Jim, Sue, Cody, and Tater at Springer Mtn., start of the Appalachian Trail Adventure Run


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Runtrails' 2005 AT Journal
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Start: Dunnfield Cr. Natural Area, NJ                        
End:  Millbrook-Blairstown Rd.
Today's Miles:                      12.3
Cumulative Miles:          1,304.1
"A dream that you do not fight for will haunt you the rest of your life."
- from the movie "Robots" (in Rick Sandison's recent ultra list bio)

Scenic Sunfish Pond

View of Delaware River valley from Kittatinny Mountain Ridge    7-27-05

In case you're wondering, I skipped from Day 87 (Monday) to Day 89 (today) because there wasn't enough to write about on Day 88 (Tuesday). It was another rehab day, sitting and lying around with ice on all my sore body parts all day!

The record-breaking heat that has been plaguing the South, Midwest, and West moved to this area yesterday. Jim and I enjoyed the comfort of our air-conditioned camper all day and didn't go anywhere. Unfortunately, the heat and humidity were still here this morning and I had to deal  with it on the Trail.

After two chiropractic adjustments (second one this morning), massage, rest, near-zero mileage for three days, ice, stretching, more sleep at night, and naps during the day, I felt ready to hit the Trail again this morning. But I kept the mileage short because of the 10 AM appointment (didn't start hiking until 11AM) and to ease back into this running/hiking thing more gradually.

Jim dropped me off at the Dunnfield Creek trailhead and returned to Mountain Vista Campground near E. Stroudsburg, PA to get the camper and move it to our next home base near Branchville, NJ. We enjoyed our stay at the shady Mountain Vista CG but it seemed like we were "stuck" again, not making any forward progress. Although it's less work for Jim when we find someplace to stay for several days, it's psychologically demoralizing for both of us.


I had an initial gain of about 1,300 feet from the trailhead to the high point on top of Kittatinny Mountain, but it was a gradual climb over five miles. 

Part way up I met the only two thru-hikers I talked with today, "Turn Ankle" and her husband, "Stumper," a couple from Dahlonega, GA. Because they are hiking more slowly than they originally intended, they decided to skip from Harper's Ferry, WV to New Jersey so they can be sure to reach Katahdin before the snow flies. Then they'll return to finish MD and PA in the fall.

I'm impressed with "Turn Ankle's" courage to hike the Trail. She has fibromyalgia and her doctor advised her against the thru-hike. She's been coping with it well, considering the pain the affliction causes even with medication. And this week she has to do it sans meds because she left them at the last hostel. Those folks are mailing it to her somewhere up the Trail.

I am continually inspired by people out here who are battling more odds than me to complete this Trail.


Near the top of the climb was the psychological "high point" of this section for me: beautiful Sunfish Pond, which is really a good-sized lake. It is notable for being the most southern of the lakes on the AT which was scooped out by glaciers. A sign at the SW end of the lake said what kinds of fish live in the very acidic water but I don't remember what they were.

I do know there are a gazillion frogs that live there. The Trail skirts the northern edge of the lake for about half a mile. As I moved along the Trail ten frogs at a time would hop into the water when I'd get near them. It was fun to stop and watch them.

Many laurels grow along the lake. It would be even more beautiful when they are in bloom (fairly recently, as the browned blossoms were still clinging to the branches).

At the eastern end of the lake I was amused to find a dozen rock cairns on top of the rocks in a cove by the water, a few feet off the Trail. An enterprising person even built one out in the water! Hope all the hikers kept following white blazes and not rock cairns!

On top of the ridge there were real rock cairns marking the Trail where there were no trees close enough to mark. I loved the views several places along the ridge - north to the Delaware River valley and Pocono Mountains, and south to lakes and large homes on acreage.

The ridge was more open and breezy than most of the ridges the past few weeks (since the leaves have been out). The downside was more sun exposure on this very hot day when it was 95 degrees in the valley.

I was pleased all day with how remote the Trail felt. I couldn't hear road traffic below me, and crossed no busy roads. I never knew there was such wilderness in New Jersey! The first half of the section was in the Worthington State Forest, the second half in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreational Area.


Two-thirds of the way through this section I had the following conversation with myself:

Left brain: This is cool - today is my first full day in New Jersey. We're finally out of Pennsylvania!

Right brain: No, we're not.

Left brain: Of course we are. The AT map clearly says this is New Jersey.

Right brain: Your eyes see the same things they saw in Pennsylvania. Your feet say all these rocks are just like Pennsylvania. Therefore, this must still be Pennsylvania.

Left brain: I'm beginning to see your "logic." Maybe it is still Pennsylvania.


I'm not sure why I thought I'd lose the rocks as soon as I got into New Jersey. Horton's account and hikers' journals all mention the pointy rocks in New Jersey, so I wasn't really surprised. Just disappointed.

But despite the numerous rocks today (the worst was around the lake), I highly recommend this twelve-mile section for a hike. It's hard to run, but not impossible for rock-lovers. Sunfish Pond is beautiful, the views are very pretty, and the setting is serene most of the way. It feels like wilderness.

And the blueberries are ripe! They are tiny, but delicious:

I didn't see any bears but they are all around. Even in our new campground miles from the Trail we have bear warnings, just like in the Shenandoahs.


At one point near the end of the section I was hiking on a rocky ledge on the south side of the ridge overlooking the pastoral New Jersey valley toward Blairstown. It reminded me very strongly of running on "The Rims," the rimrocks surrounding our previous home of Billings, Montana. This ledge is higher up but the trail and view were very similar.

The last couple hours of the hike (still can't run) I was so hot I was hoping the predicted thunderstorms would hit. They did, but not until two minutes after I finished. While waiting for Jim to come find me I got drenched in the deluge. At least I got cool!

Poor Jim had another one of those lousy crew days when nothing went right with moving the camper. He was running late when I called to let him know I was about done. The new campground is much farther away than we thought it would be and the road near the rendezvous point was closed due to a washed-out bridge. Jim flagged down a cop to find a detour to reach me. I was more worried about him than me, wondering if he'd been in a wreck or something. We were very glad to see each other, knowing the other person was OK (he knew I was out there in the thunderstorm).

My knee and butt did fine while walking but running isn't possible yet. The chiropractor had several places to adjust again this morning, which was discouraging considering I didn't hike after the first adjustment on Monday. So it's more stretching, ice, and walking until I'm able to resume running.

And I hear there are more rocks in tomorrow's section anyway . . .

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

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2005 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil