Under the Boardwalk

St. Thomas Episcopal Church Hostel, Vernon, N.J., AT NOBO mile 1,352.9, Monday May 12, 2014 — New Jersey is famous for its boardwalks “down by the sea,” but it’s the ones in the mud I’m lovin’ at the moment.

This little corner of New Jersey is full of wildlife refuges and associated wetlands. The really good news is that they are accessible to foot traffic.

Hiking the AT is often a journey of discovery and serendipity. Yesterday we discovered Jim Murray’s farm quite by accident. His farm is one of the most soothing places I’ve been on this hike.

Today it was a series of boardwalk highways through wetlands (swamps) most people would never think of investigating. The number of red wing black birds was fascinating. Who knows what we’ll trip upon tomorrow.

We’re at a generous church hostel 2 1/2 miles off the trail. Fortunately a trail angel gifted us a free ride to the tiny village of Vernon. We resupplied at the A&P and pigged out at the pizza place. We’re good to go.

The walk today was cross compartment from west to east as we close our stay in NJ. We’re on a steady descent to the lowest point on the AT – 218 ft. at the Bear Mountain Zoo. After that, it’s all up hill.

Though we were walking over ridges, many of them appeared to be glacial moraines judging by their composition. We also saw our first granite.

The weather is warming rapidly and the vegetation and insect life are responding accordingly. We’re all bouncing our spring gear northward to Hanover, NH soon. Hanover is the gateway to the White and Presidential ranges – real mountains with real weather. Meanwhile shirtsleeves are a novelty.

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