So today marks FOUR YEARS of this ridiculous blog. I’ll type that again for dramatic effect- FOUR YEARS.
Four is an important number for this blog, because, when I started, I figured that was about top end estimate for how many people would ever look that this
big, dumb prestigious project of mine (and that was counting on my mother being able to find it on the Internet to see cute pictures of her grandson). But my, oh, my, how we’ve grown up. In the past four years, nearly EIGHT PEOPLE have read this blog.
Okay, it’s a few more than that, and sometimes I worry about you folks because of that. But thanks just the same for coming along for the ride.
In celebration, I highlight an area I’ve been blessed enough to spend the last 24 years exploring – the Pine Barrens. Sure, the pine barrens aren’t as sexy as some natural areas in North Jersey. You won’t find many clear flowing rivers (just iced tea colored), mama bears followed by lines of cubs, or breathtaking vistas.
Instead, it’s hundreds of square miles of pine trees, the more subtle beauty of a pitch pine, the reclaimed cranberry bog, the carnivorous plant, the nearly forgotten ruins of a once prosperous town. It’s the wild flowers at Friendship, the collapsing packing house at Whitesbog, the abandoned tracks of the Central Railroad of New Jersey, and the sweeping views from Apple Pie Hill. It’s the cedar water of the Wading River, the iron slag along the trail at Martha, the cedar swamps at Wells Mills (oh, how I love cedar swamps), and the pine snakes by Bricksbrae. It’s hearing coyotes howling while camping at Bodine, a dip in the river while backpacking through Lower Forge, watching the American Legion Post carry Emilio Carranza’s body from the woods yet another July day, the beautiful stars in winter above Goshen Pond, looking at the raccoon prints in the fireplace bricks at Buzbys General Store, or the peeping of the frogs in the Spring.
If you haven’t spent time here, or haven’t spent enough time here, or simply are looking for some places you haven’t explored, I’m offering a series of three posts on the pines, starting with
ten fourteen trails to get you started (it was really hard to narrow them down)…
I have, of course, ranked them (for fighting with each other on the Internet’s sake), cutting down a list of 46 hikes I’ve done out in Jersey Devil country, but these are all winners!