Wawayanda Hiking Guide: Pochuck Boardwalk To Pinwheel Vista Important Information
Appalachian Trail one way then return same path
Note: The information is just an approximation.
You can park at the side of the street.
Start Of The Journey
It was a dark and cloudy March morning, I took a deep breath and exhaled. My breath turned into visible puffs of mist that disintegrated in mere moments. The weather was unexpected and not part of the plan. I was expecting flowers, grass, meadows, and green scenery but what I have was white. White snow that covered everything I could see and clung to my boots as if they were glue. There was no hint of flowers, new plant sprouts, green meadows or anything that resembled spring. Looking at the vast space in front of me, it was beautiful in its own way. There was a sense of purity, untouched and calming about the white landscape like a blank notebook ready to be filled with new stories and new adventures.
I arrived early like usual but there was a sense of anticipation in my nerves. I have not led a hike in 5 months and if counting, this was the first hike of the season and probably my 5th time leading. A cold gust of wind passed me by; its shriek was low and cheerless, as it intermittently passed through dead plants, barren trees, and creeped into my skin like a shadow in an alley that made distant noises as it moved along. Perhaps if I was alone that time, I would have turned back but I had no fear, nor hesitation nor self doubt. Lots of my friends were going to be there and they were there to support me or help me grow. I have always enjoyed their company as their presence were reassuring and their laughter were like sunshine inside a house. I took another deep breath and smelled the fresh air; it was cold, chilly, it went to my lungs like ice water going down my throat, but at the same time I knew everything was going to be okay.
It was a place of ice crystals covering the landscape, with dead plants decaying at the left and right of us, out of which a serpent road stretches across the horizon with no visible end. There were no signs of life, no birds, no signs of animals, only dark and gloomy clouds hovering above us. My feet fell to the wooden road softly as the white snow cushioned the impact with each step barely audible to the human ear. I looked up and there was no sun, no clear blue skies, no cheerful rays of sunshine, nothing of that sort but inspite of this desolate and dreadful scenery there were bright and joyful sounds that could be heard coming from the people who joined.
The place was gloomy, the scenery was awful, and the cold could be felt through our layered garments and jackets but it did not matter. We were having fun, we were always having fun. It was the best thing about my friends. Hiking to us was probably not about exercise or scenery or how our body would feel afterwards, it is more about the social aspects of it. We were just there to hang out and have fun. Everything else was secondary.
Bridges On The Trail
The serpent road went on and on as it led us to a bridge constructed in wood and steel ropes hanging from the top. The bridge stood dignified over the shallow waters underneath where hidden dangers and pitfalls lurk. The only way across was the bridge as the water split the earth in half. I looked closely and the wood was dark, aged, minor cracks could be seen along its edges. It felt like it would crumble but at the same time would last for many more years if I can make such comparison or if it is even permissible in physics or make sense at all. But the bridge was there for us and we made it our castle.
I hunched downward, picked up some snow, and armed myself. One ammo after the other. My friends put theirs on the ledge of the bridge, preparing for one of our friends to come close. We were not the best and we make lousy shots. Lots of ammo was the best possible course of action. There were devious grins on my friends’ faces, sinister smiles that looked deliciously evil. “We are going to paint this guy white like a wall!!”, that was probably what my friends were thinking. “Whoosshh… Whooosssshhh”, one snowball thrown after another. Soon enough a lot of snowballs flying through the air trying to hit its target. But none hit… none. After what seemed to be like 20 snowballs thrown, none hit. We were terrible at this game. But it did not matter, were laughing and smiling. It was fun.
The river glistened like a giant crystal flowing in one direction. Barren trees, dead grasses and rotting brown reeds, dark muddy skies reflected upon its cold unnerving waters. I lay there looking at a wasteland, deprived of life, as the cold waters would kill any fish instantly and the cold bitter snow sends all memory of spring into nothingness. There was no color nor warmth to be felt from such scenery as the land itself seemed to have died. There were lots of rivers in our path to the summit and they were all very still. Not the solemn stillness of peace but more along the lines of grimly despair of the abyss. There was uneasyness in the air and I felt it deep within my bones.
Amidst all of these, I looked around and saw smiles on everyone’s faces. It was the first snow hike for most of us, inspite of all the inhospitable weather, to us it was more like a winter wonderland or place that we can play on. We played. We played a lot, cracking jokes, having fun, smiling and goofing around. There were many cases when we were not even moving or hiking. All we did was take pictures, goof around and smiled a lot. Hanging out was always fun. It was most likely our main purpose for hiking, nothing more, nothing less.
NOTE: GETTING LOST
After you come across a metal bridge, the path is to the left. You can see the white marker on the tree at the left of the picture. It is very easy to go straight and get lost.
We’re Off To See The Wizard
I thought of sun shine, fresh green grass, flowers and green scenery when I planned this hike. I thought of a place of long views, blue sky, short grass with very little people and a pine scent would follow us from start to end. As I took a deep breath, the icy air filled my lungs and reminded me of the reality that I have. What I got were icy white snow adorned the trees barren of their leaves; they stretched themselves upwards to reach the sky, decaying dead plants side by side, foot path covered in white, cold shimmering rivers that split the earth in half and even rail road tracks half buried in snow. It was a day illuminated by a special light only distinct in winter time as if the light shimmer in silver instead of a yellowish color.
The frosted air forced its way to my body soaking up its warmth, leaving my lips pale, my skin cold to the touch and my face whiter than usual. I placed my hands on the pockets of my jacket hoping to give them some warmth. Even after saying all of this, I looked at the faces of everyone. The morale of the group was high and everyone was having fun, enjoying the snow filled path that should not have been here on that day in March.
Climbing The Mountain
The untouched ivory pelt covered the land smudged with towering ghastly trees surrounding our path where I gazed at my members trudging upwards with adversity. One foot after another, one hand giving leverage to the next, we trek to the vista as the dreary heavens howl more fiercely; the cold winds dancing around our tired bodies, my stamina dwindling down as the footpath became slippery and strenuous, and mother nature’s relentless pursuit in stopping us in reaching the viewpoint. The rock was cold, wet and covered in snow but I did not care, I sat my beaten tired body on it, looked up at the muddy clouds, out of breath I stretched out my right hand up to the heavens. To everyone, it may have seemed like a gesture of anger or misfortune or cursing the heavens for our circumstance. To me, it was a gesture of gratefulness.
In a bed of white snow, ghostly trees, and decomposing plants, and only the roar of nature could be heard as no animals could be seen, I stretched my right hand up to the sky and looked at it with gratefulness. “I am alive.” In that sea of white devoid of life, we were alive. I am man made of flesh and bones capable of giving warmth, kindness, compassion and laughter. I was conceived with love, born to this world surrounded by love, learned to fall in love, capable of giving and receiving love. We were nothing more than a speck in the vast sea of white like a dot of ink in a blank canvas, but in that dot or space we acquired, it was where all the warmth, energy, and potential that life or everything is focused on. I dropped my hand, looked at my members and asked everyone that we should keep going.
Gazing towards the silver sky, there lay a carpet of white stretched out before my view, a sea of white that seemed untouched and pure, with shadowy hills looming at the end and sterile trees protruding in the landscape. I looked back and waited for my friends and people that joined as they trickle in one by one minute after minute. At the top was more desolate and barren than anything we have experienced that day. But looking at the people as they eat their lunch, they were always smiling and goofing around. In that white covered bleak place with cold winds passing us by from time to time, it was very warm. It was warmer and comfortable than any place that day.
Going Back Down
As the day waned, the first cheerful rays of the sun came flooding in on us brilliantly. As the sun sheds its light, the pristine white carpet glowed and sparkled in luminous color while the snow in front of us melted into slippery blocks of ice. The path was blocked with shimmering wet and perilous sheets of ice, too slippery to walk down. We placed both of our hands on to the earth, sat with our butts, slid down the icy stairs while thinking, “Wheeeeeee”. The snow filled hike was a fun day brimming with cheers, laughter and friendship. We went to our separate cars and met up at a restaurant serving “hot pot”. The warm spicy broth, filled with meat, vegetables and the savory sauce that I created was a great finish to a cold fun day of hiking.
Additional Notes: The viewpoint is not at the summit of the mountain. There will be a fork. Keep a lookout or you will miss it. The Appalachian Trail does not have an end in New Jersey, you may end up hiking forever lol