I met up with JollyGreen for a last-minute overnighter this weekend. This was the first time I met JollyGreen and he's a great guy - he may hold the record for most group hangs in different states: from NEHHA to MAHHA to Texas and maybe all points in between. He certainly gets out and about quite a bit.
Since he's never been to the Pine Barrens, and it's blueberry season, I suggested we go there. As we drove down in separate cars, we both saw off-and-on rain. After a brief shower, my car would show outside temps dropping from 92 to 84. It didn't rain while we hiked, but the cloud cover and the previous rain definitely helped cool off the hike to Lower Forge. As we approached the turnoff from the Batona Trail to Lower Forge, I saw a Jeep. "Car campers," I said to JollyGreen. "We're gonna have company."
We laughed at the cooler drag marks along the 1/3 mile road to the camp. When we got in sight of our campsite #4, we saw these huge tents at #5. It was our cooler dragging friends. After we set up camp, we took a dip in the Batsto River, then we went over to introduce ourselves. A "Where you from?" from JollyGreen revealed that these five boys was Pineys born and bred! We laughed about them dragging coolers, lawn chairs and massive tents so far and they offered us a cold Pabst Blue Ribbon. Later they made a campfire with store-bought firewood they dragged in. They made hot dogs and offered us some, so I didn't even have to cook my dehydrated meal. We partied with the Pineys and then I hit the hay and slept till 10 am.
In the morning I took a quick dip in the river, then we hit the trail. We didn't get far before we saw an impressive black rat snake - had to be over 5 ft. in length. JollyGreen and I fumbled for cameras, but I certainly didn't get a shot (my camera is officially dead). He looked like this:
There was no cloud cover on the hike out and it was hot as heck. We ate plenty of blueberries. We took a swim in some branch off the Mullica River, and the cool water was mighty fine. Fish started nibbling my ankles and legs and it sure as heck tickled.
A fine time in the woods with the good company of JollyGreen. I look forward to hiking and hanging with him again.