7/14 & 7/15: Fairview Lake to Glen Anderson Shelter Campsite to High Point Shelter Site

  • 7/14: Miles 1312.8-1327.7 (14.9 mi.)
    Ascent: 2293′; descent 2474′
  • 7/15: Miles 1327.7-1340.7 (13.0 mi.)
    Ascent: 2051′; descent: 2073′

When traveling, I want to have experiences that are quintessentially “of” that place. I’m convinced that any stranger tuning into my life yesterday would be place me in New Jersey.

To resupply and to refill our spirits, we stopped at Gyp’s Tavern, a linoleum-floor, cash-only place that sits on a lake. Already at the bar chatting up the bartender was a man with a salt-and-pepper beard who exclusively referred to himself as “Jersey Johnnie.”

Jersey Johnnie told us at fast-forward pace about his former life as a teacher and his new one as a travel-comedy YouTube personality. He had opinions on just about every possible matter of opinion: politics, sports (“Who the hell follows the Jets?”), beer (“New Yorkers don’t know how to brew”), mustard (“It really needs some horseradish in it”). For every place that came up in conversation, he had a more outrageous story than the last.

It really is too bad we didn’t ask him to say what we’d been quoting to each other since the New Jersey line: “I’m walkin’ here!”

Jersey Johnnie guessed Rachel and I were from the Midwest by the fact that we asked the bartender whether we could use an electrical outlet before plugging in our phones. We talked about the water (which really is better in the Midwest) and the heavily dressed bratwurst and fries (which aren’t) we ordered before turning to our latest hardship: mosquitos.

According to Jersey Johnnie, the mosquitos of New Jersey aren’t fooled by DEET, not even out 100% formulation. He gave us (in exchange for following his YouTube channel) a bottle of Picardin — which is useless in Missouri — out of his car.

Rather than test his theory on the bar’s patio, we enjoyed Gyp’s air conditioning while we could. On the recommendation of Jersey Johnnie, I ordered a second drink: a coffee PBR, which, as promised, tasted like an adult milk shake. Aside from the PBR, everything we ate and drank was made within 40 miles of Gyp’s.

Venue considered, our resupply was varied and inexpensive. We bought enough snacks and dry goods to get us to Unionville, our first city in New York, and paid our tab. On the way out, we stopped by a deli for a dinner sub (Are they subs, hoagies, grinders, or something else in New Jersey?) and cold tea.

Where we camped four miles north of Culver’s Gap, where we found Gyp’s and the deli, so did everyone else we saw in town that day. Unlike everyone else, we spent the heat of the day indoors but left in time to reach camp before dark.

Our first-mover prize was a flat, tree-covered site equidistant between the shelter and the stream. We collected water, ate our subs, and went to bed before the last stragglers made it to camp. For the second time in two days, we were asleep before the sun set.

Today, I thought it inhumane to get Rachel up when I woke at 4:50 a.m., so I listened to the insects and birds until 6 a.m., when my bladder pulled the fire alarm. It was a cooler-than-average morning, which often foreshadows a cooler day but did not today. Had it not rained in the late afternoon, dropping both the temperature and mosquito-to-us ratio, we would have baked alive in our bug nets.

Probably because of the heat, we found a water cache left by locals not long before making camp. Because we didn’t need to find and filter water — oak pollen turns it golden-brown this time of year, so Jersey Johnnie drinks bottled — we had time for a brief detour to New Jersey’s highest point (creatively called “High Point.”)

High Point was, Rachel and I agreed, the best view we’ve seen since the Triple Crown of Virginia. Although it’s not impressive in the context of New Hampshire and Tennessee, it was magnificent in comparison to Pennsylvania. Still, the hot, humid weather made it too hazy to see many peaks listed on the view guide. A drone buzzed overhead, reminding me of my recent run-in with stinging insects.

Following the detour back toward our campsite tonight, we resisted the urge to stop by the beach and snack bar (having snack-stopped at the state park office just a mile prior). At camp, we snagged our first creekside site in New Jersey and perhaps of the month.

While doing laundry by the stream (not in it, to avoid contaminating a water source), we met and discussed charter schools with a special-ed math teacher from New York. Afterward, I called Will, with whom we hashed out a plan to meet up for a few days’ hike in New Hampshire.

Next stop, a bagel shop and general store in Unionville. Would Jersey Johnnie be proud, or would he be upset we didn’t get a New Jersey bagel — the original and best, he claims — instead? If New York can have the Giants and the Jet (another sister-state frustration of his), then maybe he can have it both ways, too.

By Bob

Bob is a newly married word herder who's gone looking for himself where anyone who knows him would: in the mountains and around the campfires of America's greatest trail.