New Jersey (July 2)
Plus, Mom and Dad visited me and slack-packed me for a couple days. I was able to just bound along the trail, free as a bird, without my pack. What a relief. Both days Mom and Dad started hiking towards me from my destination, and then we met and walked the last few miles together.
We all camped together at a campground last night. I couldn’t get over how big our family tent was, even though I never thought anything of it before. It’s because my hiking tent is tiny in comparison. We slept in until Mom sat up and said, “We have to get up!” She was ready to go because she doesn’t sleep as well when we camp. After a while we drove to the trail so they could drop me off and meet me later, but we really just spent a long time standing together and talking. We had a lot to catch up on again.
Finally I got started on the long journey- 17 miles. I hiked a couple miles, then came to a parking area with a picnic table. An older man stood watching something at the picnic table. He told me a black bear kept approaching the table. Sure enough, when I hiked further up the trail towards the table, I could see the bear. As soon as he saw me, he backed away. The man and I investigated the table and saw old pasta scattered everywhere and some other litter, a couple bottles. I put the bottles in my light pack and moved on. When I told Mom and Dad about it later, they said that might have been a bad move. The bear seemed pretty skittish though, and unlikely to attack me and the bottles. Anyway, I hiked on further and met a thru hiker who was carrying a bag of trash along with him- from that picnic table. He had come across the bear scene too. I was really impressed because he was wearing his heavy pack, yet still hiking miles with this trash bag in hand. Just goes to show that some people do try to respect the trail and keep it clean.
Later in the afternoon I hiked up to a rocky ridge and watched rain falling down to the earth from far away. It was so beautiful, just this big mass of dark blue clouds with a small vertical strip of rain falling down on one small area. The earth where it fell just shrouded in mist. Then the sunlight catching the mist and illuminating it. Then me feeling raindrops falling on my mountain- I guess the storm was bigger than I thought! It might be the kind of thing you would have to see for yourself, but it really felt neat to be watching this storm from so far away. Whenever I’m in the middle of a rainstorm, it’s easy to forget that it’s often just a passing shower, falling in a small area.
So this was basically my experience in New Jersey. Family time, bear sighting, restored faith in humanity and beautiful scenery.
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