Here's the part you've been waiting for. You're about to get your money's worth. Monstrous hill walk! Yes, it's concrete, but goddamn, it is a great workout.
Unexpected perk of this stretch of the Highlands trail: you can get a new car on your way to Spruce Run.
By 1913, Califon had the greatest number of businesses than any other town on the rail line, including a peach basket factory, two coal yards, two gristmills, five confectionary and tobacco stores, a piano shop, and much more. Peach production was a big business in the area.
By the way, you are Hunterdon County now. You can hold your head up atmospherically high. You've been through so many New Jersey counties now, you can't even name them all. Passaic seems like eons ago. You are an intergalactic highlands endeavorer. Take a bow to the brush.
Go by the school playground. Like, literally, you need to walk on it. Don't get arrested. Just keep going towards the street and keep your head down.
You're also walking along the Musconetcong River. Pay homage to the mighty musk. Old man musk. Ms. Musk. According to Wikipedia, human habitation in the Musconetcong Valley can be traced back approximately 12,000 years to the end of the last ice age. This should inspire awe.
Think about how resolute, how determined one must be to not only finish the last hike in no man's land, but to make a conscious decision to go back into it on the next one. To say to oneself, "it is from the void from which I came and to the void to which I shall return," this brings immortality.
Underneath the power line and its melody of high intensity voltage is a good spot to eat yogurt and think about the grid and try to catch drops of melting snow in your mouth.
If you are in Mahlon Dickerson Reservation and you don't go to the highest point in Morris County, what is the point? What is the point of you? The straight up dope is that there isn't much to see on this detour. It's just for bragging rights. I keep it real.
Frank is a stone mason, an expert at all things house and stone. As we hiked, more than a few times, he looked at the billions of year old rocks scattered along cliffs and forest floors and talked excitedly about rock harvesting. I have no idea what that is, but it sounded illegal, though potentially very profitable.
Big thank you to my good friend Adria Jover for joining me on this hike, the first to participate with me side by side on the epic Endeavor expedition. He injected an unprecedented level of class and sophistication to the odyssey, bringing cloth napkins and aged Manchego to the lunch break, for christ's sake.
Hot damn, you'll arrive on a fantastic ridge overlook of the north end of Buckabear Pond. It is a splendid place to rest and get your bearings. Marvel at this massive boulder that was ripped out of a mountain by a glacier 10,000 years ago.
The start of this hike was splendid, filled with mellifluous alpine spring music. Pine trees everywhere. Ferns and moss everywhere. Lots of marshland and muck, so make sure you have waterproof boots.
This is me wondering what's happening in Madison Square Park right now, where I used to work.
You'll come to a point where it will start to climb. Before you start the ascent, I want you to drink some water, have some raisins and nuts, smell your armpits. Think about how lucky you are to be in this moment. In New Jersey. In Norvin Green. With miraculous legs jumping and heart pumping to get you to the top of this mountain. Now stop wasting time thinking about this soft stuff, put your water bottle away, and get going.
You're starting at 99 Lake Riconda Drive. You'll remember this serene, family-oriented lake. This is not for you, these dreams of suburban utopia. You must head into the woods.
Problem is I got caught up in the steep climb and didn't think about it until 30 mins later. After consulting the map, I determined that I was climbing the very mountains that I sought to avoid on this blustery day.
Serious Highlands beauty and ruggedness kicking your ass. Ascend and descend two mountains: Horse Pond and Harrison. Amazing views of Monksville Reservoir, which is much better than it sounds.
The hike starts in New York State, which is not the best state in the world. The reason I chose this starting place is because I wanted to experience every inch of New Jersey, not shortcut it anywhere. So, it was worth the sacrifice of spending a small amount of time in New York. We call that good ROI.