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  1. #1
    silentorpheus's Avatar
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    8th Annual NJ Thanksgiving Turkey Trek - Trip Report

    I was reminded that we didn’t post a trip report!

    Year 8 we decided to go back to basics, and revived the Turkey Trek concept – this all started as a toss together backpacking trip after all, and morphed over the years into a large scale production. However with the NJ Fall Hang earlier in the month, we didn’t have time or energy to plan multiple large scale hangs in the same month.

    NJRedneck, his son, and I met up around noon at Atsion, and took the drive back into the woods to make a supply drop. Had to clear a downed branch on the road, but otherwise it was a quick trip in and out. Left a car with a cooler, firewood, and my main backpack (kept my hammock and a few other things in a daypack) and headed down to Batsto to grab the permit and hike in. We got on the trail around 1:30 I think, and headed in. They finally repaired the bridge that’s been out for a few years now, so we took the original yellow trail instead of roadwalking the detour.

    Treefrog let us know he was starting towards camp from the Atsion, so we figured we’d meet him in camp (expected he might beat us actually). NJR and I planned to take a leisurely pace, so his son - henceforth referred to as “Wrongtrail” (more on that later) - pressed on ahead and we told him we’d meet him in camp. We actually kept a pretty good pace, and made the 4+ miles in around an hour and a half.

    As we rolled into camp a touch after 3, there was no one there. Cell signal was spotty at best, but we had no messages. We saw movement across camp and thought maybe Wrongtrail went to the wrong site, but it turned out to be Treefrog arriving from the North. NJR and I set up our hammocks while we had light, and then he set out to look for his son, since he had a pretty good idea of where he might have gotten off the trail (we almost missed the marker ourselves).

    I was about to make the trek up to the supply drop to bring down a cart load when Brock and Cranky came into camp. Said hi, then set off up the trail, loaded a cart with a few things (including a bundle of dry wood, thank goodness), donned my pack, and headed back to camp. I rolled in as it was starting to get darker, and heard someone call my name. There, across the bend in the river from camp, was Wrongtrail! Turns out he had in fact missed the turn that we suspected, kept walking for a while, then realized that he wasn’t on the correct trail but at that point he could tell on his phone gps that he was near camp so did a little bushwhacking, which put him at camp … but on the other side of the Mullica. He decided that the best course of action was to try and find the shallowest part of the river (best guess in the fading light, and murky cedar water), put his pack over his head, and try to ford the river. We got a fire going first using the wood I brought, and he made his attempt. Water came up to his sternum at one point, but he managed to get across without actually swimming (and some coaching and encouragement from Treefrog), his pack stayed dry, and then he went to change clothes and warm up by the fire. Someone had shot a text to NJR, not knowing whether it would get through in a timely fashion, and eventually he came back into camp. He had figured out where Wrongtrail had taken the wrong trail, but in the fading light knew that he wasn’t going to be able to find him in the dark – and since he knew that his son had everything he needed to set up camp and be fine for the night, he headed back with the intention of setting out bright and early in the morning to find him. He got the text on the way back, and in the end all was well, for that particular adventure.

    Another supply run was made to get more firewood, and we settled in for the evening. We cooked some food, and relaxed chatting around the fire. At some point a couple passed by on their way into camp, sounding like they were a little lost in the dark. We asked what they were looking for, and they were in search of site 2. Treefrog was kind enough to show them where it was in the dark – they let him know that they had set out at around 4 and that the ‘woods had got the better of them’ as it was around 9. The man had a large military style pack and was carrying a cooler, and the woman was carrying an armful of blankets. Not all that surprising a sight in the Pine Barrens, but we suspect that had a chilly night.

    Eventually we hit the hammocks. The wind that had been blowing strong most of the day had died down, and the low that night was clocked in the mid 20s, with a nice clear sky. We had sent a text to Ratdog who suggested he would be out that night, but we didn’t see him before we went to sleep, and for once we didn’t wake up to find him in camp.

    Day two was a lazy one, spent lounging around for the first half. Treefrog headed out after coffee, mid-morning, as he had something else to tend to on Saturday. At some point Fallkniven and Monkey arrived (they took the short walk from the North parking area). Later that evening Glogg rolled into camp – can’t remember what time, but it was around sundown I think. Ratdog arrived a little later as well, though well after dark (then again ‘dark’ was around 4:45pm). Between the wood we brought and what we were able to gather, we had a roaring fire all night long. I cooked up everything we had brought along, and set it out for people to pick at – there was some steak, squash, shrimp, and potatoes/onions/peppers cooked in foil. Everyone ate their fill (that was second dinner for most since almost everyone had backpacking meals), and we hung out by the fire until we were all ready to sleep. Forecast was for rain overnight, and we all expected to break camp in the rain.

    We woke around 7 or 8 am, and found that the weather was still holding. Cranky and Brock had packed up and left early to beat the rain, and the rest of us packed up and hung around chatting. Drops finally started falling around 10am, which was our cue to make an exit. So we gathered everything and all hiked the ¾ mile North to the cars, loaded up (Glogg pushed on to Atsion where he had come in from), and headed out – a little damp, but at least all of our gear was dry.

    All in all, it was a relaxing weekend in the woods, with surprisingly decent weather right until the very end, and Thanksgiving year 8 came to a close with a few adventures but no one worse for it.

    See everyone next year!

  2. #2
    silentorpheus's Avatar
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    The new bridge:



    Home for the weekend:



    A few others:






  3. #3
    SilvrSurfr's Avatar
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    I'm an expert at getting lost in the Pine Barrens, but I can't even imagine how you get lost and end up on the other side of the Mullica River. Wrongtrail must have come out of the woods at Constable Bridge and made a left instead of a right?
    "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Ralph Waldo Emerson

  4. #4
    silentorpheus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilvrSurfr View Post
    I'm an expert at getting lost in the Pine Barrens, but I can't even imagine how you get lost and end up on the other side of the Mullica River. Wrongtrail must have come out of the woods at Constable Bridge and made a left instead of a right?
    Pretty much. Since none of us have taken that route in years, it was disorienting. NJR and I came out and had to do a double take before we figured it out - luckily there was a car parked on the bridge at the time that we saw, so we knew that was Constable. But I'll admit I lost my bearings for a minute because it doubles back before dumping you on the fire road there, so you feel a little turned around. I don't remember that (but it's been 3-4 years since I've been on that side of the bridge).

    Apparently he was walking for a while before he realized that there weren't any blazes, so he checked google maps or whatever, realized that he wasn't far from the camp, and headed in that direction - not realizing at the time that he was on the other side of the river.

    EDIT: looking at google maps, there are fire roads that run parallel to the Mullica on either side of the river from Constable until you get a little North of camp. So not a stretch to think you could be trucking along on the 'road' thinking you're headed in the right direction for a while before you realize that the river is on the wrong side of you, especially if you're not familiar.
    Last edited by silentorpheus; 12-10-2019 at 15:59.

  5. #5

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    Thanks for the TR! I've ben otherwise occupied for a while and have missed the fellowship in the pines. Happy to hear it was a good trip, I'd have enjoyed it. Sounds like a lost swimmer's PFD award may be the next Coup de grace de grub apron.

  6. #6
    SilvrSurfr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by silentorpheus View Post
    Since none of us have taken that route in years, it was disorienting. NJR and I came out and had to do a double take before we figured it out - luckily there was a car parked on the bridge at the time that we saw, so we knew that was Constable. But I'll admit I lost my bearings for a minute because it doubles back before dumping you on the fire road there, so you feel a little turned around. I don't remember that (but it's been 3-4 years since I've been on that side of the bridge).
    I think that new bridge was last wiped out in Hurricane Irene (August, 2011). Last time we were there had to be 5 years ago. I remember, since there was no bridge, we took off our socks and hiking boots and hiked across. But it was Thanksgiving, or some other cold-as-heck winter day, and our feet froze about half-way across the river. Bad idea.

    This new bridge looks kinda flimsy. Maybe they're using disposable bridges now.

    mullica.jpg
    Last edited by SilvrSurfr; 12-10-2019 at 23:13.
    "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Ralph Waldo Emerson

  7. #7
    SilvrSurfr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreatBigDave View Post
    Happy to hear it was a good trip, I'd have enjoyed it.
    You wouldn't have enjoyed it. There were no canoes to steal and stick in trees.
    "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Ralph Waldo Emerson

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by SilvrSurfr View Post
    You wouldn't have enjoyed it. There were no canoes to steal and stick in trees.
    That was not me. I did, however, enjoy (and encourage) watching that big red boat climb a tree.

  9. #9
    silentorpheus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilvrSurfr View Post
    I think that new bridge was last wiped out in Hurricane Irene (August, 2011). Last time we were there had to be 5 years ago. I remember, since there was no bridge, we took off our socks and hiking boots and hiked across. But it was Thanksgiving, or some other cold-as-heck winter day, and our feet froze about half-way across the river. Bad idea.

    This new bridge looks kinda flimsy. Maybe they're using disposable bridges now.

    mullica.jpg
    It's anchored on either end, and the bridge itself is made out of metal (the frame) and some sort of poly-wood as the decking. It's white but has faux wood grain like that synthetic stuff you can make decks and outdoor furniture out of. It was pretty solid feeling. Whatever - it served its purpose, and we got across just fine.

    On the first Thanksgiving hike, the bridge was already out, but the water level wasn't crazy and I seem to remember there was branches or other debris across the river just to the right of where the bridge is, that we were able to walk across. Though somehow I managed to get a foot in the water from what I recall!

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by SilvrSurfr View Post
    I think that new bridge was last wiped out in Hurricane Irene (August, 2011). Last time we were there had to be 5 years ago. I remember, since there was no bridge, we took off our socks and hiking boots and hiked across. But it was Thanksgiving, or some other cold-as-heck winter day, and our feet froze about half-way across the river. Bad idea.

    This new bridge looks kinda flimsy. Maybe they're using disposable bridges now.

    mullica.jpg
    Is the old bridge still there on the side of the river?

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