New Mosquito-Jersey doesn’t quite have the same ring to it that Rocksylvania does. Two days in and I’ve more mosquito bites in this state than the entire trip combined. Don’t get me wrong, there are some breathtaking lakes here. There are also a lot of bogs with standing water that breed these nuisances like hot cakes.
I woke up to Rabbit saying “He’s walking here,” the North Eastern accent we’ve been using since Tennessee. It was 7:30 and I was just waking. I ate breakfast inside my tent for obvious reasons (refer back to title). I started hiking before 9.
New Jersey terrain has been forgiving. Undulating ups and downs but nothing prolonged or too steep. Water sources have been fairly reasonably spaced out and there’s been daily places to stop and get actual sit-down food to eat.
I passed by a lake that I’m kicking myself for not stopping and taking a dip in. Crater Lake and Hemlock lake were short side trails off the AT. I felt behind everyone else already to start the day which led to my hesitation. In order to not lose more ground, I pressed on skipping the lake (crying face emoticon).
13 miles in I came to Culver’s Gap near Kittatinny Lake. I found some trail magic of chips and Dr Pepper at this gap and helped myself to one of each. I stopped at the Mountain House Tavern and Grill for more food and drink. The whole bubble had the same idea as most of them were already there when I arrived. The food was good but the view of the lake was even better.
I spent a few hours there crushing fountain sodas and slowly eating my quesadilla. It was a hot day out, nearly touching 90 degrees. We hung out in the AC until close to 5:30PM. At the direction of Hector the 8-ball, (it was decidedly so) we had to get back to hiking. After getting back on trail the plan was to hike to a shelter 9 more miles out. To accomplish this some night hiking would be in order.
There were two more shelters after this. One just a mile up, the other 7 miles up. Which did I stay? Neither. I pressed on passed the first, but before the second I came to Sunrise Mountain. It’s along a peak and I stopped to watch the sunset (they let you do that too despite the name).
I decided this peak would make a better place to camp with it’s gentle breeze than at a shelter near a mosquito ridden bog. Technically you’re supposed to stay at designated camping sites in NJ. But the sunset and ideal location to catch sunrise, had me in a mood to break a stupid rule.
A location like this is also unlikely to be frequented by bears (apparently also a big deal here). Any food smells will fly indiscriminately away from the hilltop location. But I guess I’ll find that one out too by the time the sun comes up.
Until then, stow away in my pack for day 105 of the Appalachian Trail.
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