Camping in Worthington State Forest, New Jersey

Over the weekend, Erika and I went (car) camping with friends Pedro and Genny at Worthington State Forest campground. While it was pretty horribly cold (got down to 27 degrees on the first night!) we had a great time. We got ourselves together and left on Friday night, grabbing a Cracker Barrel dinner along the way. We arrived at the campground at around 10:30pm.

When we got there, someone else was in our (reserved) spot — pretty sure they were just squatting their way around without paying for any spots. Rather than deal with moving them, we told them they could stay, but had to be out tomorrow morning. We got our tents set up and I got a fire started to warm us up. It was pretty brutally cold that night, so we needed it! Since we were kind of amped to be there, we ended up staying up until about 1am around the fire chatting.

The next morning we got up and and had breakfast (bagels with cream cheese, lox and capers), made some lunch to have on the trail then set off on our hike. I picked up a copy of the Kittatinny Trails maps from the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference; they make really good quality maps (tyvek, waterproof/tear resistant, nice detail, topo) in advance so that we knew where we were going. Here’s the trail we took (snapped from Map 120 of that map series):

Worthington State Forest Hike

We stopped for lunch a little ways onto the Appalachian trail (the white section), and also took breaks at the intersection of Appalachian/Douglas, and at Sunfish Pond. Note the white “tail” to the right of Sunfish Pond? Yeah we overshot our turn-off and took a while before we believed it and turned around. Oops :) It was a really nice hike, with beautiful fall colors and some good elevation climb. The hike back down Garvey Springs (Orange) was pretty rough (steep), and we had a few ankle/knee complaints (because we’re old!)

I had Moves running most of the time, and according to it, we covered 20 km that day (all day, so includes a bit of stumbling around the campground). The camp spot we had (site 003) was pretty nice, although the fire ring was really tall, so it blocked a lot of the heat and light from the fire, which was annoying. I don’t think they bothered burying it at all. The grounds had nearby pit toilets, and there was a shower/sink block not too far away (which we just ended up driving to, since it was cold).

I’d really like to get back to this campground in the summer and check it out — maybe rent a canoe and try out one of the canoe-camping spots on one of the islands in the Delware River!

Camping on Angel Island

Over the Thanksgiving break, some friends and I went camping over on Angel Island, in the San Francisco Bay. It’s quite a unique experience, camping in amongst so much city/so many people, yet being so isolated. We caught a ferry from SF over to Tiburon*, and then another from there to Angel Island. Once on the island we checked in with the ranger, then backpacked (via North Ridge Trail) over to our spot (campsite #3, on the East Bay side of the island).

We were greeted with a pretty amazing view out over the East Bay, which continued all night as it remained clear and cold. The lights were thoroughly impressive and provided enough light for us to night-hike up to the top of Mt. Livermore (once our eyes had adjusted). The view from there was even more impressive, providing complete 360° views of the entire bay area.

Not having a fire there was pretty rough (only charcoal fires and camp stoves are allowed, due to fire hazard), so we had to have a nip of whiskey to keep us warm instead. We also got to see a few pretty big shooting stars while we were sitting out chatting at night.

In the morning we took our time to get up, enjoy some breakfast (more Thanksgiving leftovers!) and then hiked back down to Ayala Cover, where you catch the ferry. 2 ferry rides later and we were back in the city again.

*Note: During summer it would be much easier to just catch a ferry direct to Angel Island, but because it was off-season and the day after Thanksgiving, the ferries were running on holiday schedules, so we had to do it this way.