Back to the barrens

Aside from the creepy doll in the woods, my friend Kathy and I had a nice walk yesterday at Double Trouble State Park in the pine barrens. This is her place and I had asked her to show me around to her favorite spots so I might get to know the place better, without worrying that I would get lost there on my own. As I had mentioned in an earlier post about Double Trouble, the village in the park preserves an old saw mill and cranberry packing plant. The packing house is in the photo above. I was happy to see a few people picking cranberries in the dry bog, the way that it used to be done. The bogs here look quite different than the ones I visited at Whitesbog which had been flooded for harvesting. That telltale purple hue shouts cranberries even from afar.
A closeup view of the cranberry vines and fruit. I was struck by how much this *wetland* heath resembled its garden cousins. The leaves are leathery and evergreen and the flowers are bell-shaped with reflexed petals, reminding some of the shape of a crane’s head and neck. I sampled a few and they were tart! as expected.
The water in this irrigation ditch beside a bog that is no longer productive is not blue as the reflection of the sky makes it appear.
Instead, the water is tea-stained throughout Cedar Creek, a result of iron deposits in the water. Bog iron was mined from the streams and waterways of the piine barrens, as was the sand for glass-making and the trees for logging. The trails here are very quiet, with only a few dog walkers out at this time of year. I was hoping to see some ducks in the larger ponds, but didn’t find any. At one point along the trail we came upon a large group of robins with a few hermit thrushes feeding on the fruit of the many sour gum trees that grow beside the water. Kathy’s totem bird, the turkey vulture, was absent like the ducks. It’s an odd day that one doesn’t see a vulture over the barrens.
This exciting pic is an example of the sandy soil throughout the area. It is a wonder that anything is able to grow in it. Wildflowers are abundant here and I look forward to returning in the spring to search for them. The colors now are somewhat monotonous, greens and browns, with the occasional red huckleberry in the underbrush.
This last pic is Kathy’s secret swimming spot, during the warmer months, of course. The creek twists and turns and pools in places that invite swimming where the shore is shallow enough. I wish that I had a place that felt as remote as this closer to home. During our walk Kathy shared stories of the many hours she’s spent here, and of the friend who introduced her to this delightful place. I’m glad that she took the time to do so for me.

8 thoughts on “Back to the barrens”

  1. A nice interlude from the creepy hanging doll episode!

    I have heard that light colored water birds can get stained from iron in water. Wouldn’t it be neat to see a great egret, white on the top and red on the bottom?

    BTW, I saw the pic of you and Birdchick. I know that she is rather “diminutive”, but you look like you are really tall!
    And thin, too. You brat.

  2. Yea – I look like a goofy giant!

    Couldn’t wait to get a post up so that other picture would be out of view. Shouldn’t have posted it – too creepy!

    I’d never heard that about stains on their feathers, but it makes sense. Aren’t flamingoes that color because of something in their diet?

  3. The pine barrens look like a great place to go hiking around. We have a couple of similar areas like that up around here and they make a nice change from some of the other places we go.

  4. I love it when you take us to the barrens! Thank you! I can’t explain it, but I’ve loved these piney woods ever since I first saw them on the eastern end of Long Island as a kid.

  5. Bev: There is a quiet sort of beauty there.

    Thanks, Mary. Nice place to spend a few hours. I would have brought my dog along for the walk, but he gets tired very easily now that he’s getting older.

    Mojoman: One weekend soon I’m hoping to visit the pygmy pine forest there, but think it will be quite a hike in. I need to find a proper map.

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