|The Batsto River|
Dave's initial suggestion was for a Pine Barrens hike, which suited me fine. The scenery would be very different from what we would have seen last time out on the Pennsylvania appalachian ridges, and wasn't very far from home. The final plan was for four of us to meet in Springfield near the Blue Route exit at 9am. I had to drop Grace at a one-day gymnastics camp, so I would be closer to 9:15.
Batsto Village, near Hammonton. The drive was uneventful, other than finding our way around a "bridge out" detour. We parked a little after 10:30am, and were ready to hike shortly before 11.
|Trail sign at Quaker Bridge|
The weather was as promised, clear and cool. There was a cold breeze pretty much all of the time, kicking up to a real wind in places. Fortunately, we were somewhat protected in the pine woods. The hissing sound of the wind through the tops of the pines would be a constant companion throughout the day though. As Leo noted at one point, the wind through winter pines and bare trees sounds different than wind through leafy trees, and I would agree with him.
The hiking was easy, with the ground being level as expected. A slight up or down slope here or there was the extent of the exertion, other than the pure miles we would cover. I did want to make sure I got a few geocache finds out of the way before I lost track of that, and managed to make three easy finds within the first couple of miles. It's a good thing that I wasn't planning on making too many caching stops though, because after the third cache I needed to replace a drained set of rechargeable batteries. I did so, only to find that the replacement set I had brought were also drained and had not been recharged. Oops. I had downloaded the Groundspeak iPhone geocaching app onto my Christmas present, but the reception was so spotty out in the woods that my geocaching day was effectively over almost before it began.
|Batsto Lake, behind the dam|
We had a chuckle when we got to the road at the Quaker Bridge crossing and realized what the map referred to as a named road was a dirt and sand road that was little better than some of the fire access roads the trail had crossed back in the woods. These "roads" were on maps and if you didn't know the area, you could very easily show up in a car and expect to be able to drive on them. Depending on the weather and depending on the vehicle, I wouldn't try it. My car would sink to the axles in the soft sand patches.
Batona trail section had been. On the east bank, we were generally on a hiking trail, crossing a number of fire access roads, but usually not following them. On the return loop on the west bank, we spent too much time on these dirt and sand roads, or right next to them. The scenery was still nice, but there is something about a trail vs a dirt road that makes a big difference in my mind.
|Batsto Lake, with clouds|