Got up early on Saturday, met up with some total strangers (from a hiking group organized at Meetup.com) and drove out to the New Jersey/New York border for a sweaty day of hiking!
'Course, it wasn't anything like the Colorado trip I took around this time last year, though there were similarities. The main benefit is it wasn't much more than 1500 feet above sea level, so I could actually breathe as I hauled ass up the rocks and over felled trees.
Met some very nice people. The group was really well-organized and our leader, Suzanna, kept everyone in check and counted us up a lot using German numerals. She's originally from Germany, y'see, so a lot of this is clearly in the blood.
Anyway, my main concern had been that I'd be the slowest in the group and that was absolutely not the case — nor was I the fastest, not by a long shot — and overall it was a great day. After about two and a half hours more or less up, we came upon Lake Surprise (the joke being that there would be no lake there — surprise!) and went for a fantastically refreshing swim (see photo from yesterday that I moblogged). One hiker who joined us late and has decades of experience on all of us, Rob (aka "The New Guy") swam me over to some more private areas that you can only reach by swimming (or bushwacking) and we came upon a bunch of blueberries. Yum! Unfortunately, we also came upon some garbage leftover from some intrepid slobs. That was the only part that bothered me about the trip — the fact that no one in the group seemed to talk about or try to encourage the "leave no trace" policy. Everyone had a good heart there; no one wants to be a litterbug, but I'd thought regular hikers all paid attention to leave no trace. The basics are here, but a lot of people — including some on this trip — didn't know that it also means taking out all of your waste, not just the non-organic stuff. On the one hand, yes, an orange peel will biodegrade. But you take a thousand people leaving a thousand orange peels and the place is a pit.
I have nothing good to say about anyone who leaves non-biodegradable waste.
Anyway, that was a very small issue in what was a great day. After we paused at the lake to swim and eat we took a brief detour to the highest point around and overlooked Greenwood Lake. A couple of people were like, "New Jersey! Who knew?" and then we headed back for the much-shorter walk down to the cars. Total distance? About 7 miles or so.
I woke up feeling like I'd been beaten over the head! Still, a good way to spend a Saturday.