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Trip Recap: AT Day Wildlife Refuge

Thursday, October 18, 2012
Last August we celebrated the 75th anniversary of the completion of the Appalachian Trail. Splitting up, each of five groups hiked one South to North section of the trail starting at the Kittatiny Mountains in New Jersey and finishing at Harriman State Park in New York. One group hiked the section between Rt 284 and 94 in New Jersey. Led by Discover Outdoors guide Gary Lyon this is what they found.

We couldn't have had better conditions to do it in an certainly the route in Wawayanda Preserve, was one for the books. We hiked from the parking spot at route 284 and headed towards the end of our hike on route 94. In between lay roughly 11 miles (17.6 km) of hiking at a challenging pace but through a magnificent landscape. One seldom gets to hike through forest and through meadows and wetlands. We had all of this and a few bonuses to boot.

The weather was splendid, with very little humidity, deep blue and sunny skies and wispy clouds, to set off the dramatic landscape that lay before us. I have to say that I was excited before we even stepped of the road verge and entered the first thicket. There were flowers everywhere, everything was at its best and the ground was pulsing with life. we climbed a short hill and excited to an open field that led us to across a road to descend once again along the edge of a field and a line of trees covered in poison ivy and other creepers.

Our route deviated temporarily along a country road and then turned onto a grass track, lined with tall ragweeds, pokeweeds and numerous colourful flowers, that lined the edge of a wetland on the left and touched the banks of the Wall Kill River as it snaked nearby.

There were numerous water fowl in the water but without binoculars it was difficult to make them out. We then cut through a small forest along a boardwalk before heading across the road for the difficult part of the hike.

After forging up and down a series of steep hills, we descended to the Pochack Walkway or Boardwalk that wound through one of the prettiest wetlands you can imagine. There were flowers everywhere and tall phragmites reeds and cattails on either side. Painted sliders (turtles) sat on the logs in the water that was bright green with duckweed. The flowers were in carpets of yellow and purple with the odd white arrowleaf poking its head out. We wondered in delight along the boardwalk before crossing a branch of the Wawayanda River at a tall suspension bridge that looked like a local scout jamboree project.

We finally made our destination at precisely three pm, and headed off to the Echo Lake Stables, where we finished the day with a great barbecue and some cold beers.

Submitted by Gary Lyon.