Archive for the ‘trails’ Category
NJ WILD readers know that it is my practice, –even my life–, to drive to natural havens, especially in New Jersey and nearby Pennsylvania. There I restore soul and muse at nature’s fonts.
You may have wondered at my long visual silence here. I haven’t known how to write about the depredations of Sandy, about this anthropocentric chaos we humans are increasingly calling forth, with such heedlessness.
Today, a series of Sandy Damage Images literally flooded me, as I tried to eat lunch, in a place where business was happening all around me. Sandy, –as was his/her recent way with us–, intruded, dominated.
This could be termed a prose poem. Whatever it is, I am haunted, yes INUNDATED, by Sandy Souvenirs. And I’m not even addressing what it did to birds and bird habitat. This is Sandy’s impact upon a birder, this birder.
WHAT is its impact upon YOU?
“ENDURING ABSENCES” - SANDY SOUVENIRS
nests of yellow disaster tape, tangled at crossroads
tree roots dwarfing buildings
macadam bike trails cracked, sea-braided
heavy-duty doors ripped from industrial-strength hinges, –wildly flung
sand swirls like blizzard aftermaths
boardwalks to nowhere
red fire hydrant top only emerging from tall swathes of deep sand
cars where boats belong
boats where cars belong
refuge pick-up trucks upside-down in new water
red Xs on former birding sites on Audubon hot line lists — enduring absences
trees throughout Pleasant Valley more horizontal than vertical, — snow-exaggerated
ghost of a clam shack at old Leed’s Point
sea-grass from the wrack line high in Scott’s Landing woods
Brigantine’s dike road severed
salinities in freshwater-, in Brigantine’s brackish, impoundments equaling bay
palisades of orange cones
‘NO VEHICLES BEYOND THIS POINT”
trail sign flat across a Bowman’s path, — posts upended, concrete dislodged
trail itself a rushing stream that may never yet be staunched
echoes of ironic names:
where are the havens?
Rainbow Before Sandy, The Berkshires cfe
NJ WILD readers know, at October’s wild end, I was led to the Berkshires, in Western Massachusetts. i was only to stay two days. My purpose was to hike in wooded hills and re-experience the finest arts at the Clark Institute, the Williams College Museum and Bennington’s, As complex 2012 wound down, mountains, art and limitless vistas had become more essential than usual.
Sandy had other ideas.
Green Mountain Trees Await Sandy cfe
My brief mountain getaway stretched to more than a week, with no heat or water in this Princeton dwelling, and major trees down along routes I needed in order to return home.
Long-time friends from corporate America laughed in unison when I referred to myself as a refugee. But what else are you when you can’t go home?
The mountains had many messages for me, which I assiduously reported in my journal.
Sandy Approaches Williamstown cfe
Above all, ‘Sandy’ is far too trivial a name for a natural event of that magnitude. Even though this Storm King lived up to its moniker, burying Jersey Shore cars well inland in sand like blizzard drifts.
Though cradled in the Green, the Berkshires, the Catskills and in the shadow of Mt. Greylock, this Jerseyan was haunted by a Shore town’s name, “Sea Girt.” Girdled by the sea. I do not know the fate of that oceanside haven, but it probably is not good. The truth is, we could change the name of New Jersey to Sea Girt.
NJ WILD readers have ‘heard’ me all these years, insisting, “It’s not Mother Nature, Folks. It’s US!” This has now been demonstrated to the entire world, irrevocably, inescapably. On the heels of a political campaign in which catastrophic climate change and environmental perils, let alone carbon footprints played no role.
Are we facing the truth now? Or are we all caught up in REBUILD and THE NEW NORMAL?
What ‘Sandy’ revealed was the fate of all our coasts.
What Sandy scrawled was the signature of sea-level rise.
Vanishing glaciers mean more water in oceans, which means more ‘fuel’ for storms whether rain, snow or wind.
Where I Read Storm News, Williamstown: The Chef’s Hat cfe
In the mountains, reading local papers and the New York Times, welcomed like a local, comforted as the refugee I had become, the scariest reality had to do with my beloved trees. One estimate, early on, was that we lost, in those few Sandy hours, 2 million trees. Think “2 million carbon sinks” everyone, two million living, breathing entities that used to absorb the CO2 we insist on pumping into the greenhouse called Earth.
What the mountain newspaper asserted was, “This was not a storm of floods nor even of winds — this was a case of trees-turned-weapons.”
Sandy Fury North Williamstown cfe
Drive anywhere, without even leaving Princeton. Toppled tree roots tower over dwellings of increasing magnitude. Even Morven itself is dwarfed by roots of the downed conifer in its front yard. Get out of the car to meet friends in the most privileged enclaves. Hear the tumultuous ripple of ‘tarps’ over roofbeams. Try to speak and hear above the roar of chain saws and tree-devourers.
Calm Before Storm, Bennington VT cfe
Sandy is no respecter of history, pedigree, address, or life station.
Years ago, I completed Tom Brown’s Tracker School. Ralph-the-Seneca was one of the participants, needing to learn Indian ways, especially foraging for wild foods, as intensely as I did. Ralph had been brought there to teach us the art of bow-making. At the end of making fire, Ralph took me aside, in the opening of a sturdy barn. “We are poisoning Mother Earth,” he intoned solemnly, back in 1983. “And she will do what any healthy animal does under those circumstances. She will vomit us out.”
Although I was far from Tracker School and our beloved Jersey Shore - in fact, from New Jersey’s three unique coastlines — that battered Shore, the Delaware River and the Delaware Bay, i experienced Ralph’s prophecy’s being fulfilled.
Climate change has never been a factor of ‘belief’! It’s here, now, big-time. Are we big enough to face it?
Canal Scene at Millstone Aqueduct, Brenda Jones
near first post-op kayaking on Lake Carnegie, near new eagle nest and feeding tree…
NJ Wild readers know that I have been on a healing journey. since total hip replacement on November 9. Most of the time, I write of its miracles. But I must admit, the voyage is long and sometimes gruelling. It involves a great deal of spiritual work, as well as lengthy nightly exercise, not only of ‘the surgical leg.’
It won’t surprise NJ WILD that, for me, key spiritual healing happen OUTDOORS, in nature, in New Jersey, especially on or near Princeton’s D&R Canal and Towpath. Of course, that region was particularly effective that day I was taken kayaking for the first time, post-op, this April, on Carnegie Lake.
This week, for example, I felt far less alone as I unexpectedly encountered ‘our’ American bald eagle in the top of a deciduous tree right across the Lake Carnegie dam. This bird, as Brenda’s below, was most staunch, ’stiffening my spine’ to continue the sometimes invisible progress.
Eagle Perched, by Brenda Jones
as in deciduous tree across Lake Carnegie Dam from Towpath
Last night, a red fox, right out of The Little Prince, was sitting next to my white begonias, shining in starlight. Picture this alert creature clouded by darkness, surrounded by white petals. He gazed and gazed deep into my eyes, and I had to leave before he did. “…and you will sit a little closer to me, every day…”
Fox Close-Up, Brenda Jones
A significant portion of my spiritual healing takes place meditatively. Right now, it is, when I am most blessed, in the company of wolves. The wolf phalanx headed by Jasmine, a timber wolf I met in real life at New Jersey’s stunning Lakota Wolf Preserve, up near the Water Gap. Jasmine has since passed to the spiritual realms, but shewas very real, welcoming Tasha O’Neill and me to that wild place, although Jasmine emerged from pale roses.
Jasmine, of Lakota Wolf Preserve
Here is a new poem about the wolves, the comfort, sustenance and protection they provide me. Being ‘torn from sanctuary’ refers particularly to having to perform healing contortions in public in a cacophonous place otherwise known as ‘physical therapy.’ I would rather be home with the wolves…
Here is one of the new poems, gift of the Muse who returned at the hospital on the day of my hip surgery:
Lakota Wolf by Tasha O’Neill, with whom I met Jasmine…
JASMINE AND THE PHALANX
finally, it is time
to lie down with the wolves
this phalanx sent daily
to expand my healing
– the silver, the noir –
only one is named
but all are ready
– hushed, puissant
I first met sweet calm
in wolf eyes
when exquisite Jasmine
emerged from her rose bower
in the place named Lakota
my wolves lope
wherever I must go
especially as I am torn and torn
pelts, stiff yet soft
over perfect bones
I do not share
then pour recovery
into this strafed body
horizontal and free
I sink into the hush
of wolf breathing
light in wolf fur
supple power radiating
like the moon’s corona
at full eclipse
CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN
Lake Oswego Peace — South of Chatsworth, Carolyn Foote Edelmann
Desperately seeking the wild, I’ve returned to my Edward Abbey collection, making my way through his work and others writing about this literary rebel, this self-proclaimed ‘desert rat’. It is essential right now that I live for awhile with ‘Cactus Ed’.
I need his crusty refusals of ‘growth and development’. I require his ecstasy in the face of cactus and rattlesnake. My healing leg ‘walks’ with Ed in these books — in his red rocks and among his cherished junipers, occasionally coming upon desert primrose, respecting the ever-present spider and viper.
But enough of this prickly Paradise. I have my own. And it’s in our state - in the spirit of Abbey, I defy myself to define Paradise, because mine is in New Jersey:
Lake Oswego Summer, South of Chatsworth, Pine Barrens (cfe)
shared with one attuned person or blessedly alone, sometimes with camera
there is sand, and/or marshland
Afloat, Lake Oswego — (cfe)
long silken grasses are kissed and rearranged by very varied tides
birds are ever present or possible: on the ground, in trees, ruffling the leaves, troubling the shrubs. Birds are overhead. They pierce tidal flats. Wings flat out, they harry and raptor. Some murmur, some croak. Everywhere I walk, there are whistlings, whisperings and rustlings. I am ever on the lookout for rails and bitterns, whether I ever find one or not. A bird is downing two snakes in the time it takes to type this (as did a great egret at ‘The Brigantine’ some years ago). A minuscule pied-billed grebe gulps a January frog, as happened a few weeks back.
Thistle Shimmer, Lake Batsto (cfe)
back roads get me to Paradise — hushed roads, where I am often the only car. Road edges are dusted with sugar sand. Forest understory (which must contain evergreen and the luminous black jack oak), switches from laurel to blueberry to fern to pine seedlings and oakthrusts, and back again.
New Jersey Paradise is especially defined by its people - who live by the seasons and the tides. The Abbey in me asserts, “not by the clock; and, by God, not by the Dow Jones Stock Index!”
the roads that lead to Carolyn’s Paradise must hold a beauty of their own, for at least 2/3 of the way. Pine Barrens and Salem and Cumberland County provide such aesthetic conduits, away from commerce, to wildest nature
Idyllic Batsto Lake, Pine Barrens (cfe)
roadways and destinations involve freshwater, saltwater, varying salinities, peatwater, whitewater, the stillness of the bays darkling streams wind alluringly back under the dark pines, tugging at the kayaker in me
the regions I am exploring involve bogs and fens, spongs, groves and copses
rare plants lurk right around the next bend — curly grass fern, swamp pink, carnivorous flowers who must lure insects for protein due to the strange ph of soils in Carolyn’s New Jersey Paradise — sundew, pitcher plant — those ravenous ones… when least expecting it, I am to be knocked over by wild fragrance, such as sweet pepperbush, along the peatwaters of Lake Oswego south of Chatsworth rare lilies bloom in ditches as I drive goldenclub erupts behind a dam I would otherwise despise with Abbey - but it did create this ideal habitat for a plant I’d only known in the splendid nature books of Howard Boyd
Among the Rare Lilies, Brigantine Wildlife Refuge (cfe)
often in my wanderings to and through Paradise, I must come on mosses and lichens and occasional fungi. Although I long to devour each mushroom, this foraging remains virtual, ignorance being quite the barrier where these savories are concerned
Leeds Point - Hard-Shell and Soft-Shell Crabs cfe
quaint names are essential — alongside the back roads and out in front of farms, beside the waters:
“Troublesome Acres” “Heaven’s Way Farm” “Farrier” Dividing Creek “Bears, Bucks and Ducks” Shellpile Bivalve Caviar Ong’s Hat — some of these names go back generations and centuries, and only the locals may know how to find them, by a crumbling foundation or some domestic plant run wild in another kind of wilderness Applejack Hill’s name has been changed, for the tourists, to Apple Pie Hill — Abbey, are you listening? Applejack, of course, — talk about terroir!– was/is New Jersey Lightnin’ — each Piney tending his own still with attention, experience and a shotgun.
Sneak Boat Ready to Sneak - Leeds Point (cfe)
History must have happened in my Paradise — especially Native American and Revolutionary
Here a battle must have been fought and lost, such as the fiery Revolutionary fate of Chestnut Neck.
Here locals must have defied and overcome proud dazzlingly uniformed British, taking their ships and their stores inland from the coast, along the storied Mullica River - without which waters and watermen we would not have a nation today!
Clouds in the Water, Chatsworth Bogs (cfe)
Here salt hay must have been harvested by man and horse in the steamiest of seasons, and great whales tugged ashore and ‘tried’ for their various riches.
Here traitors must’ve conspired, smugglers rowed by night, bootleggers brought contraband ashore to sell and to imbibe.
Leed’s Point - Smugglers’ Haven - Living Fishing Port cfe
Here clammers still tug their rich provender onto deck and into seafood restaurants tethered to waterways, creaking boards hinting of sagas of old, as at Oyster Creek Inn at Leeds Point.
It helps that Leeds Point is the home of the Jersey Devil, whom I am still requesting to meet.
“Ready to Roll” cfe
Intriguing restaurants must be nearby. Farmers’ Markets must be open, and people must be selling the spring’s first asparagus, sliced from that meagre soil, at roadstands with a little box for the money for this treasure beyond price. Russo’s Market in Tabernacle must have its spicy applesauce apples outside in thick plastic bags, next to the honesty box, at the beginning of winter.
Only people who treasure timelessness and tranquillity need apply for such journeys.
A day in the Pines will require about 200 miles of driving, longer if we detour to Tuckerton, formerly Clamtown. Why Tuckerton? Because great and little blue and tri-colored herons may stud the grassy reaches, depending on the tide, as we tool along Seven Bridges Road. Because there’s a place along there, –out on a somewhat suspect roadway–, where one can stop for the freshest clams, unless one has wriggled them out personally, using one’s own toes. Because at the end of this road, (and HOW I LOVE Land’s Ends!), there used to be an island village, now sea-claimed. Here, in season, one can find the vivid oystercatchers in full breeding plumage, turning over the few rocks on the sandy approach to the bay.
Life of the Seasons and the Tides Leeds Point cfe
Because closer to town, one can happen to be there when evergreens are studded with black-crowned night herons, squawk-murmuring to one another as sun drops into autumnal waters.
Carolyn’s New Jersey Paradise has to include kayaking possibilities, for her physical therapist is promising ‘back in the craft’ by April. If so, there is above all the Wading River to paddle and many ‘liveries’ to make these delicate journeys possible. There is always the exquisite Barnegat Bay in Island Beach’s back reaches - those paddles used to be free, with naturalists leading us among the Sedge Islands. There a feast of shore birds includes black skimmers not only skimming, but doing their odd sand squiggle on their bellies, when it’s just too hot.
Black Skimmers in Flight, Brenda Jones
I deeply understand Cactus Ed’s passion for the sere landscape of Arches and Canyonlands. I relish, with him, the silence. I don’t have rock formations in my Paradise, nor the song of the canyon wren and the slither of sidewinder. His Paradise is red and pink and magenta and ochre and burnt sienna and irreplaceable.
Mine is mostly forest green, toasty oak, sometimes ruddy blueberry leaves, interspersed with limitless stretches of flooded cranberry bogs, throwing back the sunset. In the distance, there is salt tang. Close up, there is the sibilance of peatwater.
If Ed had known the Pine Barrens, –especially her crusty inhabitants–, I think he’d've approved. Maybe only if he found it before Arches and Canyonlands. He might’ve kayaked the Sedge Islands, and even boarded the restored oyster schooner down at Bivalve, and helped tug the sails into the sky while singing sea chanteys.
Revolutionary Massacre Site - Alloway Creek, Salem County — (cfe)
He’d probably hang out overnight, black flies and greenheads or no, on the sands of Reed’s Beach when it’s studded with courting, mating horseshoe crabs and whatever red knots and ruddy turnstones remain on our planet.
Bucolic Salem County, where Rebels Countered Redcoats and Prevailed cfe
Paradise — for Ed and for me — seems to require a dearth of humans. It need not be awash in critters, but there needs to be that ever-possibility. Even the new health of New Jersey oysters, “Cape May Salts.” Even the restoration of sturgeon to the Delaware River and elsewhere along this state of three coasts — once so enormous and plentiful that there is a mystery town still known as Caviar along the Delaware Bay.
An essential quality of Paradise, however, is that it cannot be explained.
So, inexplicably, I assert, New Jersey, especially South Jersey (and also Sandy Hook) holds varying versions of Paradise, all of them yours for the seeing. And none of them seasonally-dependent. Go for it!
Salem Preserved cfe
AND, ABOVE ALL, SEE THAT ALL VERSIONS OF NEW JERSEY PARADISE ARE PRESERVED!
Lest, like Thoreau, we find out we had not lived…
January’s Short-Eared Owl, Pole Farm, off Cold Soil Road - Brenda Jones
When one is firmly instructed, regarding a cane, “Don’t leave home without it,” how can one access the wild?
When I was still in post-op mode, ‘extending the surgical leg’ and ‘building core strength’ became the heart of the matter of my odd life.
It occurs to me that others, without even having met the knife, may hesitate to set out on New Jersey Trails. Even though I’ve been raving about them all these years, in NJ WILD and in print; even though you can go onto NJ TRAILS.org and discover super hiking spots in most counties in our state.
If you’re a beginner, or a somewhat reluctant returner to trails, where might you start? Where might there be gifts for you, without the daunting? If weight loss is mandated, and diet isn’t enough, where might you slim and strengthen, while being delighted by New Jersey Nature?
I’ve decided to list nearby trails that have turned me back into a walker, even though trails that climb are still verboten. I’m setting out with prescribed cane and friend’s arm. I have now been given official permission to set out alone, with my two trekking poles for balance and trip-protection. None of these is far from Princeton, as you well know.
Bluebird in Full Cry, Brenda Jones
All hold gifts. Give them a whirl. I’ll see you out there!
My first trail adventure was the Hamilton/Trenton/Bordentown Marsh. (www.marsh-friends.org). There’s a flat road that circles Spring Lake, formed by a spring even before the land became sacred to Lenni Lenapes. As those who read NJ WILD know, even though I could barely make 1/4 the lake road on that first forasy, we were greeted by a raft of the tiny white-billed coots on the lake; one stately swan; an unidentifiable flock of migrant birds against the lowering light; then a descent of silent geese into jungley waters to our right. We barely made it in and out before sundown that time. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!
Today, that friend and I are heading back to the Marsh to do the entire lake road. Those who can cross over the bridge into wooded areas of the Marsh are in for treats beyond counting. Even with its watery name, the trails are dry and waterproof footwear is not essential. In the Marsh in all seasons, I have found owls in the daytime, fox dens, and owl pellets. Directions are on the Friends for the Marsh web-site.
Fox Listening for Vole, Pole Farm, Brenda Jones
My second trail excursion was the road alongside the quarry that is now a lake at Plainsboro Preserve. It’s a broad flat expanse, with a sacred beechwood on the left and a shimmer of water hiding the former industrial might of this site. In winter, rare ducks stud the lake surface. Inside the beechwood, the temperature is ten degrees warmer in winter, cooler in summer — because of the microclimate. I only ventured into the beechwood this time, because that trail is rough underfoot for ‘the surgical leg’. In season, probably June, the beechwood hides exquisite secret plants, the frail white Indian pipe, and the ruddy almost invisible beech drops. On our road, my friend and I were surrounded by bluebirds, like the house-cleaning scene in Snow White in my childhood. We both yearn to return for bluebird blessings.
Numbers never matter to me - so I don’t know which treks were the footbridge over the Delaware River, from Bull’s Island to the Black Bass Inn and back. That luminous, windswept stretch was the site of final hikes with the leg that very nearly refused to work. I have now accomplished it twice and merrily, in full sun and exuberant wind, above the river I fought so hard to save in the 1980’s from the dread and all-conquering PUMP. There is a fellowship of the footbridge that is a joy in any season. Taking others inside the Black Bass to encounter the real original zinc bar from Maxim’s is a thrill for all my francophile friends. The food is delightful and the riverside setting cannot be topped.
One could even push someone in a wheelchair along the footbridge. It’s necessary to enter on the Jersey side, usually — few parking places in PA. They don’t cherish their towpath and canal as we do… There’s plentiful parking at Bull’s Island, and many (rockier, rootier, not yet for me) trails which are a joy, especially in spring, when I have encountered trees on the Island with more warblers than leaves.
The Sourlands is full of trails, again to be found via NJ TRAILS.org. I have twice now been privileged to hike the one off Greenwood Avenue, (north from Route 518, Hopewell, at Dana Building.) Once, that earthen road was used to carry out the boulders now preserved, to turn them into gravel to build New Jersey Roads. Now the roadway leads ever inward, among boulders that bring Stonehenge to mind. The overstory reveals beeches and tulip trees, the occasional shagbark hickory. The understory is brightened and softened by mosses and ferns. The air is alive with the sound of visible and invisible watercourses.
On Saturday, children’s voices rang ahead and behind us on the trail. I wanted to find Richard Louv and tell him, In the Sourland Mountain Preserver, there are children in the woods, and they are laughing and even splashing, in January!
Sourlands Trail in January, Brenda Jones
This coming weekend, I’ll try Griggstown Grasslands, newish preserve off Canal Road, where I live, just south of the Griggstown Causeway. We’ll drive up the steep entry and take that long earthen road, weather permitting. There are lovely grasslands there, tended for the sake of birds who require especially in nesting season. At Griggstown Grasslands, as we did on Saturday at the Sourland Mountains Preserve, I can pick up the welcome whiff of morning’s fox, who had obviously been assiduously marking his territory.
Foxy Close-Up, Brenda Jones
I’m not currently essaying the D&R Canal and Towpath, because of too many storms and floods - fearing too much unevenness underfoot(e).
No, I haven’t made it to the Pole Farm, yet. This has been officially designated an Important Birding Area, and holds wild treasures in all seasons. There’s a road, there, longer than all I’ve described here. The short-eared owls should be soaring at dusk, foxes ever-possible.
The moral of this post is, even tethered to a cane, the Princeton region is full of the wild. It’s easily accessed and will enrich you beyond measure.
And keep an eye on the skies around Carnegie Lake - ‘our’ American bald eagles should be courting and nest-building as we ’speak’.
American Bald Eagle, Millstone Aqueduct, Brenda Jones
How fortunate we are to live in WILD New Jersey…
There’s entirely too much virtual naturing going on in our time. There is NO substitute for being OUT there on the trail, in the kayak, following the birds, threading a forest! However, when Mother Nature is uncooperative weather-wise, or “the world is too much with us” - one rich substitute is reading our gifted (and often quirky and challenging) nature writers.
I had considered a book list, but no! Authors are the key.
A firm believer in independent bookstores, I find my natural mentors at Half Price Books in Montgomery, near the movie theatre; and at Labyrinth, doing a fine job of helping us not to miss Micawber’s on Nassau Street.
Here’s my short list - what’s yours? The Henry’s: Thoreau and Beston (Outermost House). Edward Abbey’s anything. Rachel Carson, ditto. Aldo Leopold. Wendell Berry. Rick Bass and Farley Mowatt, the latter especially on wolves and whales. Annie Dillard and Anne La Bastille - Woodswoman, what I long to be! Terry Tempest Williams, describing her red deserts, exhorting us to preservation, conservation and stewardship. Gary Paul Nabhan on seeds, restoring heirlooms to our produce stands. Michael Pollan’s anything. Mary Austin on deserts. Seminal birding author, Roger Tory Peterson’s Wild America and Kenn Kaufman’s evocative Kingbord Highway, inspired by Roger’s journey with his British colleague.
This will do for starters… opportunities for savoring… I am eager for your responses.
Upon reading “Her Idea of a Beautiful Day”, in My Story As Told By Water, my first thought was, ‘Well, what would be MY idea of a beautiful day?’ Its subjunctive question immediately appeared - ‘What is YOURs?‘ – readers of and cherished commentors upon NJ WILD–, what renders a day beautiful in your life, at this moment in time?
My Story as Told By Water is a riverine memoir by David James Duncan. This man is a modern bard, in prose and diatribe, of the endangered American West, –particularly its rivers, especially of its salmon. Over and over, Duncan teaches, “As salmon go, so go the rivers.” And the indigenous people whose lives since time immemorial have depended upon the rivers and their creatures. With salmon and salmon people go the state, the region, the nation and ultimately the globe. Especially here in the east, we do not GET it about the peril of and the implications of industrial murder of salmon.
Sunfish, Baldpate Mountain Pond, Brenda Jones
Edward Abbey taught us first the evil of dams. David James Duncan blows on Abbey coals. My Story As Told By Water is my favorite title of the genre, the way Dickens’ “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” is my favorite opening line of any novel. Young Duncan fell in love with water using a garden hose in his childhood driveway. His first love was abruptly relinquished for the real thing, when the boy fell INTO his first trout stream, discovering crawdads and fish. Duncan’s chapters tango between ever increasing passion for natural waterways, and fury at all who would destroy them. His rage and eloquence increase exponentially in our era of greed-enthronement.
The boy describes having been stunned by his grandmother’s rabid devotion to her job as a real estate agent: “Her idea of a beautiful day was one that increased the likelihood of her selling a house.” Nature, to Duncan’s grandmother, “had an unwashed, unsaved ring to it.”
Needless to say, “a beautiful day” to this author involves water, usually fresh, with the promise of fish. David James Duncan forces me to consider my own definition of a beautiful day. The instant answer is any day with friends, sharing nature with the perfect blend of passion, knowledge, and curiosity. Remarkable food is often involved, and frequently art. But if I had to choose but one factor for “my beautiful day”? NATURE.
I was frankly stunned to discover that “my beautiful day” need not be fair. “A beautiful day” to me is something that hardly ever happens any more — a time of long soft soaking rain. Gentle in quality and quantity, lowering a scrim over the harsh world. Rain that whispers, at most sizzles. This precipitation is neither so white and stiff as was my bridal veil, nor so dense and weighty as Jacqueline Kennedy’s widow’s veil — which cast a pall over my life, and was first worn in the impossible aftermath of this very day, November 22, in 1963. The most beautiful day to me now, in New Jersey, in the year 2008, is rain that tiptoes along the thirsty earth. It simply nourishes seeds, –without dislodging soil, let alone removing pebbles. A beautiful day’s rain never topples trees because of both quantity and intensity, without even factoring in damaging wind. What I require now is rain as it was before global warming.
Lately, as NJ WILD readers know, I’ve learned to be out in what the Brits call “a mizzle of rain.” There’s a blessing in it — tactile, even spiritual. I may prefer the days of rain and fog because they soften the impossible harshnesses of the 21st Century. You also know, nature is my church, and the Towpath and Canal in particular. David James Duncan says it better: “Church became a place where I waited for rain.”
“Pine Drops” hold the rain, by Lauren Curtis
Wood Duck - Brenda Jones - Frequently Mentioned in Hopewell Valley Trail Guide ponds
NJ WILD readers are accustomed to my urging exploration, in search of the wild, the beautiful, adventure in our region. I recently was brought a thorough and beautifully written trail guide by Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space. I read and underline a few trail ‘chapters’ every night at supper. Virtual hikes…
Below, find Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space’s launch release. I requested it, once I started paging through this Guide to Walking Trails in the Hopewell Valley.
We’ll soon have the Guides at D&R Greenway Land Trust. Call me at 609-924-4646, Monday through Thursday, and I’ll let you know if they’re in. This is your Open Sesame to “thousands of acres of preserved open space” — free for the hiking, in the legendary next-door Sourland Mountains Region.
Baldpate Mountain View, by Brenda Jones
The Hopewell Valley is due west of us, over Route #518 or Carter Road into Hopewell, then up Greenwood Avenue to my favorite Sourlands Hike. Those ‘mountains’, to me, are a land of history and mystery, miraculously still green and rocky and vibrant, despite the 21st century’s ever-strangling rings of concrete.
The Guide celebrates the partnership of FOHVOS, Mercer County, Hopewell Township, Pennington Borough, Hopewell Borough, the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association and D&R Greenway Land Trust, where I work. Among them, some seventy miles of trails are open, blazed and maintained so that all of us may experience the wild.
Blue-winged Warbler, Baldpate, last week, by Brenda Jones
The point of preservation, however, in MY book, is not human need. It’s the essential habitat requirements of animal, vegetable and yes even mineral - those splendid, monumental Sourlands rocks! Sit upon some of those boulders, in the middle of a hike, and feel the sustenance and even electricity of the earth herself, buttressing you and thanking you for your appreciation.
My Sister, Marilyn Weitzel, Being Sacajawea, Sourlands - cfe
For birds, above all migrant songbirds, these contiguous preserved acres provide meat, drink, sanctuary and flyways. Legendary Sourlands naturalist, Hannah Suthers, bands ‘passerines’ during spring and fall migration, checking their health as well as their numbers. She began counting migrating birds on horseback along Featherbed Lane. Thanks to Hannah, proof exists of the importance of preserved open land to thousands of winged creatures alone, especially on journeys and often for breeding and successful raising of young.
Essence of Hopewell Valley’s Sourlands cfe
What this splendid book, with handsome color photographs of Hopewell Valley scenes, and stunning nature drawings by Heather Lovett, sings to me is, “Whose woods these are, I think I know…” (Robert Frost, of course - this is virtual Frost country.) Whose woods these are, are YOURS.
Come claim your woods and mountains, through these 19 numbered, illustrated, mapped and memorable pages!
Fox Kit at Baldpate last week, by Brenda Jones
Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space
P.O. Box 395
Pennington, NJ 08534
For immediate release
Contact: Patricia Sziber, Executive Director
(609)730-1560 – office
(609)203-4720 – cell
Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space Trail Guide Published
Just in time for National Trails Day, which was celebrated on June 4th this year, Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space (FoHVOS) has produced a Guide to Walking Trails in the Hopewell Valley. The 28-page booklet features locations, maps and descriptions of 19 trails open to the public for hiking and enjoyment of nature. Design and printing of the guide was made possible by a generous donation from Pennington residents Jim and Rhonda Vinson, long-time advocates of open space preservation and walking trails for residents in our region.
Mr. Vinson suggested the guide to the Friends in January and FoHVOS Vice President Tom Ogren took the lead on the project. He recruited Hopewell Township resident Mahlon Lovett, Director of Multimedia Design in Princeton University’s Office of Communication, for layout and design. One of the first steps was to decide on a format that would accommodate all of the graphics and descriptive information that would help people locate and enjoy the trails. In addition to the trail maps, the 10- by 7.5-inch booklet includes street locations of the trail heads, trail length and GPS coordinates for the parking areas, plus photos and artwork.
The guide includes seven trails on preserves owned by FoHVOS, as well as those owned or managed by Mercer County, D&R Greenway Land Trust, Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, the State of New Jersey and Hopewell Borough—approximately 70 miles of trails in all. Most of the trails provide opportunities for relatively easy walking; the trails on Baldpate Mountain offer a longer and more challenging hike.
FoHVOS President John Jackson remarked, “The trail guide would not have been possible without the hard work and contributions of so many people, whose enthusiasm for the project has resulted in this beautiful booklet. We want to thank the New Jersey Trails Association, D&R Greenway and the GIS Center for the maps and many of the trail descriptions. Special thanks are due to Simcha Rudolph who customized the maps and Chris Berry who verified much of the location information. We also thank Heather Lovett for her wonderful artwork and, especially, Jim and Rhonda Vinson for their inspiration and generosity…and their faith in FoHVOS to carry the project through.”
The Guide to the Walking Trails in the Hopewell Valley will be available at all three municipal buildings in the Hopewell Valley, public libraries and other locations. Residents may also request a copy by sending an e-mail with their name and mailing address and “Trail Guide” in the subject line to email@example.com.
Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space President John Jackson (left) presented the first copy of the group’s Guide to Walking Trails in the Hopewell Valley to project sponsors Rhonda and Jim Vinson at the entrance to Curlis Lake Woods near Pennington.OH
REASON to REJOICE - D&R CANAL COMMISSION TO CONTINUE
NJ WILD readers know my passion for the D&R Canal and Towpath. For decades, as a poet, I referred to those sacred trails as “nurse, haven and muse.”
Eagle over Sculler on Lake Carnegie - D&R Canal Park - Brenda Jones
It’s never made any sense to me that we might do away with the D&R Canal Commission! That water is our drinking water. That historic landscape is beyond price. The Commission costs taxpayers nothing, which people more politically astute than I can and do explain easily. My friend and colleague at D&R Greenway, Jim Amon, is a person of the highest integrity and honor. He served as Director of the D&R Canal Commission for thirty years before coming to us as Director of Land Stewardship. It is to Jim’s vigilance, persistence, high aesthetic sense, and political savvy that we owe much of the beauty of that State Park. Even the handsome ‘new’ bridge over Route 1 at Lawrenceville, designed to echo canal bridges and wrought iron signs of yesterday, wouldn’t have happened without Jim. In all its years, the D&R Canal Commission has only missed decision deadlines ten times! Tell us what other government agency can match this record, these accomplishments.
Alexander Road Bridge, D&R Canal and Towpath, Full Summer cfe
But Governor Christie said the Commission had to go. The Commission was going to be folded into NJ DEP, that same sterling bureaucracy that just brought us the inexplicable shooting of the beavers of Mountain Lakes so-called Preserve… “And Governor Christie is an honorable man….” (please feel full irony straight from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in the above quote, one of my favorite speeches in all theatre…)
Approaching Storm, Griggstown, D&R Canal and Towpath, Martha Weintraub
Many of us protested the evisceration of the D&R Canal Commission in various ways, –in person and through letters and in the hot links I am always urging NJ WILD readers to use. Thank heaven especially for Jeff Tittel, head of NJ Sierra Club, for leading the charge. Here is the result of courage and persistence.
Great Blue Heron with Fish, Lake Carnegie, D&R Canal State Park, Brenda Jones
Never cease to be vigilant in terms of saving New Jersey beauty and history.
D&R Canal State Park, Mapleton Aqueduct, cfe
Senate resolution supports D&R Canal
On Thursday, the Senate Environment Committee unanimously released SR117 (Smith/Bateman), a resolution supporting the continued existence of the Delaware and Raritan Canal Commission (DRCC) and calling on the governor to authorize the commission to hire a new executive director and full-time staff.
The Assembly Environment Committee passed a similar resolution on Monday. The commission helps operate the Canal Park, which is a state and national historic district visited by 1 million people a year, and oversees land decisions that impact the state park and the water supply for 1.5 million people.
Not Only Drinking Water - Kayaker, Tasha O’Neill
“In order for the D&R Canal Commission to be an independent, professional board, the Legislature needs to support it. The DRCC brings a planning and regional perspective to development applications along the Canal that DEP does not have when it comes to land use planning,” said Jeff Tittel, director of NJ Sierra Club. “The Governor is trying to take over the DRCC and merge it with the DEP. We believe that what the administration wants to do is wrong and we applaud the Legislature for moving this resolution forward.”
The DRCC has been under attack since December when DEP Commissioner Martin recommended the board be abolished under Governor Christie’s Executive Order 15.
The Sierra Club challenged the statutory authority of the governor to eliminate the DRCC and that of the DEP to dictate who the DRCC hires. On Thursday the DRCC held a special meeting where the governor’s representative on the board outlined the administration’s plan to maintain the commission but move staff into the DEP to share resources, despite DEP staffing being at historical lows. The representative also presents two resumes from within the DEP to fulfill the executive director position, which will be vacant on June 1, leaving the DRCC with no staff to review or process permit applications.
In response, The DRCC passed a resolution stating it will decide who it will hire for their Executive Director position. The resolution also asked the Attorney General’s office to appoint legal representation to the Commission if the DEP and Department of Treasury did not place the new staff members on the payroll.
Having an independent regulatory land use program and board is critical not only for water quality but also for properly dealing with land use issues that affect the canal and the 400-square mile watershed. Diminishing staff at the DEP is ill-equipped to handle the additional workload eliminating the commission would result in and would not review localized and cumulative impacts to the park as thoroughly as the commission.
The commission has established their own standards and review procedures for projects to consider natural, historic, and recreational resources of the park, and the DEP only considers regulated program areas in issuing permits.
Less than 10 percent of projects considered by the DRCC would require DEP Land Use approval and the State Historic Preservation Office only has authority over projects in the Park that receive state or federal funding and cannot protect the scenic and recreational qualities of the Park.
Re-Creation: Come Sit a Spell, North from Mapleton Aqueduct, cfe
The commission also holds and monitors conservation easements for stream corridors prohibiting any future development, a land preservation technique that involves no expense to the state.
The 70-mile canal spans 22 municipalities in Mercer, Hunterdon, Somerset, Middlesex, and Monmouth counties. Fifteen of these municipalities and Mercer County have adopted resolutions opposing the elimination of the DRCC.
Artist Joe Kazimierczyk Treasures North Jersey - his “Mountain Road”
Fellow hikers, [though no NJ WILD reader], ask why I seem never to write of New Jersey North. The truth is, for me, the journey is the destination. You know my passion for empty Pine Barrens Roads, for being surrounded by dense woods, near resonant peat streams, going down every “No Outlet” in Salem and Cumberland Counties to the Delaware Bay.
The splendor of Joe’s images from New Jersey North could almost convince me otherwise, however.
NJ WILD readers know that I need route to and from nature sites to nourish, to serve as part of my haven experience.
Roads I must utilize to reach North Jersey are fraught, competitive, frankly too corporate, populated with people in a driven mood (pun intentional). Those highways sap my strength, come between beauty and me, peace and me, nature and me. Those conduits undo the good of most northern excursions, with the possible exception of Ken Lockwood Gorge up beyond Clinton.
A CANOE CALLED DISCOVERY, CLINTON… cfe
It was worth taking highways to reach beautiful Clinton and its Colorado-like Gorge. But I digress:
Roads North Do Not Daunt Artist Joe Kazimierczyk - They Inspire Him:
Route 202 North
Route 202 North Immortalized by Joe Kaz
There are hardy souls, [such as one of my all-time favorite New Jersey artists], Joe Kazimierczyk, who treasure northern sites and will pay any price, highway-wise, bear any burden to reach them. Joe, whom everyone calls Joe Kaz, is a joy as a person as well as through his art. As I once wrote in a poem to Vincent Van Gogh, I could say to Joe, “You write as well as you paint!” Joe Kaz — man of the eloquent brush.
You can see his work, beginning this Wednesday, at the Verde Gallery in Kingston, next to legendary local/sustainable/gourmet’s haven, Eno Terra Restaurant. http://www.joekaz.com/galleries/verde_artists_collective
Verde Artists’ Collective
4492 Rte 27, Kingston, NJ, 08528
Venue Type: Arts / Cultural Center
Hours: Wed - Sat 11-5, Sun 12-4 and by appt
Accessible to persons with disabilities.
Here is the key to the treasury of Joe’s superb art of the moment, catalyzed by nature, especially in the Sourland Mountains, which we of D&R Greenway Land Trust have done so much to preserve. Joe devotes his life to singing Sourland praises, as well as Hunterdon County and the D&R Canal and Towpath. Without preservation throughout our beleaguered state, Joe would be lacking the major sources of inspiration for his brilliant works.in oil and acrylic. http://www.joekaz.com/
My purpose is to honor Joe, as well as to be fair to the northern part of our fair state. When Joe speaks of North, he means in and near and on the way to and from the Delaware Water Gap. Up there, he can lose himself in trails and timelessness, return with shimmering canvases.
Round Valley, Northern New Jersey, Tryptych — Joe Kazimierczyk
I’ll collect some of Joe’s words about North Jersey, which inspires him, beyond his native Sourlands.
Joe and I were write/talking about bears in NJ, I remembering bears near Chatsworth in the Pines. He writes:
I’ve only seen bears twice in NJ and both times were up there - once along the road on the way to Walpak, and once while hiking the trails near Rattlesnake Mtn. When I saw the bears on the trail, it was a mother bear with cub, so we just froze and didn’t move until the bears were out of sight.
Another sight I’ll never forget seeing up there - a large hawk flying low with a big snake in its claws. Wish I could say what kind of bird but I’m not good at bird identification. Impressive sight though!
Our initial interchange called forth these descriptions:
I haven’t painted any scenes up there in a long long time. I’m attaching 3 that I did in 1989 - they’re done with acrylics, and quite a bit different from those I’m painting now.
blue_mountain_1.jpg - this is a view from the AT atop Kittatinny Ridge somewhere above Buttermilk Falls, looking out over the Poconos. If memory serves, it was probably from Rattlesnake Mountain and nearby are a group of lakes and ponds named Blue Mountain Lakes.
Joe Kazimierczyk’s “Blue Mountain”
mountain_road_walpack.jpg - Near the town of Walpak, Mountain Rd takes you to the base of Buttermilk Falls. From there, it’s a very steep climb up to the Appalachian Trail. I wish I had a picture of Buttermilk Falls - it’s 75′ tall, the tallest waterfall in NJ. There a nice pic on this guy’s blog. This Park Service doc also has a photo: http://www.nps.gov/dewa/historyculture/upload/cmsstgOMR3WC.pdf
Joe Kazimierczyk’s Mountain Road, Walpack
mountain_road_walpack.jpg - Near the town of Walpak, Mountain Rd takes you to the base of Buttermilk Falls. From there, it’s a very steep climb up to the Appalachian Trail. I wish I had a picture of Buttermilk Falls - it’s 75′ tall, the tallest waterfall in NJ. There a nice pic on this guy’s blog. This Park Service doc also has a photo: http://www.nps.gov/dewa/historyculture/upload/cmsstgOMR3WC.pdf
Coppermines Trail by Joe Kazimierczyk
coppermines_tail_2.jpg - this painting is really stylized - nothing like the realism that I paint now, but I think it still captures the feel of Coppermines Trail where and the hemlock filled ravine it follows. There are also some nice waterfalls at the top of this trail. Closer to the bottom of the trail you can see some coppermine tunnels that go back to the mid-1700’s.
BUTTERMILK FALLS DESCRIPTION FROM Internet: This spectacular waterfall cascades down the mountainside just a few feet from the road; it is breathtaking in most seasons, but less so during dry periods. The National Park Service has built interpretive displays along a wooden stairway to the top of the falls, but use caution as it is quite steep and is likely to be damp. Adventurous explorers can take the Buttermilk Falls Blue Trail that climbs 1000 feet above the falls, and ultimately reaches the Appalachian Trail after approximately 1.9 miles. For more information visit http://www.nynjtc.org/trails/ebh/buttermilk.html.
Although Mountain Road is unpaved and rough in some areas, it can be rewarding for wildlife-viewing. There are several parking areas, and, as with the other sites in this region, a host of birds can be found, including American Redstart, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow, Blue-winged, Hooded, Magnolia and Northern Parula Warblers, Wood, Veery, Swainson’s and Hermit Thrushes, Eastern Wood Pewee, Great-crested Flycatcher and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.
Wikipedia on Joe’s northern region of inspiration:
At the south end of the park, the river cuts eastward through the Appalachian Mountains at the scenic Delaware Water Gap. A one-day auto tour of the park can include waterfalls, rural scenery, and historic Millbrook Village. Visitors can also canoe, hike, camp, swim, picnic, bicycle, crosscountry ski, and horseback ride. Fishing and hunting are permitted in season with state licenses. The park hosts significant Native American archaeological sites, and a number of structures remain from early Dutch settlement during the colonial period.
The birder in me is intrigued, as I hope NJ WILD readers are, also. Do your own North Jersey research, and send me your results as comments. Lead me on new trails. Thank you! cfe
And just in case you’ve forgotten the splendors of Ken Lockwood Gorge, north of historic Clinton: