Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Part 2 - Sunfish Pond and Back

A giant birch tree.
Okay, where did I leave you? Oh yes, on the way to Sunfish Pond. It was very hot, very humid, and the bugs were flying into our eyes and ears. It was a bit frustrating. We passed two guys who were talking about the bugs being worse on the Appalachian Trail. They advised us to return from the pond on the same trail we were hiking due to the worsening of the bugs along the AT. We took it under advisement, and continued along the blueberry trail. I picked berries here and there, and we swatted the flying bugs and kept hiking up, up, up. 

We got to a point where we actually started to descend a bit, and then we had arrived in a very birch-filled copse of trees at the top of the Kittatinny Ridge. There was a sign that told us we were at Sunfish Pond, a 44 acre glacial pool that was created by the Wisconsin Glacier back in the last ice age. There were only the sounds of a few birds, frogs in the pond, and a little bit of wind through the tops of the trees. It was hot up there, and once we had viewed the pond, we realized it was no swimming hole. The edge along the pond was muddy and populated by frogs. 
Frog in the mud... center of the picture
Skeeters and other water bugs danced on the surface. It looked extremely shallow from where we stood, so we decided to just sit and have our lunch, and enjoy the view.

Sunfish Pond
It really is a beautiful place to stop. The reflections of the clouds upon the water were magical. The buzz of the insects (cicadas among them) were hypnotic. There was even a grassy spot to sit.

There wasn't a soul in sight, nor even the sound of voices other than our own. It made it easy to hear the sound of branches breaking and grunting sounds coming from our left... We both stopped and listened. K got out his binoculars to see if he could see what was making the noise back up the trail. I was certain that it was a wild boar or possibly a bear.
Then we also heard the sound of voices. Another couple had reached the ridge top, and came into view. I asked them what was back on the trail and they told us that about four deer were back there! K had guessed deer, but I thought deer were pretty quiet, so I had scarier animals in mind. I'm glad he was right!

Our view from the grass
After we'd eaten our sandwiches, fruit and almonds, and filled up our bellies with water, we decided to head back. A storm was supposed to be coming, and we wanted to get back before then. It was a three-hour hike (...a three hour hike...) back to the car. On the way back, I found a bracelet floating in the water and put it on...

My birch bark bracelet!
Isn't it cool? And we also saw a lone deer... she looked to be pretty young. She spotted us, but continued walking and eating at a leisurely pace. Also, I had a brilliant idea to deal with the bugs. We tied our bandanas around our heads, making sure to cover our ears, and we wore our sunglasses the whole time. It kept the bugs out, anyway! 

A young doe eating nearby.
It was a very hot, humid walk back, and both of us were feeling the ache already in our legs. The climb from the car to Sunfish Pond was four miles up from 600 feet elevation at the base to 1300 feet at the ridge. And then you have to go back down. I admit that I wasn't really in shape for this. My legs are better NOW, but over the weekend, they were sore!

There was so much beauty to see, though. I'm so glad we finally did this hike that we'd been talking about for months. It was truly gorgeous. Apparently, New Jersey does have something beautiful to offer! Just kidding! You know I love Monmouth Beach, too, in Long Branch. It's just that the reputation of New Jersey isn't the best since "Jersey Shore" first aired. Now I believe them when they say that it's the "Garden State." It's truly something to see for yourself.

One last thing before I close... check out this amazing exposed root... it's wild. There were still rocks embedded in it, and crazy plants, moss and mushrooms growing on it. I wish there were some way to lug this home and put it in my yard! (Just kidding! I'd never remove it... but it's pretty awesome, isn't it?) I hope you enjoyed your virtual hike with me and K. We are planning another trip up there in the fall, when the leaves are turning colors and the humidity is a little lower. It's going to be fabulous.


Terriaw said...

what a beautiful day! Isn't is amazing to be on a trail like that, especially with not another soul in sight? That's unusual but so great. Love love love your birch bracelet! Even tho the bugs were bad, I can imagine what a great adventure this was for the soul. I crave days like this!

shari said...

Terri, it was definitely gorgeous in those woods. I'm glad you like my birch bracelet! I also have a birch ring, but it barely fit my pinky, so I didn't show it.

Brandi said...

I love following along your walks with you, via photos! I have to confess though, I'm so out of shape, I probably couldn't keep up with you at all. Still, how gorgeous is this!

Sonja said...

This looks so pretty! You're definitley improving Jersey's reputation with your post :o). I like the bracelet! heehee, pretty darn cool! This looks like a really peaceful and gorgeous hike, so amazing that you saw the deer too!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful pictures! Sounds like a fantastic day out (apart from the bugs). Totally loving your birch bark bracelet.

Kathy said...

Wow...These are great pictures, Shari. Looks like a beautiful place. I love your "ghostly plants" best of all!

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