Two Down…

Only forty-eight high peaks to go.

Last summer’s feat was a grueling hike up the Saddle Trail on Mt. Katahdin with my one and only brother, S.B. Katahdin is the last peak on the Appalachian Trail and, honestly, it’s a wonder anyone ever finishes with a climb like that right at the end of two thousand miles of walking. We left Bangor, ME at 4:30 am, hiked for nine hours, ate what seemed like a box of Clif bars, nearly wore out two pairs of sturdy hiking boots, and endured what must have been the greatest concentration of rain on the face of the earth since God put a megaphone to his lips and said, “Noah. My friend. You’re gonna need to build a really big boat.” I won’t tell you how long my muscles ached after that little stroll. It’s embarrassing.

One hearty brother-sister duo at the top of Maine's highest peak.

This weekend, I climbed High Point, NJ with M.L. (who, to his credit, is a remarkably good sport about mountain climbing), thereby doubling the number of peaks bagged by yours truly.

This is M.L.'s best, "I climbed a mountain," face.

This is mine (sans thumb, of course).

Round two of Heather vs. high peaks was almost disappointingly easy. High Point is a literal mole hill next to a mountain like Katahdin, rising only 1800 feet above sea level to Katahdin’s 5200. (To be fair, Katahdin’s 5200 feet look awfully demure next to Mt. McKinley’s 20,000+.)

Still, how could I resist the seductive charm of pride? The chance to say, “Well now, I’ve climbed not one, but two high peaks on the east coast”? I never have a fighting chance against the potential for bragging rights.

The obelisk, more officially titled "High Point Monument." It's quite impressive, really, and visible from almost anywhere in the park.

So, on a very sunny day in mid-summer, up to the obelisk we went. The climb was incredibly short–only ten minutes to from the trailhead to the summit–but the view was spectacular. High Point boast views of the New York State line and the Delaware River, evergreen forests and New Jersey farmland.

The Delaware River winding away to the north.

The High Point Monument offers the chance for an even better view. For those willing to brave what begins to feel like an infinite number of steps plus a decided temperature spike, the reward is a bird’s-eye view of rolling hills and valleys in all their summer glory. Anyone who thinks New Jersey is void of all natural charms should take a peek from one of the obelisk’s lofty windows.

Hiking it to the top of the monument.

We finished off the day with a slightly longer hike along the ridge connected to High Point. For the most part it was a lovely hike with some steady, but moderate, inclines and some local fauna that differs from New York’s Adirondacks, which are more familiar to me. (Sweet fern in particular abounded on both sides of the trail along with a low shrub akin to the holly bush.)  There was challenging stretch at the end of the trail–a set of rough-hewn stairs to take us back up to the top of the ridge–that made for a satisfying end to the excursion.

With my last two states of residence Maine and New Jersey conquered, I’m setting my sights on the home state next. Mt. Marcy, NY, here I come.