February 26th 2006 2:01 pm
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Dad and I just got home a few days ago from a winter hike along the Appalacian Trail. We were out for 5 lovely days. The weather was sunny for the most part although cold which is after all to be expected in February.
Sat Feb 18
We arrived at the Delaware Water Gap in New Jersey around 9 am. Skies were mostly cloudy and shortly after we began our hike light snow began to fall. Dad and I hiked to the top of Mt Tammany and a light dusting of snow covered the ground by the time we arrived at the fire road atop the mountain. The sun soon re-appeared as we hiked back the fire road atop Mt Tammany but the winds were really howling away! The combination of high winds and bright sunshine soon cleared the trail of the light snow cover. Dad and I hiked the fire road back around Sunfish Pond and then ascended to the exposed ridgetop of the Appalacian Trail. Winds were really strong up here (gusts over 35 mph) and as the afternoon wore on the temps began to drop into the low 20`s. I told Dad that I was a tad chilly, so he stopped and put on my warm velcro dog coat. Dad has a "thing" about taking pictures on our hikes and between taking pictures and putting on my dog coat, he managed to freeze his hands up. "Dang Smiley, my hands are so frozen I can hardly get these gloves back on!" This paraphrases Dad`s sentiments--in the interest of a wholesome diary entry,I can`t report his exact words! We hurried down a side trail as evening came on in order to pitch our tent out of the wind. It went down to 8 degrees ( Farenheit) tonite but Dad`s mountain tent kept both of us snug and warm. The skies were pitch black in the clear cold weather and Dad could actually see rays of starlight! He said it reminded him of the line in the John Denver song ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH that goes " The shadow from the starlight is softer than a lullaby".
Sun Feb 19
The winds died down overnight and today was a sunny but cold day of hiking the Appalacian Trail. As Dad and I hiked towards the Millbrook-Blairstown road we were rewarded with sweeping views of farms in the valley below us as well as a few lakes. Late in the afternoon, Dad and I hiked past partially frozen Long Pine Pond where we glimpsed ice flows on its surface. We camped tonight in a heavily wooded area located in a valley just south of Rattlesnake Mt. There was a pleasant gurgling stream nearby and it was soothing to hear it from inside our tent throughout the night!
Mon Feb 20
Another sunny day, brisk and cold as we ascended Rattlesnake Mt and pressed on north along the Appalacian Trail. Views atop Rattlesnake were superb and we could see a swamp off in the distance. The best views of the day, however came from atop the bald area on Blue Mt. The Appalacian Trail passes through an open grassy area here and there are 360 degree views of the valley! The last photo in my dogster photos shows me in this area.
We rested a bit at the Brink trail shelter--a small wooden hut at the base of Blue Mt then looped back along an old woods road that parallels the Appalacian Trail. Dad and I soon came to the Buttermilk Falls trail and we descended it all the way to the falls . As we were hiking down this trail, I met another golden retriever who was day hiking with his family. We exchanged sniffs then proceeded on. He was the first cainine hiker I encountered on this trip. Buttermilk Falls is about 70 feet high and it was partially frozen. Huge icecicles were present here! Dad took a few photos before we hiked onward along an old woods road. Darkness came on and we camped in dense secluded woods near the Flatbrook stream.
Tues Feb 21
Today, we hiked a series of woods roads that ultimately led us out to Old Mine Road which parallels the Delaware River. Just before reaching the coppermines hiking area, we came upon the Poxono boat ramp. The Delaware river was partially frozen in this area and Dad got some photos of me standing out on the river ice. To be honest, I was a bit nervous out on the ice, but trusted that Dad wouldn`t put me in harms way! If possible, Dad plans on returning to this spot in the summer as he thinks it would be interesting to swim out to Poxono Island!
We camped for night 4 in a windy,grassy area along the Appalacian Trail near Raccoon Ridge. Once again, the stars shone magnificently here in the dark, cold sky.
Wed Feb 22
We finished up our hike today, passing frozen Sunfish Pond. The ice was thin in the center of this glacial lake, so Dad took pictures of us close to the shore on the firmer ice. The bright sunshine,cold brisk air, stunning views,and peaceful night campsites made for a memorable winter camping experience!
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