Author Archives: erinmroll

Foraging With Bobcat: Edible Plants

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Robert “Bobcat” Saunders, center, points out a patch of lamb’s quarters, epazote and burdock along the foot of the Palisades in Alpine.

I’ve always wanted to learn more about identifying edible plants along the trail.

I can recognize blackberries and blueberries (both highbush and lowbush) in the wild, and hiking along the Long Path in the Palisades during the summer, I’ve snacked on quite a few wineberries. But what I know about foraging is far outstripped by what I don’t know.

So when I saw that the Palisades Interstate Park Commission would be hosting a talk by Robert “Bobcat” Saunders – who, let it be said, really knows his edible plants – one weekend at the Alpine Boat Basin, I decided to check it out.

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Spring has sprung

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Gear up.

Well, hey ho, trailheads. As of this writing, it finally feels like spring is here. Here in New Jersey, between two nor’easters and several days of snow, it felt like winter definitely wore out its welcome. Even after the snow melted, we had several prolonged periods of cold temperatures, which didn’t make being outside all that fun. On top of that, March and April were pretty wacky months on the work front, which didn’t leave much time for hiking. Or blogging. Continue reading

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Not just Common or Garden: Boston’s Emerald Necklace

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A view of the Back Bay Fens in November 2017, looking back toward downtown Boston.

Now that your esteemed blogger-in-chief is safely unencumbered of graduate thesis, it’s time to get the blog going again! (It’s also been a vile winter around here, so that’s another reason for hiking time being curtailed. I know that some hikers groove on sub-zero temps, but I prefer not to have to wear arctic survival gear on a hike.)

As of this writing, it’s Super Bowl day, and the Patriots and Eagles are going at it in full force. (I freely admit, oh gentle readers, that I am not much of a football person – and even if I were, I live smack in the middle of Giants territory. Can’t be helped.) But I do have an entry for you that is Boston-related. The family and I spent Thanksgiving weekend in Boston this year – and since I like to be on the lookout for city walks when I’m traveling, I decided that I would spend part of our visit checking out part of the Emerald Necklace.

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Come for the Popovers, Stay for the Bogwalk: Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park

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A view across Jordan Pond from the southeast portion of the loop trail. In the center are the Bubbles; to the right, Pemetic; to the left, Penobscot.

Taking a bit of a break from the graduate thesis writing to bring you my second posting about Acadia National Park, from our trip earlier in the summer. Last time, I told you about the joys of biking up a really steep trail to Witch’s Hole. So this time, I’m taking you down to the southern end of Acadia, to Jordan Pond.

Jordan Pond is a glacial lake formed during the Ice Age, so say the geologists. It is framed in on three sides by mountains: the Bubbles to the north, Penobscot to the west and Pemetic to the east. And on the southern edge you’ll find the Jordan Pond House.

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Climb Ev’ry Mountain: Witch’s Hole, Acadia National Park

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Bikers ride over the Rockefeller-built bridge – part of the network of carriage trails in Acadia National Park – near Duck Brook Road.

Repeat after me, boys and girls: There is no shame in walking your bike up a steep trail.

Once more, with feeling: There is no shame in walking your bike up a steep trail.

I freely admit that as a biker, steep hills and I do not get along. I can set a pretty good pace on suburban roads and flatland woods trails, but I generally leave the serious mountain biking to the really serious extreme sports types. (Aside from the occasional round of ziplining – see also: Hunter Mountain – I generally prefer my sports to be non-extreme. But I digress.)

The family and I were on a week-long trip to Maine in mid-August. Lots of hiking, biking, kayaking. And I’m pleased to report that I got plenty of fodder for the blog, including two visits to Acadia National Park. One day involved a bike ride around the northern end of the park, which I am describing to you here, and a side visit to Sieur de Monts (that’s for another entry). The other was a visit down to Jordan Pond (also for another entry).

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Paddles Up at Monksville Reservoir

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Paddleboards sit lined up by the boat launch on the northern end of Monksville Reservoir.

A few weekends ago, boys and girls, I found myself standing atop what was basically an oversized surfboard, gripping a paddle that was about as tall as I am, starting to punt myself across the surface of the Monksville Reservoir.

If you’re into paddle sports, you’ll know exactly what I was doing. But for those of you who aren’t, an explanation or two is necessary.

I’ve been kayaking since I was a kid, but stand-up paddleboarding – which is what I was doing – is a somewhat different beast. It can best be described as a hybrid of kayaking and surfing, and I’d had an inkling to try it for a little while.

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Watching the Warblers at Watchung

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One of the trailheads for the History Trail at Watchung Reservation, near the Trailside Nature and Science Center.

Well, now, trail heads, you’ve probably been wondering where your trail head in chief has been this winter.

I wish I could tell you that I was off on a long-distance hike in Australia or South America, or perhaps off on a mountain-climbing expedition in the Rockies or the Pyrenees.

But the truth of the matter is, between some ghastly weather in New Jersey this winter, a transition into a new job and not one but two graduate school classes this winter and spring, my hiking time has been severely curtailed. And by extension, so has my blogging time.

This weekend, having finally caught up on some things, I packed up my water bottle, binoculars and copy of “Birds of Eastern North America” and headed someplace I’ve not hiked yet: Watchung Reservation in Union County.

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Categories: Ecology, Hiking, Walking, Wildlife | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail, Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, NY

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One of the QR-code signposts found along the Old Croton Aqueduct.

I’m always joking that if Washington Irving wrote the Legend of Sleepy Hollow today, Brom Bones would never be able to ride down from Ossining in time for the Van Tassels’ party because he’d be stuck in traffic on Broadway.

Now, the Old Croton Aqueduct trail, on the other hand, just up the hill from Tarrytown’s business district…you can definitely imagine the Headless Horseman barreling through here. Yes, never mind that the aqueduct, now the Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park, was built quite a bit after Irving’s time. Today, instead of water, it carries walkers, hikers, bikers, and on certain sections of the trail, horseback riders. And yours truly got to check out the trail – long an item on my hiking to-do list – during a weekend outing with the family back in November.

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Down By the River: Liberty State Park and Hoboken, NJ

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View of lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty from the riverfront promenade in Liberty State Park.

Got a bit of a city hike to share with you…well, more like a city bike ride. If you’ll follow me, I’m going to take you down to a certain spot on the Hudson River in Jersey City. It’s a place with lots of bike trails, lots of sea breezes, and lots of history.

Not to mention a certain lady in a green dress standing on a rock right in the middle of New York Harbor.

You know who I’m talking about.

Lady Liberty just had a birthday not too long ago – and I think we may say that she’s still looking pretty darn good.

And this place of which I refer is Liberty State Park. Continue reading

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Happy birthday to the NPS!

IMG_5438Just a short – but very sweet – post tonight. Today marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

I’ve been to parks with awesome sea views (Acadia National Park, and the Assateague and Cape Cod National Seashores), not to mention under-the-sea views (the underwater trail in Virgin Islands National Park). There’s the park not too far from me that makes learning about the Revolutionary War more fun (Morristown National Historic Park).

And then there’s the one with the giant hole in the ground – you might have heard of it? The Grand Canyon National Park?

As part of the centennial activities, the NPS have launched Find Your Park, a campaign to get people out to enjoy their local national parks. On the NPS website, there’s a function where you can punch in where you live, and the site bring up national parks in your area.

I’ve visited a fair number of parks on the list, but there’s a lot more that I want to visit – so I need to get trip planning. Shenandoah, perhaps, or Yosemite? Or Denali – for like many others, I am smitten by the adorable pups in the Canine Rangers.

Happy birthday, NPS, and here’s to another 100 years or more.

For further reading:

NPS Centennial: Find Your Park, centennial activities, and much more.

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