Anyway, the drive in was lovely once I got off 295. I drove through the Princeton area briefly and then onto rolling hills and sleepy farms, which were the perfect setting for my Kenny Rogers, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings soundtrack. My excitement grew as I saw a high, green ridge in the distance.
Based on the recommendations of NJ Hiking, I opted for the "Ridge Trail," a 4.9 mile trail that's well marked with white, square blazes. The trail was rocky in almost all places, and after some spring rains, it was a bit muddy and even swampy in some parts--my boots proved to be waterproof on many occasions today! There are a few steep sections--some true huffer, puffers--but no actual scrambling is necessary. Boarded areas and small bridges are provided in some sections, but many times I was walking through muck. I came home rather splattered in dirt.
However, I did see a snake! For whatever reason, I've never in all my life seen a wild snake. When I got home, I looked up wild snakes in New Jersey, and I believe what I saw was a black rat snake (the picture below was not taken by me). Snakes give me the creeps--I wasn't scared necessarily because I knew it wasn't venomous (and even the few venomous snakes in New Jersey are rarely, if ever, deadly). However, this guy (probably about a foot and a half long) was right ahead of me on a rock that I had to pass by. But upon hearing me coming, he slithered under the rock. Nonetheless, I made a lot of noise as I stomped pass in hopes he would stay in his hiding place. Once I was well passed him, I was actually glad to have caught a glimpse. (UPDATE: I've since learned that snakes cannot hear. So much for that approach.)
|(The end of the Ridge Trail)|
This was a phenomenal way to start the spring hiking season, and since I forgot my camera (these pictures were taken by iPhone), I'll just have to go back sometime!