thru hike prep: August

The entire month of August slipped by without an update. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t busy training!

I’ve upped my distance in the past month – I regularly did roughly 9 miles throughout the month of August, hiking at Belleplain State Forest and in Wharton again. I completed the Mullica River Trail (the yellow trail on this map), which was a goal I’d set for the month. There’s a pretty good description of the trail here – this site describes it as “Moderate to Strenuous,” which I scoffed out before setting out – what trails in the Pine Barrens are strenuous?! Oh. This one. The first 6 to 6.5 miles were gorgeous, and we noted that each mile looked different than the last, moving through bogs, cedar stands, and plenty of pine-and-oak mix. We stopped around 5 miles in and had lunch – I broke out the BioLite Stove that Karen gave me for my birthday last year, and we cooked up some chicken sausages using Light My Fire’s Grandpa’s FireForks, for what was probably the easiest camping meal I’ve ever made. The BioLite cooled off and was ready for repacking within 20 minutes of the fire going out – I was pretty impressed.

The last 3 miles or so were a different story – primarily on the soft sand roads that the Pine Barrens are so well known for, the hike was still beautiful, but much more difficult. Imagine hiking on the beach well above the high tide line for 3 miles with a full loaded pack – only there’s no water in sight! It was a rough go for the last stretch, and there was even some rerouting of the trail, so we ended up on some of the old roads behind Batsto Village. I managed to empty my hydration pack just as we entered Batsto Village; fortunately the awesome hot dog guy that usually appears in the Batsto Village Visitor Center parking lot was there, so we were able to refresh with some extra water and an ice cold root beer. That guy is awesome.

I also hiked a section of the Batona from Route 679 to Buttonwood Camp that was marked at about 8.5 miles, but actually ended up being close to 10 miles. The last mile or so was a connector trail that took us off the Batona – this was fine, except that it was absolutely drenched in spiders! Every three feet or so, we had to stop and disentangle ourselves from a giant web. At one point, I didn’t spot the web until it was literally in my face – spider included. I jumped and yelled so loud just from being startled by the feeling that I scared Don, who was a few feet behind me.

This weekend, Andy and I are setting out to do something like 11-12 miles along the Batona, from Buttonwood Camp up to Quaker Bridge, which is roughly five miles back into the woods beyond the Atsion Ranger station. My friend Lynn, who is a triathlete, is going to brave the woods with us for the day – it’s going to be an awesome day!

Tonight I’ll post an update to the mapping page with distances between landmarks and some info about the campsites we’ll be at in October. In the meantime, enjoy some pictures from our August adventures – and visit my event page to donate to support us in October!

somewhere along the Batona
beaver pond
Beaver Pond
bed o moss
Again, somewhere along the Batona
fire forks
Using the BioLite and FireForks!
snake friend at belleplain
sunrise on the way to belleplain
Sunrise on the way to Belleplain
turtle friend outside batsto
Making friends on the way to Batsto

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