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Curse of the NJ Devil (that ass!): Pine Barrens TR
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“Trip from Hell!
Sorry, this was a private backpacking trip, but we figured since it still involved backpacking, we'd still post a trip report.
Attendees: ScorchFire, Katiebear, Mapleleaf, Twignut, Gemini
WHAT A TRIP! Everything that could have possible... we should have cancelled when Gemini got her speeding ticket on the drive up from SC! It was a damn omen that we ignored. Katiebear is now an official TTer! Hopefully we didn't scare her off and she'll start to post on TT. She's from the "other side."
Katie picked me up around 8:30pm Friday night. We were to meet Maple, Gem, and Twig at the Pine Barrens visitor's center. A 1.5 hour drive took us almost 3 hours in finding the Batona Campsite due to it not being labelled and #&%!$ty directions from the ranger. We got there around 11:00PM-ish and set up camp. It's really a nice campsite, far back in the woods. Real nice to sleep on the sand. We went to bed around midnight only to be woken up by the frenzy of Maple, Gem, and Twignut arriving at 2am. I didn't get out of my tent to greet them. Instead me and Katie cracked up at them trying to set up camp from inside our tents.
I was the first to wake up at 6AM. Went to scope out the rest of the campsites and found out that the water pump was broken... an omen already. By 6:30AM, I was bored and hungry and couldn't get my stove out of Katie's car because she had the keys in her tent. I decided to chuck a pine cone at Maple's tent to wake her and everyone else up. We had to drive all the way back to the visitor's center (which was really far) and then all the way back to where we were to start the Batona Trail and we wanted to get an early start anyway.
By the time we got to the visitor's center, it was about 8:30AM and they didn't open until 9. We met up with a couple who were doing some car camping and getting permits at the visitor's center. Since the center didn't open until 9, the couple took us on an excursion through the historic village within walking distance. I videotaped, Maple and Gem took pictures. We ran into a black snake and the guy picked him up and let us take all sorts of pictures.
Afterwards, we got our permits for Lower Forge campsite and head back to the trailhead.... this was after the couple told us all sorts of ghost sightings... enough so we'd be scared camping alone that night!
We got on the trail around 10AM. The heat was unbearable. 10 minutes into the hike and we were all drenched with sweat. The temp was 95 and with the horrible humidity, it felt like 110. The mosquitos and ticks were out FULL FORCE and I must have picked a total of 20 ticks off me over the entire weekend. If any of you are familiar with the Barrens, it's extremely flat with no views, so it was a pretty boring hike... but with Maple's knee and my leg acting up lately, we decided if we wanted to backpack, we needed something that wasn't strenuous. We saw a ton of treefrogs and toads (see pics).
Maple and Twig stayed behind most of the time due to Twignut not having backpacked in a really long time and not used to a full pack on her back (she had borrowed my external and wasn't used to wearing a different pack I guess). Me, Gem, and Katie chugged on when Maple and Twig stayed behind to eat lunch. By lunchtime, we just wanted to get the hell to camp. It was only about 7 miles to get to camp so we figured we couldn't be too far and we'd be there in no time since it was so flat. Well the heat made it feel like it was 20 miles long to all of us... man, that much sweating takes a lot out of you. On top of this, we all ran out of water and there were no water sources until we got to camp.
Me, Gem, and Katie stopped for lunch right before the turnoff to get to camp in order to let Maple and Twig catch up to us. When they got there, they sat down for a quick break and then we quickly resumed our trek.
The fun begins.....
We soon found the turnoff that led to the campsite and we knew that the campsite would be on our left side. Well all we had to do was follow the blazes but for some reason (even when I said that I didn't see any more blazes) we kept going straight. For about a mile or so. We thought we were so close to camp that we drank the rest of our water and basically had none left... not a good thing in this kind of heat/humidity.
We were off track for a good hour or so with no water and no idea what the hell we did wrong. Finally we back tracked and found where we missed our second turnoff that led to camp. We hopped back onto the trail and followed the blazes.... and kept following.... and kept following. The map was horrible. It said about a quarter mile in the campsite would be, but it was more like a mile! The whole time we were looking for the "river" with no luck. We were dying of thirst and by this point, the boots that I had poorly chosen to wear were blistering both of my feet... I could barely walk at this point.
We finally made it to camp and set up. We then found the "Red Sea" (the river was blood-red due to the cedar), filtered our water and took a "swim" in our sports bras and shorts... until Twignut pointed out a stalking eel. That ended our swim.
By this point I was limping on both legs due to blisters. I'm talking about monster blisters that enveloped my entire bottom front pad of my foot, in between toes, on my heel, etc. I think my old boots are just about retired. Too bad the other boots I own (Asolos) give me blisters too. I just cannot find a decent pair of boots. Poor Twignut was also hurting real bad.
We cooked, told stories, talked about other trips, videotaped, took pictures, etc. until nightfall when the spirits were broken out and the scaring began. All the pictures at night that were taken of me contained a stupid bright light behind me... it was really freaky. Then, what sounded like a howling noise came from behind Maple.. it wasn't far off either, so that scared us. To make a long story short, the night was filled with everyone scaring everyone about ghosts, scarey movies, Blackbeard the pirate who had his treasure buried in the Barrens, and the NJ Devil. We were petrified by the time we went to bed around midnight.
Around 4am, I woke up because I thought I heard some movement outside of my tent, but was a little nervous to go check it out. Later on I found out Gemini heard it too. It sounded like someone scratched at my tent, the end where my head was and started making weird sounds.. it sounded like a woman's voice, and then quickly vanished. I found out it wasn't anyone at our camp. Me and Gem have no clue what it could have been.
Woke up around 7AM and everyone cooked breakfast and then started packing up. Oh yea, and the sandy water clogged up Gemini and Katie's water filters.. the only 2 who brought them.... so we didn't even have enough water to last us the rest of the day. Me, Gem, and Katie were all packed up waiting for Twig and Maple to break down their camp and pack up when the heavens opened and the torrential downpours began. This was definitely no ordinary rain... it was painful. Poor Maple and Twig were absolutely soaked with no pack covers trying to pack up.
By this time I couldn't even walk with my boots on, so my feet were duct taped up, with socks and sandals. Now, my feet were soaked.
We walked about a half of a mile before I had to stop and try and put my boots on due to the sand started to get wet and kick up. Because of the rain, my socks were soaked and the duct tape was coming off. It was still downpouring. Switched to boots and kept walking (limping). It was real bad.
We realized we weren't going the right way on the trail and just as that happened, a truck rode by on the sand road and Mapleleaf flagged him down and asked if we could get a ride. I wasn't going to protest because I could barely walk... literally. We all gladly accepted. It was still torrential downpouring and we didn't have rain gear with us. Thanks to the Ed Norton look alike, his 2 adorable children, and Cocoa the brown lab who gave us a lift in the back of their pickup.
We made it back to the cars, sopping wet, packed up the cars and headed to the nearest diner to pig out. Another downfall.... none of us brought enough food to last us the weekend. WTF. We all figured since it was going to be such an "easy" hike that we left so much stuff home that we rarely used on a hike and of course that was the hike we needed all the stuff we didn't bring the most.
Went to the diner, everyone changed and got cleaned up in the restrooms, and pigged out like we never ate before.
Afterwards, Gemini headed on her long 10 hour drive home and Katie and I were dropping off Maple and Twignut at the Trenton Train Station where they'd meet up with Treebeard who was coming from Capn bobo's house to head back to Staten Island. Well of course, having the luck we'd been having, ran into road block after road block due to Puerto Rican Festival. Just what we needed. We were stinky, dirty, wet, and just wanted to get home by this point. It took us about an hour to navigate through the back roads to finally find the street that the station was on... and then that street was blocked so we had to let them out on the corner where they'd have to walk the rest of the way. Made it home about an hour ago.
Random Thought: New Jersey people are the rudest people on Earth!
That is all.”
“pics to come... gemini and mapleleaf took the pictures”
“Hey, I resemble that remark. Sorry you had such a bad experience in my wonderful state. I took some night pictures down at the lower forge in june. I also had some strange lights in them, but didn't think anything until you mentioned it. I went solo, and the mind can definitly play tricks on you. It can be a mental chalange to be alone with all those thought going through your head. There are a lot of wild pheasant in the Pine Barrens, that become active at night. I had two calling back and forth to each other all night, sounded like they were 10 feet from the tent. I almost freaked out until I told myself to shut up and go to sleep. I bet the pheasant were curious about you, and came into your site to check you out. Anyway, sorry again, I hope this doesn't deter you from joining Phantom in Nov. I'll bring my Jersey Devil pepper spray just in case lol.”
“no no no ... we had a blast! despite the minor occasions lol.
i am hoping it was just pheasants that were at our tents.
there were strange lights in the trees... of course it was only when they took pics of me. i'm hexed.”
Are you sure you didn't eat the tequilla worm???
A real oucher, even the rain sounded painful! May I ask you a few questions grasshopper?
- Did you consider boiling water if your filters were broken?
- Do you have a silt stopper attached to your filter(s)?
- Were you wearing two pairs of socks?
Geez, we just went for a dayhike along the Pennypack Creek to work up a good sweat and then jumped in the cement pond and got sloppy drunk. Oh, and had a great BBQ and walked up to the car show last night.
Wish you were there!”
Private Chik Only Trip
“Shouldn't this be posted in the 'Women's Pages' forum at Backpacker.com?”
“Naw... these Chiks belong to thebackpacker!”
“Obviously, all went wrong because I wasn't there. I even went out and bought a sports bra to swim in but Katie still wouldn't let me go.”
“Hey Bearmagnet, do you think if you and I go on a trip together we'd be asking for trouble?”
“Maybe we should find out? I would relish a little trouble. Of course, I would really enjoy these chicktrip chicks along to ensure trouble.”
Bobo, to answer ur questions:
~Yes, but by that time we didn't need the water.
~ It wasn't my filter so I don't know. Mine was left at home. Katie and Gemini had theirs.
~ Last time I wore 2 pairs of socks my damn feet sweat too much! And since it was 95+ degrees out, I opted not to.”
“I plan on getting new boots this weekend. Wanna take a trip to REI, bobo?”
“I went to REI a few months back, I came out $600 in the hole... I already had 4 backpacks, 3 sleeping bags, two tents, I can’t help it, when I get in there I have absolutely no restraint!!!...”
“The only time I've been to REI it was closed : (
In fact, I think Calmwater has a picture of me sitting underneath the sign fake crying.”
“I plan on getting new boots this weekend. Wanna take a trip to REI, bobo?"
Sure, lemme know what day. I need to pick up supplies for HIKE MAINE!!!
I really think you should try to wear two pairs of socks, It's always helped me with blisters (IMHO).
Gemini - didn't we have this chat on the Keystone BPing Trip,
Dees Teekit ees Kahpoot!!!
I thought we discussed this, what did you do wrong???”
“Under Armor makes a great pair of socks/sock liners. Ultra wicking, and so thin, it's like wearing only one pair when worn with smart wool or other hiking socks.”
“I do have liners that I've worn before, but still managed to get blisters. I really just need a good pair of boots to go along with the sockies.
Bobo, what about Saturday afternoon?”
“We thought we were so close to camp that we drank the rest of our water and basically had none left... not a good thing in this kind of heat/humidity.
Always drink your water if you need to. All too often hikers are found suffering from dehydration when they are carrying a half-liter of water or more.”
“Bobo, what about Saturday afternoon?"
That was yesterday, Scorchypoo!!!
“Bobo, can you pick me up a large bping skillet. I need something for cooking Yam and eggs?”
“I don't think you can get a skillet that big! We should mash her!!!”
“In that case my old aluminum pot should work.”
“Unless we chop her up into little bits!
(shouldn't we be taking this over to the yam is a DORK thread ?!?)”
“I guess we probably should. Sorry Scorchfire.”
“Nice trip report; sounds like y'all had a good time. It looks like I'm going to have to change my November Pine Barrens trip to be called Revenge on the Jersey Devil... :) I can't wait to go in November -- maybe by then the bugs will be all gone.
OMG, Gemini, I can't believe you dissed us on the Loyal-SOAK to go to the Pine Barrens. Girl, what's wrong with you? ;) Anywhoo, you missed an Epic soaking unlike anything experienced before (including LZ's Dix Range debacle earlier this year), and probably won't be for a very long time... TR to follow soon; I believe EarthNSky is in charge of that.”
“Oh, and no picking on New Jersey!!! Only those of us who actually live here are allowed to do that... ;)”
“I want pictures of those ugly blisters.
Maybe not a good trip....but a good trip report though.
I can't stand heat and bugs....that's why I only backpack in the fall, winter and spring.”
“Anywhoo, you missed an Epic soaking unlike anything experienced before (including LZ's Dix Range debacle earlier this year), and probably won't be for a very long time...
Missed it??? We were packing up in that epic soaking!!!! Looked like we jumped into the nearby lake fully clothed and then walked out of it and started hiking.
"Oh, and no picking on New Jersey!!! Only those of us who actually live here are allowed to do that... ;)"
Pssh... if you got treated the way we got treated in NJ you'd be saying that NJ people SUCK too : )
"I want pictures of those ugly blisters.
Mapleleaf took pictures of one of them, but it was before it was popped, so u can barely see it.
The trip was a blast... despite the blisters. If I didn't have blisters, I definitely would have kept going on the trail.. what's a little rain???
Normally I don't like backpacking in the heat but I was craving a trip real bad.”
“Oh, here's your pictures:
The first one you can see the big one on the pad of my foot and then there's a huge one on the pinky.
This one's hard to see.. u can see the huge one on the pad and then another one on the side.
I didn't take pictures of the other smaller ones cause I'm running late for work right now!”
“What about that blister on yer.. ah,.. nevermind.
If Mr. Soul wasn't accounted for on the Loyalsoaker trip, I would've bet that he was the one following you in the Pines, making wierd noises and scratching at the head of your tent!”
“...(including LZ's Dix Range debacle earlier this year)...
Actually the main reason we bailed on that trip was because the herd path goes straight up the 800+' bare rock slab of the Great Slide on East Dix. A 33* wet rock slab isn't safe to climb.”
“Nice TR, SCorchy! Here's mine from this weeekend's Bobo excursion:
Went out there Saturday morning. Yes, we had the humidity and hot temps, too. But, we deided that a three mile hike would be sufficient. Loaded up with about a gallon of the infamous Bobo "TNT", we set out through the Pennyback Creek trails. After sweating bullets (and Wild Turkey) on a hot afternoon, we headed for the pool, which I am glad to say wasn't loaded with silt and we didn't have to drink it. We went into the pool and didn't come out for a long time (except to exchange an empty drink for a full one). Geobeet came over later as well as Billy, one of Bobo's people. We swam, ate an incredible BBQ and fell asleep watching the Nathan's Coney Island hot dog eating contest replay. That's it in a nutshell. You whould have joined us! No pics! The papparazzi were not allowed!”
“Hey girls! Thanks so much for inviting me on your adventure.
I really did think that going into this that it was some sort of TT initiation rite I had to get through before I could start posting. And I guess I was right! The only thing missing was the walk across burning coals and a sacrafice (do they come on the next trip or am I in now?).
Even with the heat, bugs, rain, and my face disappearing from Maple's photos, it was a fabulous trip :)
Hope to meet up with y'all soon again!”
“Well, we'll just call you Rock Slide Slim, zac.
Gee, I'm real sorry I didn't go and get soaked.
That's what ya get for havin' a private trip.”
“Didn't you boys have some papparazzi pizza?
And what have you girls done with Gemini?”
“We ate sirloin, Mark-O, not pizza!”
“Si, Sir Loin!
ScorchO, I have worn two pair of socks since the early '70s, but not the same two pair.
I wear heavy wool/Thorlo and a liner at any time of the year.
I don't know about you, but my feet don't sweat any more than they would with just one pair.
The thick layer protects the feet from friction and I rarely get blisters.....only between big and index toes on really rough or long downhill hikes such as the Grand Canyon.”
Weekend at Bobo's
“Adding to treebeard's report, it was a blast. Bobo did not fall out of his chair, which, considering his condition, was either a miracle or a case of bolting the chair down. The pool was fantastic, and the food great (although not of the same quality as his baked salmon, which raises large questions that will be answered when I have dinner at Otto's and ask for baked salmon).
The pool was very refreshing on a hot, muggy day. The company superb.
Late in the evening we went to the Hatboro car show. We stayed until the entrants revved up their unmuffled engines, to the delight of Bobo who began yelling at the drivers to let it rip.
It was good to finally meet Giselle, the poor woman. We should set up a TT prayer tree for her, or maybe a group hug, to help her in her mission of raising up Bobo. It may be true that other women have problem children, but Bobo is a special case. She needs our prayers.
Also good meeting Billy. How he kept his ciggies dry with Bobo splashing water over a three-mile radius is beyond my comprehension.”
Note to the ladies
“You stand a better chance of messing with Texas and living to tell about it than messing with the Jersey Devil.
The howls were either coyotes, or feral dogs. The pinelands have populations of both.”
“Maybe we should call into Pat Robberson's TV show and ask for special blessings for the poor girl.”
Giselle, That Is....
Gee, that's nice!”
“LMAO! Yup, Giselle should be considered for Sainthood! Wow, did I get hammered, it must have been the heat (or perhaps the San Miguel)! I am normally a very sophisticated, reserved kind of guy, I guess I was soo excited to have you guys come over, I just couldn't contain myself!
p.s. Geo- thanks for giving Wilbur a ride home and I've got your bug spray!
I'm not even going to get into the "food not of the same quality" - that was garden-picked grilled veggies you were eating!
2004 Ithaca TT Cookoff Champion”
“".......I just couldn't contain myself!"
Wudge ya do, barf?”
“got a call last night around 10:00pm from gemini. She drove right into Tropical Storm ALICE. she had to get off the road and went to her sister in law's house. hope she got home ok.
we had a fun ride on the train going home. good news is twignut is still talking to me and is not longer cursing me :)
notes: I am selling all my backpacking gear. I am going to buy more gear for my kayaks. I will no longer hike in that kind of weather ever again. I truly thought I was going to passout. i was so worried about twignut (who lived up to her nick name Pissyhiker)
she has big problems with tap water and I was so sorried about her not drinking enough. But she did it and will never do it again LOL
note: I HATE EVERYTHING ABOUT NEW JERSEY (well except the rivers cause they ROCK)
I never met so many rude people. after the girls dropped us off at the station, I was walking past a cop. I told him in a joking matter that they should post directions to the station for out of town guest. This dude copped the biggest attitude with me. "I have nothing to do with that, I am only here to deal with the parade" well at that point I was pretty much done with these nasty asss people. I told him "I dont give sh^t who you work for, you were the first cop I saw and I wanted to b^tch"
witht that I turned on my heels and boogied to the train station.
This trip was cursed from the get go.”
“Wudge ya do, barf?"
Is that why the food was not of the same quality as Ithaca?”
“No barfing, just major inebriation.
I know how to hold my liquor!
“Bobo may have been blasted, but he didn't barf while I was there.
Seriously, that was one fine feed.”
“These are what I call “Child baring trips”. The pain is so bad when it’s going on but later you forget all about it and only remember the good parts. My buddy Larry and I did a short trip that is usually really easy but it was the first really hot weekend where it was 80 degrees and humid as all get out when it should be in the 60s. We did 10 miles so we could get to a really sweet spot. We trudged and trudged all day. 10 miles isn’t that much and should have been a really easy day but the heat and humidity (and bugs) just made the hike brutal. We got to the sweet site and someone was already there. We were fuct because there were no good spots to camp near it. We ended up camping in a wet grassy spot that sucked ass.
These are the trips that make the good ones all the better.”
“No barfing, just major inebriation.
I know how to hold my liquor!
That is true. He had his mitt wrapped around the bottle!”
“Bobo is the first person I have met who can drink and dive with no ill effects.”
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