Hiking the mountains was much easier even than April and May hikes this year. Plain easy, in fact. No, I haven't been exercising strenuously, although I swam laps three days in a row this week, which adjusted energy much more than built muscle. This is the key--energy--not muscle. I'm a little overweight, not obese, but I could improve my muscle/fat ratio.
We visited our secret copperhead den. We tell no one where it is.
"I have a bad feeling about this," I said.
"Me too," My son said.
"I think they boogied out of here after we caught them last summer."
The place looked as dead as abandoned copper mines in the general area, or as dead as a patch of Bull Run Battlefield as it might have appeared months after the fighting.
In April, we found none; the last visit of last summer we found 16. We did find one today, and the photograph does little to help you. But we didn't care to drag the copperhead out with the snake stick. Let them be awhile. Besides, we have caught and released so many snakes that the initial curiosities are surpassed.
Afterwards, we ate at Gyro Bobs in Stanhope. I love this place on 206 in New Jersey. As we walked up, so much dynamite was going off in the quarry nearby it sounded like a fireworks show in the middle of the afternoon. The owner is Greek born, so I profoundly identify with this stop we have made before and will again. Cash and checks only.
Whitesides Mountain nearby challenged Matt for some climbing, but without equipment, he couldn't do a whole lot. He wants to do more rappelling here. Matt is fearless of heights, or almost so. He did say that when he first rappelled, it frightened him a little as he seemed almost to free-fall. But compared to Matt, I was paralyzed by heights as a boy, although I got up in some high places and managed to do my best in trees, Bowman's Tower, the Fire Tower at Apple Pie Hill, and at age 17, a friend and I actually scaled a 300 foot cliff from the top down without ropes--at the Devil's Tea Table near Raven Rock and the Delaware River. That face is not perfectly vertical, but close. We didn't even know if we would find hand and foot holds. It got hairy once.
The Whitesides Mountain face is awesome, just the outer front of a giant, stone outcropping about 200 feet high that looked more like schist than basalt, although I did not examine it, having other interests in mind. Basalt is dark grey. We met climbers who did have ropes, and the first thing I asked is whether or not they had come upon snakes. Yeah, ribbon snake. I have to tell you, scrambling up the ravine to the top did not feel strenuous for me, but having reunited with my wife below, I chugged water forgetting everything else absolutely. Heaven. Sometimes water absolutely surpasses for pleasure any other beverage possible.
Jefferson Lake nearby is a very cool place, but shore fishing is worse than limited: if you want to take a few casts at the launch, go ahead. In the future, we'll put a boat on.