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Yummy Monday: Take A Hike & Bring Snacks

I cannot even contain the excitement I’m feeling over this amazing fall weather. It seems like we get short-changed year after year and it turns from summer to winter without even a hint of that crisp fall awesomeness I remember from growing up. Fall 2011 is completely making up for previous years’ disappointments.

Since getting together, Justin and I like to pretend that we’re hikers. I mean, we definitely love to go hiking, but we’re not full-on trekkers with all the gear, knowledge, and safe practices. I think I nearly die every time we go out (or at least injure myself one way or another). Neither of us are a good judge of direction or distance, and we only sort of understand map basics. Oh well, we do it anyway. Actually, this practice of throwing caution to the wind is pretty much how we approach every adventure. That’s what makes it adventure, right?

So on Saturday, we hijacked my little sister’s trip to the Pine Barrens for our first hiking excursion of the season. The fact that my sister (who I think of more of an “inside person”) is planning any type of outdoor event anywhere is pretty amazing. Her open water experience is mostly inflatable pool related and I think yesterday was only her second time in the woods (the first being last weekend). This was a big deal. I needed to jump on board.

There were six of us – Justin, Baby Summer, my sister, Leah, her two friends, and me (plus two dogs that – during the course of the hike – got us in trouble with the police and drank too much cedar water causing a not-so-pleasant situation). They followed us to Atsion Ranger Station at Quakerbridge Road & Route 206, and we jumped on the Mullicah River Trail, leaving any kind of plans behind.

I freakin’ love these woods. Fresh air, the smell of pines and cedar water, sandy soil that’s AMAZING for a good leg workout – it’s all good. The history of this wilderness is so amazing with the stories of the Jersey Devil, the Pineys who call the woods home, and the incredibly diverse eco-system.

Justin and I are so desperate to make the Pinelands our permanent home that we searched for properties specifically located within its borders. The house we finally chose just touches the northern end of the state-designated area, but we’re happy just to get a glimpse of it from our property line. An old cranberry bog (the Pinelands are home to every cranberry bog in the state of New Jersey) lies to the back of our woods – we can’t wait to explore it.

We covered about 2 miles of the Mullicah River Trail, cut over to the Batona Trail via the Quakerbridge Roadd/Beaver Pond Trail, and followed Quakerbridge Road back to our cars. All in all, we hiked about 8.5 miles with baby and dogs in tow. I thought I was back in shape, but lugging Summer in her Queen-of-Sheba backpack carrier for most of the hike was a little more than my legs could handle. I literally hobbled the last mile, cradling her in my arms, nursing her as she slept. I’m lucky that I wasn’t completely laid out the next day. Lesson: when it hurts, stop.

The day ended with a old-school New Jersey foodie experience at the Red Lion Diner on Route 206… I had an omelet and baked yam, and Leah and Justin drank beers and shared onion rings. Summer had her first taste of pumpkin pie a la mode – perfect for the season.

Plans were made for a near-future camping trip back to our favorite wilderness campsite (this will be Leah’s first) and a date to scale Mt. Tammany at the Delaware Water Gap.

Days like this make me so grateful that I have the good health to enjoy them. This is what I live for – this is why I stay fit. Life is better enjoying what you love with people you love.

Here’s a video of our hike and my favorite snacks to bring along…
Have a Yummy Monday! Now get outside and play!!

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