wildlife

Stairway to Heaven

We finally hiked the “Stairway to Heaven” section of the Appalachian Trail, from Pochuck Valley to Pinwheel Vista and back. This was definitely one of the most versatile hikes I’ve been on. 

The trail starts out on a mile of boardwalk over marshes and through fields of wildflowers. You eventually make your way through a forest, then back out over train tracks and through a cow pasture. The last mile or so is a steep incline up to the Pinwheel Vista viewpoint.

The hike is a solid 7.4 miles from the entrance point on 517, to the viewpoint, and back. Most of it is easy, though – except for that last “stairway” up to the top. Definitely worth checking out!

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Friends

The weekend was almost a wash-out, but it cleared up just enough for a hike at Sourland Mountain on Sunday. 
 I think everybody was in need of some outdoor adventures. It was probably the biggest group hike this summer. 
 Dexter and I were excited to finally meet and hike with Katie of  Loistava Kennels . I’ve known Katie for years and have admired her beautiful Finnish Spitz for just as long. Dexter hit it off with her dogs, Kimma and Jari. I loved seeing so many fuzzy orange butts along the trail! 
 Unfortunately, with the threat of rain, I didn’t bring my DSLR or take nearly enough photos. But, there will be a next time!

The weekend was almost a wash-out, but it cleared up just enough for a hike at Sourland Mountain on Sunday.

I think everybody was in need of some outdoor adventures. It was probably the biggest group hike this summer.

Dexter and I were excited to finally meet and hike with Katie of Loistava Kennels. I’ve known Katie for years and have admired her beautiful Finnish Spitz for just as long. Dexter hit it off with her dogs, Kimma and Jari. I loved seeing so many fuzzy orange butts along the trail!

Unfortunately, with the threat of rain, I didn’t bring my DSLR or take nearly enough photos. But, there will be a next time!

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Hiking

Father’s Day meant a quick hike at Hacklebarney State Park in Long Valley, NJ before family time. The park was loaded with people hiking and picnicking with their dads. It reminded me of all my childhood hikes with mom and dad (and sister, when she joined the pack). 

I need to get them out into the woods again soon.

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Harriman

Harriman State Park is an enormous, beautiful spot just across the NJ/NY state line. Much like Ramapo and Pyramid Mountain, Harriman is full of steep inclines and plenty of boulders.

I know you’re not supposed to pick favorites, but Knox is by far my favorite dog to hike with. Dexter is great for off-leash hikes, but he tends to wander and pee on everything. Denali is way more focused, but she never stops pulling.

Knox, on the other hand, keeps a steady pace without pulling me over. He also seems to love climbing mountains as much as I do. I call him my little “billy goat”. He’s my usual choice for the longer, more intense hiking trips.

About two hours into our hike, I was pretty lost. We were on a trail, but Harriman is a huge park with many, many miles of trail. They don’t mean much if they don’t lead back to your parking lot. 

Luckily, we hit a road that cut through the park, and I was able to follow that for awhile before dipping back into the woods, onto a trail I knew would lead us back. Also, props to a dad and his two kids for steering us in the right direction.

The whole hike lasted over four hours and probably close to nine miles. I’m already eager to go back, though, since the park is so gigantic and has so many more awesome spots to see.

Full album on Flickr.

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