Thursday, September 16, 2010

New Adventures

    When I woke at the motel, it was 46 degrees outside.  Pretty cool for the shorts and short sleeve shirt I had on.  At this point in the trip, I am ready to start expanding the breadth of my adventures.  I’ve been to parks galore, hiked all over, been to two major cities and seen museum after museum after museum.  I’m ready for something new.
       I headed out and fueled up at one of a string of full service gas stations (I wondered if it was a Northeast thing or a New Jersey thing) and had lunch at Turkey Brook Park where the sanitation man told me not to make a mess before I started eating.  Guess I look like one of those types. 
       It was a gorgeous day.  Blue skies, seventy or so out.  There were some power sockets near a picnic table, so I pulled out my laptop and blogged.  I only mention it (and probably won’t again otherwise I’ll be blogging about blogging about blogging about blogging) because I got some weird looks from families who must be saying to themselves, “Look at that crazed workaholic.  Comes to the park on this beautiful Sunday and pecks away at his laptop the whole time.”  I wish I could respond, “No, you don’t understand - this is my office.”
       I saw a place on my atlas called Waterloo Village nearby, so decided to check it out.  It was closed, but on the way I passed a large group of cars parked on the edge of some thick woods which is a telltale sign of a hiking trail.  I parked near the cluster of cars and threw my small day hiking pack over my shoulder.  A few yards into the woods I got to a board that had a bunch of mountain climbing warning signs on it.  I glanced at the map there and kept walking until I got to a huge rock face about fifty yards in.  There were a bunch of small packs on the ground, so I dropped mine and went around the base of the mountain to see if I could find an area I could climb up.  I found one and climbed about twenty or so feet high.  I figured there had to be a way I could get higher (that’s the thing about climbing really – it’s an addiction and all you want to do is get higher).  I walked around to the other side of the rock face and found a series of small boulders up a slope that was shallow enough I could probably climb it. 
       I started climbing before my mind had enough chance to really evaluate the situation (sorry Mom).  I wanted more adventure and here it was, so I went.  It really wasn’t that bad.  I got to the same elevation as the large rock face and walked around some, trying to find other climbers (partially to show I had gotten to where they were without any climbing gear, which in hindsight wasn’t that great of feat).  When I didn’t find anyone, I climbed up a shallow wooded slope to see if there were any more boulders to climb.  I ran into a trail that ran around the circumference of the mountain.  I started hiking it and came to a couple of very nice overlooks over a river and some mountains.  I walked down the trail some and turned around when I ran into a group of people who definitely weren’t climbers (they had started from a parking lot somewhere and had taken the “normal way” hikers get to the overlooks).  I couldn’t find/forgot where I got on the trail, so I guessed and ran into a different way to get down than I came up.  I used a sort of squat and slide method some of the time.  I was mostly in control of my movements.

     At the bottom, I passed a few hikers.  One guy asked if I was a climber.  I was walking around the base of the rock face in my glasses and no hiking gear, so I guess I looked like I either really knew what I was doing or…something else.  I said no and that I was just experimenting with bouldering.  His wife and infant kid were with him.
    This experience was just what I wanted.  An exhilarating new type of adventure that was totally unplanned.  The overlooks were just an added bonus.  I read the signs more carefully on the way back.  Apparently I was supposed to fill out some kind of ‘sign my life away’ form.  Whoops.  The mountain (Stephen’s and Allamuchy Mountain) was 1100 feet at its tallest and the road was at about 700 feet.
    I was planning to visit a local café, but figured I should call a local state park first to make sure there’d be room for me when I slipped in after closing like usual.  The first one I called was full.  Then I realized it was the Sunday of Labor Day weekend.  I guess that knowledge was in the back of my mind, but it hadn’t really registered how it would affect me until now.  I called about five of them including two private ones, but everyone was booked up.  Finally, I called one way off the main highway and they had one spot because a couple had left at two.
    The private campground was full of RVs and screaming kids running around a swimming pool.  Luckily, I managed to get a somewhat secluded spot on a ridge where I cooked grilled cheese and tomato soup.  Definitely enjoying cooking my own food and always having cold milk on hand.  I went to sleep thinking about doing an overnight kayak trip in the near future.


Anonymous said...

I know that time is relative and easy to lose track of, but I think it may actually have been Labor Day, rather than Memorial Day.

Mr. M

Anonymous said...

Those families at Turkey Brook Park probably rather were saying to themselves: “Look at that crazed internet addict. Comes to the park on this beautiful Sunday and can't do nothing but blog, twitter or facebook.” :-P

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