Mission Abort: Hike at Lehigh Gap

I headed out today with plans on hiking the east side of Lehigh Gap. My route was supposed to take me up the AT, along a retired section of the AT, back onto the current AT, and then down the Winter Trail (forming a rough Figure-8). That plan wasn’t meant to be.

The intersection of the AT and the Winter Trail at the beginning of my hike.

The intersection of the AT and the Winter Trail at the beginning of my hike.

I began my hike on the AT as planned. The trail climbed through the woods for a bit before beginning an exposed rock scramble. This side of the mountain had good southern sun exposure, so the snow was minimal.

However once Pickle and I crossed over into the shade, the snow got deeper. The trail, which was mostly blazed on the rocks, disappeared beneath the drifted snow. I tried to climb up to the ridge, assuming that I’d be able to relocated the trail when I reached the ridge. After several near-miss incidents and hip-deep postholes, I decided to cut my losses and head back down to the car.

I’m not a huge fan of hiking in the snow to begin with, and the trail was simply not enjoyable today. We’ll try this hike in the spring after things thaw out.

Pickle enjoying his post-hike TurboPUP bar.

Pickle enjoying his post-hike TurboPUP bar.

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Snowy hike to the Pinnacle

On Friday (1/30), My dog Pickle and I took a snowy hike on the Pinnacle and Pulpit Loop. This route uses the Appalachian Trail and a blue-blaze to form an 8.7 mile loop and goes by the two best vistas on the AT in Pennsylvania: The Pinnacle and Pulpit Rock. Check out this gallery of photos!

Sunfish Pond & Mount Tammany Loop

20140418-093511.jpgThis past Thursday, I decided to take a spur-of-the-moment hike, but I didn’t know where I wanted to go. The Pinnacle & Pulpit Loop is nice, but it seems to be all I do anymore. I needed a change. After a lot of annoyed googling, it dawned on me that I hadn’t hiked in New Jersey recently.

Sunfish Pond & Mt. Tammany can both be hiked together via several different out-and-back and loop hikes. My hike didn’t follow any of the exact routes covered at the previous link, so I’ll try my best to explain it to you. I forgot to take GPS readings, so everything will be “ballpark” numbers.

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I parked at Dunnfield Creek, which is just off of I-80 near the PA/NJ border (Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 40.974455,-75.125399). This lot can hold at least 20 cars, and there are other lots in the vicinity as well. This is a popular area to hike, so it could be busy on weekends with nice weather.  From there, I headed north on the Appalachian Trail. The trail is a slow, steady 1000 foot climb almost all the way to Sunfish Pond. There were quite a few sections that were very rocky, and many of the rocks were loose. This made for some precarious footing at times. I only twisted my ankle one time, which is pretty good for me. 3.7 miles later, I arrived at Sunfish Pond. I continued to follow the AT along the edge of pond, which required some minor scrambling over and around large rocks. As the AT rounded the far side of the pond, I reached a trail intersection with a sign for the Turquoise Trail, onto which I turned.

The Turquoise Trail only had one or 2 decent blazes before they vanished altogether. The visible footpath disappeared not long after that. I knew that my next goal, the Sunfish Fire Road, was just at the top of the near ridge, so I did a little bushwhacking and found the road pretty easily. I turned right on the road, which paralleled the far shore of Sunfish pond and spit me out at an intersection with the AT and the Dunnfield Hollow Trail.

The Dunnfield Hollow trail was rocky and wet, requiring no less than 5 nearly knee-deep crossings of the Dunnfield Creek. I imagine that the recent rainfall and snow melt made the creek deeper than normal, so summer crossings are probably fairly shallow. Just before I turned off onto the Blue Dot Trail, I encountered a major washout. This was an inconvenience, but it was still passable. There were also stone steps constructed as a bypass, but I didn’t feel that I needed them.

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After spending a few miles on the Dunnfield Hollow Trail, I hung a left on the Blue Dot Trail. This rocky trail climbed 1250 feet in 2.5 miles before reaching Indian Head Vista at the top of Mt. Tammany. The vista had some pretty great views of the Delaware River, Mount Minsi, and the much less beautiful I-80. At the vista, I encountered a large group of tourists who advised me not to descend via the Red Dot Trail because it was very steep and dangerous. I took the Red Dot Trail anyway.

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The Red Dot Trail descended 1250 feet in 1.5 miles. The tourists weren’t wrong. It was a little tricky to negotiate at times, but I didn’t end up having any real trouble. The trail ended right back where I started, at the Dunnfield parking lot. All in all, I spent just under 4 hours on the trail. I’m guessing I covered between 10 and 11 miles. It was a pretty great day!