New Jersey Appalachian Trail - High Point State Park to NJ Hwy 94- September 2004
Trip Theme: Mosquitoes! or "The Worst Trip Ever"
3 of us with the Wilmington Trail Club did this as a 2 day, 20 mile shuttle over the weekend of September 11th. This trip started out pleasant enough. The weather was suppose to be very nice over the weekend and it started out well. I was having a little trouble getting into it at first, mostly I think from the Kili trip still being fresh in my mind, but I came around after awhile. The knee that I had twisted on Kili was bothering me after I tweaked it at the gym on Friday. This made any downhill portion unpleasant at best, but not enough to where I couldn't deal with it.
So we are strolling along midway through the first day when we come across this guy wearing a bug net over his head. I asked him what the deal was, as we hadn't really seen any bugs at all, and he indicated that he couldn't take the bugs anymore and wished us luck. This seemed really strange until about 15 minutes later when the mosquitoes hit us like a ton of bricks. There was no way to escape them. Usually if you walk you are safe and its only if you stop that they get you. Not this time. They were swarming us with unbelievable ferocity. At one point we are walking through a field with standing water on either side of the trail, and I literally was running to get away from them and still couldn't really manage. We stopped to fill up water at the back of a house (a sign said it was OK!) and I was getting hit so hard that it was all I could do to stand still long enough to transfer water from my bottle to the bladder. By the time we got to camp I was swollen with welts all over my arms, legs and neck. I was hoping that the bugs would be less at camp but this was not to be the case. They swarmed us even worse at camp as they seemed to be attracted to the warmth of the stoves. I pitched my tent, ate dinner, and called it a night at 6:30 to escape the bugs. Inside the tent was like an oasis in the desert. I read a book, which turned out to be good, that I found in the shelter and enjoyed the evening for several hours.
Anthony had a tent as well, but Tim did not. He experimented with a head net and staying in his sleeping bag. The verdict? Not good. Barely first light came and Tim wakes me up indicating that the mosquitoes aren't bad yet and that we should try and get on the road. I get out of my tent and the swarm instantly hits me. I think I've been tricked. Nevertheless I have packed, eaten and ready to hit the road in record time while swatting bugs away. We break camp at 6:50AM and race for the cars. The bugs lessened somewhat when we got to the boardwalk at the beginning of the swamp. Our assumption is that they must spray this area. The only real difference though was that you could now avoid the swarm while walking, but they still nailed you when you stopped. I was hauling the mail and we got back to the cars a little after 9AM in record time. Afterwards we enjoyed a nice breakfast in a local diner.
This section is nothing exciting in the first place, but the mosquitoes made it less than enjoyable. We teased Tim that this was the worst trip ever. That may be an exaggeration but it certainly wasn't the best trip ever either. I have never experienced worse mosquitoes on the trail in my entire life. In fact, I haven't seen mosquitoes that bad since Montana. All in all I'd say the only truly pleasant part of the trip was the company. See you guys in December!
|Mark, Anthony and Tim at High Point State Park||High Point Monument|
|View out into Jersey||Mark with Monument|
|Anthony and Tim cross some stairs||We crossed through some nice fields|
|The picture is out of focus because I couldn't hold the camera steady long enough with hundreds of mosquitoes biting me. Pochuck Shelter||Low clouds in the valley|
|Quite a nice boardwalk through the swamp||Bridge over the river in the swamp|
|Tim crosses the last hurdle||Anthony sees the cars on Hwy 94|
|Anthony, Mark and Tim at the end|
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