|Sunfish Pond on a calm, misty spring day
Wind Gap vicinty in NE PA to Barrett Rd., NJ, just south of Warwick, NY: ~91 miles
General Impression/Theme: Variety - a section with many different types of trail, which held me in constant interest. The hiker is treated with everything from steep climbs, bedrock slab scrambling, grand vistas, a major river crossing, and the first glacier-carved ponds, to long swamp boardwalks and puncheon sections, a long walk on levees between open water wetlands, pastures, and high meadows with vistas.
People: Paul 'Parkside' Bernhardt - my second meeting with him two months after meeting down south in March. 'Iceman', 'Viking', and 'Achilles', hiking together about 6 days ahead of Paul, but who had hiked and would again later hike many days with him. 'Sun Dog', hiking a big section Duncannon to Katahdin. He completed this in July, having done Springer to Duncannon last year. Section hiker Lyle, doing a significant piece from Culver's Gap, PA to Salisbury, VT. He's already done (by sections) the entire trail south of here. 'Scooter' aka 'The Edge' hiking a section for about a week through NY and also supporting two couples doing similar sections. 'Kit Kat', hiking SoBo between MA and Daleville, VA. She was also close to finishing the entire AT.
Supply/Overnight: I made frequent use of trailhead parking lots through here. Most had good cell/internet access. Frequented Newton, NJ for major shopping needs.
Worst Memory: The classic bad luck story - I had hiked 2000 miles by this point and then turned my ankle one evening, off trail, when trying to flatten an aluminum soda can. Fortunately this was minor, causing just a few days of discomfort. A second bad memory: Finding a major road access point (paved Blue Mountain Lake Road) closed for several miles either side of the trail. I had counted on (*ASS-umed*) this road being open and so had hiked a section of trail toward it without scouting it first. The result: I had to re-hike this section the next day.
Best Day Hike: I'm going to mention five of the best from this section, in reverse order:
Number 5: Wallkill National Wildlife Refuge - an easy two-state loop walk from a big parking area on Oil City Road. For added variety stay on the AT and plunge into the woods east of the Refuge for a long walk on puncheon through the wooded wetland to Lake Walkill Road.
Number 4: High Point State Park. Park in the park, various loop hikes available. The AT has a fine vista point from an observation deck just up from a parking area.
Number 3: Mt. Minsi from the town of Delaware Water Gap, PA. Beautiful deep woods hiking to the summit (rhododendron, hemlocks), a fine view from a rocky outlook along the way, then be sure to continue past the old fire tower foundation at the summit--a few hundred yards farther is the payoff: a superb view to the south of the Delaware River.
Number 2: Sunfish Pond, shown above. Be sure to take the Turquoise trail a tenth of a mile east off the AT from the north end of the pond to experience the view from a high rock outcrop on a peninsula - or continue to hike the entire loop around the pond. The most popular access is a 4 mile stretch of the AT, along a roaring stream at first, from the Delaware River at the large Dunnfield Natural Area parking lot. But the better hike is from the other direction starting at Millbrook-Blairstown Road. This offers many great vistas as the AT takes you across smooth open bedrock slabs along the ridge.
|Pochuck Swamp Boardwalk from near its S/W end at County 517