure it was wild turkeys that were digging all over this area. Bugs or nuts? The only tracks were from a big bird. 

That’s my cool new bottle clip! It’s supposed to be on a belt loop but it’s perfect from my shoulder strap! That shock cord at the bottom is to attach my trekking poles. I rarely stop using them and it’s perfect to secure the bottle. I can’t reach the bottles in my pack without taking it off. This way I can drink and keep moving. 

That is the trick, you know. Don’t stop moving. You can cover quite a distance it you just keep walking. 

There are places that just say, “stop here” to me. 

Those are my feet. Honest. 

Those, too. These boards were treacherous. My feet slipped out to the side many times. The water and mud would have gone up to my knees in some places! There was about an hour of these. I considered crawling. They were risk number 2. 

There was more wetland than in any previous section. I really would have flown through here on a dry day. I would have loved it. There was “give” in the steps between the supports. The bending of the boards loosened the ice. Not fun. 

This was my first climb over a fence thing! Also covered with ice. The fence was gone and a path went around it. I went over. Purest I am. Stay on the trail I must. (Yoda I did bring) Risk number 3. 

White Birch trees I love. They feel sacred in the woods, like albinos. 

Some more pasture and a railroad bed and I was finished. Legs dead. The most dead ever maybe. 

My car through the woods was a welcome sight. It’s hard to spot. The rain had started. 

In 1996, when I was directing HS theater, I told the kids in a circle holding hands before each show, that I had the Force. I would squeeze one of the hands in my right or left hand, and they would send the Force around the circle. Each squeezing in turn. It was our pre-performance ritual. They used to call me “Luke.” One of them, I think Brian Prisco, gave me a little Yoda he got as a prize at Taco Bell. 1996. 

When I went on my very first serious hike, from the Dunnfield parking lot to Sunfish Pond and back the Dunnfield Creek path, I took a bunch of photos with that Yoda included. He’s there on the Douglas Trail sign at the top of my blog. 

I set him down in a perfectly, perfect spot by Dunnfield Creek, and took a photo, put my phone away and walked off without him. I was at least a mile down the creek when I remembered. Crushed I was. I tried to feel better by thinking that someone would find him a give him a good home. I reported in the Section Hikers page on FB what happened. Nothing. He was gone. 

I was going to bring him along on all my hikes! One hike I did. Remembered to pick him up I did not. 

I was really upset. We’re talking about a Yoda I had kept for 20 years! 2 moves across the Atlantic. 2 marriages. At least 7 residences. One psych ward. 2 operations. 20 years of sobriety and I never lost him. One hike…gone. 

Well, I found one on Ebay from Taco Bell in 1996, still in it’s wrapper! 

Forgot I had him until I was putting my pack in the back of the Rav. Next time he’ll have more fun. 

I found two more. Just in case. 

I’m back today. Sore legs but back. I will finish the Appalachian Trail. Just not today. 

Couldn’t find a hamburger and a milkshake and I was really hungry. Ham and cheese and a coke finished off the day. 

(And from Birthday Girl’s blog idea)

What I learned? 

I learned that I can really believe that I can’t do something, and the next day I can. 

4 thoughts on “High Point to NJ 284 

  1. Great report and love the pictures. Sorry to ask a dumb question but how do you get to your car assuming you cover 10 miles? Sorry if you answered already.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are people all along the trail that will shuttle you just about anywhere. I use a guy named George who has hiked the trail some years ago and has shuttled people from the Water Gap to Connecticut for 20 years now. He just asks for a donation. Very cool guy.


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