Today, my friend Chris shared with me a link to David Mathre Backyard Springtime Nature in New Jersey web post. David lives in the area and has spent his time under “shelter-in-place” photographing the wildlife in his backyard. While my backyard faces the woods, it’s fenced off, but I occasionally see foxes, rabbits, and deer. I was especially fascinated by the birds David can photograph at his bird feeder. I have a bird feeder in the tree near my rear deck, but the feeder has a cage to discourage squirrels from eating the bird food. It makes photographing the birds challenging. Chris encouraged me to try sitting as still as possible and waiting for the birds to come to the tree. I had mixed success.
The sun was out, and there was an early summer breeze. Bhavna insisted we make use of the day. She wanted to go hiking. We decided to try a new trail, the Rocky Brook Trail, in East Amwell Township in the Sourland Mountain region of Hunterdon County. Our trailhead started at a section of Rocky Brook near CR 518 just west of Rambling Pines Camp but before Route 31.
The 2 km Rocky Brook trail follows a stone-studded tributary of the Stony Brook on the wooded southern flank of the Sourland Mountain Ridge, sometimes right by the stream and sometimes high above it. Before we left I had told Bhavna that the trail was short but it seems I misunderstood the trail map on the Sourland Conservancy. we didn’t realise how long we walked until we got to a fork in the trail where we encountered a man and his dog waiting. We stepped into the brush to be sure to provide two metres for him to get by safely.
Our late afternoon hike was loud and boisterous, filled with the sounds of birds and running water. The air was filled with the sweet odours of green negation. The gentle breezes brought the smells of whatever wildflowers were growing in the brush. We had kid-like fun crossing the Rocky Brook at the Stone Crossing.
While I intended to be fully present, I did stop to take photographs. There were times along the trail that I forget to take pictures, especially when I was entranced by the beautiful light filtering through the leaves of the canopy of ash, hickory, birch and maple trees or when we lost ourselves in quiet meditation while gazing at the gurgling water as it meandered around rocks and tree roots. There is so much natural beauty here, the kind of beauty that heals. We lost track of time, hiking, and talking and “being” and not thinking about how the world is on fire.
We continued until we got to the end of the trail at Snydertown Road. According to the Run Keeper app, we hiked 3.73 km including the round trip back on a portion of the Red Trail.
We discussed whether it would be appropriate to pack a backup with water and snacks, bring in two hiking chairs, and set up on the bank of the forest, and dip our feet into the cool stream water. I think I could do that for hours.