I went hiking at Sunfish Pond today in Columbia, NJ (just before exit 1 on Route 80 West). My iPod Nano’s pedometer shows I walked just over 18,000 steps, so that’s roughly 9 miles. The terrain is very rocky but the hills are not very steep so a beginner hiker should be fine, it’s just pretty long. Just follow the white trail all the way to the pond.
The main attraction, the Sunfish Pond, is very nice and big. There are plenty of big rocks around it where you can sit down and relax. I spent a few minutes checking out the area and then found a nice spot where I can take a break, eat my lunch, and enjoy the scenery. About 5 minutes later, a park ranger stopped by just letting everyone know that there’s a severe thunderstorm warning (great…). And sure enough, a few minutes after that as I was finishing up my lunch it started raining! :x. So that pretty much ruined my plan of chilling here for at least an hour reading Vagabonding.
This trail is supposed to be a loop so I was thinking of just continuing to follow the trail but I spoke to some of the hikers there who were also going to the same direction and it looks like they parked at a different parking lot so I decided to just go back the same way I came from. I was wearing my new KSO Treks for this hike, by the way. They’re very comfy thanks to the soft, flexible kangaroo leather but they’re even more comfortable with Injinji socks. They also do a great job protecting your feet from sharp rocks thanks to the thicker rubber sole. You can still feel the rocks but they don’t hurt at all!
On my way back, the rain got worse, saw a deer crossed the trail right in front of me (I guess it’s running from the rain), and still saw a lot of people on the way up to the pond. I guess this is a pretty popular trail, the parking lot near this trail was actually full when I got there (around 11:00ish) and had to wait for someone to leave.
My KSO Treks really got a nice test today. The rocks on the trail are now wet but the Treks seem to do a good job hugging them, they didn’t feel slippery at all. Also works great on mud. The kangaroo leather is also water resistant, I was hiking in the rain for about 4 miles and when I got home my Injinji socks were completely dry, I don’t think even a drop of water got through. I also started running downhill near the end of the trail and it felt great! With my regular KSO I really had to watch my steps when going downhill as I’ve landed on some things before that hurt my feet, but with the Treks they don’t seem to be a problem.
I’ll probably still use my regular KSOs and alternate the two. But for long hikes on rough terrains, the KSO Treks would be my choice. For easier terrains and water activities I’d wear the regular KSOs as they give a better “barefoot feel.”
I was pretty soaked when I got back to the parking lot. I’m glad I brought my MSR Packtowl (learned about this from Tim Ferriss’ blog) with me, which I was originally planning for just wiping off sweat on my face. I’m also glad that I bought this backpack (love this backpack!) a couple weeks ago as my old one is not water resistant. I was also wearing a polyester shirt that wicks moisture and dries very quickly so it was still pretty comfortable hiking in the rain. The only piece of clothing that wasn’t prepared for the rain was my shorts, I actually just ordered one that is water resistant/quick drying (and if you’re wondering what underwear I was wearing it’s this one – “17 Countries, 6 weeks, 1 pair of underwear” :D).
Well, next time, I’ll be more prepared. It was actually a pretty good experience hiking in the rain and it cooled me off. I’ll probably post something in the future about hiking gears/clothing as I get more experienced (I’m still a newbie hiker). Right now the only parts of my body that are sore are my ankles, I guess they’re still pretty weak and need more strengthening (thanks shoe companies that make thick-soled shoes and offer too much foot “protection”). Looking forward to next weekend to do more hikes!