October 17, 2015

Friday Photos: Double Trouble


Over half a lifetime ago when a very young woman I discovered the pleasures of hiking, and ever since walking has remained a great joy. Overtaken by cycling, I still walk from time to time, though in a different fashion from my twenties.






Then, my preference was always to search out wilderness, those most wild places where the hand of man was least evident. Those days, I didn't worry about carrying 35 or 45 pounds on my back, walking 25 or more miles a day, climbing to passes high in the Rockies or Sierra. Those days, my friend Larry said to me: "Suze, you are the only person I know who thinks it is fun to walk uphill in the rain carrying a heavy pack." I laughed then, understanding what he meant. No longer!




Now I walk shorter distances, without the heavy pack, watching the light, paying attention to the mood.







Now when walking I often  seek out places where the human hand has left remnants of previous culture or use. These places are interesting, often beautiful, when originally  built in a conscious, deliberate, exacting way. They testify to the local history of the area. I find those places most often in France where its long rich history informs the landscape. Far more rarely, I find a mix of wild landscape marked by previous human use here at home.


Cycling. Walking. There is something about the rhythmic, repeated physical effort of putting one foot in front of the other, or pushing one pedal after the other, moving through time and space that if paid attention to,  is so incredibly pleasurable. Powered by my own energy, close to the sounds, smells, appearances of the world surrounding me, my mental state changes, somehow becoming more aware, more present, more open and relaxed. Certainly more focused on the exact place and moment. My head calms down, stops racing all over the place, stops trying to understand everything, every moment of experience. The cluttered, noisy, busy-ness of my every day world drops away, and it feels a different world, one I would like inhabit more often.




Adding a friend to a hike, or a ride, adds the possibility of conversation. Some of the most memorable conversations I have had with friends and family have been while walking. Somehow the rhythm of the walk, pace after pace, informs the rhythm of the conversation, which so naturally becomes comfortable, intimate. Topics wander, sometimes focusing on a discovery just at hand, a stream or a bird, sometimes morphing into the realm of ideas or philosophies.


But I ruminate. Last weekend was Columbus Day (I won't get into that nomenclature just now) which I traditionally spend with Larry,  who writes at Birds and Words, and Shari. When we get to see each other, Larry and I walk. Our paces are well matched, sometimes fast, sometimes lingering. Saturday afternoon we visited Double Trouble State Park, new to me. I expected to enjoy the walk, to see birds not common at home. I very much looked forward to another walk with him, another chance to visit, catch up on our lives. I did not expect to find the hand of man in the place, the human history, the beautiful patina. What I did find caught my attention, didn't let it go. My binoculars were over my shoulder, but not my camera. We returned the next morning to repeat the same two-mile walk,  when the light was low from the east, and my camera with me.



Located in the Pine barrens, the park at Double Trouble is built around an abandoned cranberry farm, with a sawmill, sorting house, and worker housing, not to mention a schoolhouse, store, and other buildings needed in a bustling, isolated, company town. The buildings seem to be in good shape, not derelict, almost as if waiting for a cranberry operation to start back up. It didn't feel like a museum, perhaps because of the presence of nature all about.




The bogs were shaped by the water of Cedar Creek, which was directed and organized for cultivating cranberries. Sometimes we could hear the water channeled underground to cross a roadway, sometimes water was crossed by bridges. It was always close by.







Cranberrries were cultivated there from the 1860s, but abandoned in the 20th century, and in the mid 1960s the state of New Jersey purchased the area to protect it. Then in 2012 the entire area was hit hard by hurricaine Sandy. This corduroy road is newly built, probably to clear out and clean up damage from the storm. Morning mist gave it an ephemeral quality.
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A tremendous effort must have been put in to restore hiking routes after the storm. They are now beautiful and offer excellent walking.






Together, all combined to  create an extraordinary experience .... the pleasures combined of walking, conversation, friendship, discovery, history, light. Truly a gift of a day!









8 comments:

  1. For the life of me I can't understand people who hike, bike, walk or run with headphones on. Safety issues aside they are missing the best part of the activity. The calming of the mind. The focus on the world in your immediate space. A dear friend has long referred to my 15 mile bike commute as my meditation. She's so right.

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    1. Well said! It's the closest to meditation that I get. Commuting to work is great ... I think about it, but don't do it. It's far, quite hilly and the last road is busy-fast. Enjoy yours!

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  2. Interesting to see a place so familiar to me through your eyes. Great pix bring back a great weekend.

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    1. It seems to me a real treasure of a place, glad you introduced me.

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  3. Lovely post, Suz. My husband and I often come upon abandoned farms, or signs of small logging communities from decades ago when we walk or paddle around Algonquin Park. I love this as much as the untouched wilderness. Old rock fences, fallen down log barns, even once a small cemetery with wooden crosses and fifteen graves of men killed one spring in the log drive. Your pictures are wonderful.

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    1. Thanks Susan, and it's great to learn you're "here." Your description of Algonquin got me curious, so I googled it ... beautiful!!! Years ago I spent 10 days in the Quetico, on a canoe trip. Great country!

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  4. It is kind of you to allow us to enjoy your walk as well even though we don't get the benefit of the company.

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    1. I certainly invite you to come for a walk! You would,I think, have fun with your camera in that park.

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