Jeremiah at Watchung
Jeremiah Cohn, Resident of Summit
My mom and I went on a walk today, from the Summit Train Station, through the Watchung Reservation, and back. Why did we go on this adventure, you may be asking? Well, we went on the adventure so we could observe and write about Matt Jensen’s new project, Park Wonder. On our walk, we discovered many interesting landmarks and experienced new landscapes in the backyard of North-Central New Jersey.
Our adventure started in the residential area of Summit. It was quite serene despite the cars and the occasional plane. However as we walked farther towards the hill which overlooks the Watchung Reservation, the bird chirps got louder and the air felt cleaner and more outdoorsy. We walked down an unmarked path and walked towards what we thought was a soccer field because that's what the instructions for the hike say to do. However, it didn’t really work out for us because it turns out we had went the wrong way on a fork in the path. So after about five minutes of walking in the wrong direction, we turned back and took the right side, which happened to actually be the RIGHT SIDE of the fork. After crossing a few logs and walking for about five minutes we came to a vine structure. These vines looked very strong and old. They were thick and seemed to be crawling up and then falling down the trees, to the point where they almost looked like trees themselves. Slightly past that after about two minutes more of walking we discovered overturned tree roots facing sideways. Matt Jensen says that tree roots are great places to find artifacts. However, we found none in these roots.
Finally, after exiting the unmarked path, we came across a roadway leading into the Watchung reservation parking lot. There was a lot of car traffic here so if you're walking this way please be careful. We crossed the street after about two minutes of waiting for cars to pass and ran into the Watchung Reservation parking lot on the left of a large soccer field where multiple kids-- and by multiple I mean hundreds of kids-- were playing soccer. Soon we saw a concrete barrier wall as described in the instructions for the Watchung reservation path, made by Matt Jensen. We turned right after seeing this wall and realized that the hiking trail was heavily blocked by a 12 or 13 foot tall wall of snow, old snow that was now turned to ice after many days of being thawed and refrozen. Me and my mom both had different approaches to bypassing the ice. My mom decided to try to go around the ice on the left side of the pile, closer to the barrier wall. Whilst me, being a child, I tried to climb over it. Both ways ended up effective and we reached the path, which was very muddy, at about the same time. We trotted up the path and followed it until we reached the highway border fence. We continued to walk and my mother made a comment about how much she hated mud, and also commented on how we have taken that highway many times and always wondered about the road behind it, which we were on now.
After trudging through the mud for about five minutes we came to a land bridge which connected the Watchung Forest and the little muddy road from the soccer field and parking lot. On this bridge was a lady who was releasing a pink foil balloon shaped like a heart and singing “Happy Birthday.” As we passed her we overheard her phone conversation and realized that she was singing happy birthday as a memorial for someone she had lost. With saddened hearts, we continued into the forest. After walking for not even five minutes longer we came to a tree with plenty of engravings in it from people over the last thirty years. The oldest we could see on the tree was from 1984--a really, really great artifact which amazed me because I didn't think anything that old was still around in nature. We continued along the trail, following the trees with one white square painted on them. The marked trail was fun and after a little while we came to a small stream which we stopped at because I was pretty tired. I sat down on the log that bridged two parts of the stream and sat there for a little bit with my mother.
Then I saw an insect crawling on me which I thought was a spider but turned out to be a tick. This deterred me slightly. We continued along the trail, passing a few more streams and lots of very interesting wildlife. Many times along this walk we crossed deer tracks and so many other animal tracks like dogs and, surprisingly, cat tracks. Additionally, we heard many types of bird calls and saw so many different root structures created by overturned trees.
Finally, after about an hour of walking in the forest, me and my mother got very tired and turned back. Our walk back was pretty quick. There weren't many eventful things that happened, but it was much more fun knowing what we were doing on our way back. If you plan on hiking this trail I would recommend definitely bringing bug spray, anything that can kill ticks. Also if it recently rained or snowed I would recommend definitely bringing mud boots because there's a lot of mud on the trail. All in all, the Watchung Reservation trail offers a really fun experience and was really enjoyable for me. Thank you for reading and I hope people try out trails for the Park Wonder project as well.