Planes crawled across the sky over Franklin Township, travelling to and fro Newark Liberty International Airport. I walked on the path cut into the grassland and encountered ice and swamp-like mud. I slipped and slid, twisted and hurt something in my right foot. But I didn't know that at the time. Just a lingering feeling that I had overdone it. That something wasn't right.
While perusing the REI online store, I learned about the Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve. I was checking out the sales items and saw a link for the REI Hiking Project. Thirty minutes later, I downloaded the Hiking Project app and looked at a list of nearby possibilities for a hike. I decided to try the Griggstown Native Grassland because it was close to home. A grassland hike would differ from my usual hikes in the Sourland Mountain Preserve.
I rented a Fujinon XF27mmF2.8 pancake lens for a weekend trip to visit my brother in Charlotte, North Carolina. We had to postpone our plans, and while I could cancel my flight and hotel booking, I forgot about the lens rental. I felt I had to get some value from the lens, so I put it on my Fuji X-T2 and brought it with me on my hike. With a ~41mm full-frame sensor equivalent field of view, the XF27mmF2.8 provides a field of view roughly equal to that of the human eye. The photos would give a "Khürt's Eye View" of the hike on this hike.
I drove along Canal Road, and despite using Google Maps, I almost missed the preserve entrance. The entrance is via a narrow dirt road that winds its way around the trailhead. Hikers have parked two other cars. I grabbed my stuff and walked to the information shed to look for a map. I could not understand the map on the back of the shed.
I pulled out the Hiking Project app, which has GPS to pinpoint my location. One thing to note about using a GPS app on a smartphone. They are only accurate to about 50 feet. To increase accuracy, these apps often use cellular or Wi-Fi signals. The Hiking Project app uses the GPS information from my iPhone and the cellular signal to place my location on its preserve map. The hiking app won't accurately locate you on its map if you are in an area with a poor (or no) cellular signal. Your phone knows your coordinates, but the app does not.
I got some information about the two gentlemen preparing to hike in the preserve. There was a small Blue Trail and a larger Red Trail. I decided to take the Red Trail.
The trails are not well marked. I walked across the wide grassland trail and felt a sense of openness. This is rare here in New Jersey. I walked across a bridge and around a path that took me to an abandoned shipping container. Ironically the words, Evergreen, were printed on the side. I continued walking and realised that I had just walked in a circle.
Remember what I wrote earlier about GPS and cellular signals? I consulted the Hiking Project app and realised I had walked off the trail. I walked back across the bridge and re-entered the trail. This part of the trail was very wet, soggy, and muddy. It didn't help that the trail path was cut through the grass. I was walking on wet grass on top of damp soil.
I walked up this hill, slippery from water frozen into shoe prints leftover from another hiker. At the top was a park bench, and I stopped for a moment to take in the Sourland Mountain Range view. It looked so small in the distance.
I consulted the Hiking Project app and realised I was almost done with the red trail. Ahead across large patches of ice, lay the path to the Orange Trail. I slid my way across, slowly crawling to the other side. The path ahead was again soggy and wet. Arriving at the fork in the trail to start the orange trail, I saw even more ice and wet, muddy areas. I reconsidered my options. Take the exit path back to the trailhead or complete the orange trail. I decided I had had enough and took the route back to the car.
It was 3:30 AM when I uploaded these photos. I was in pain. I couldn't get to sleep because of the intensity of the pain. I uploaded the images, posted a link on Frank's website's comments section, and went back to bed. This morning my wife took me to the doctor. I had a sprained tendon and will wear a boot for a few weeks while my foot heals.