Sunday, 21 October 2012 13:30
The New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve covers over one million acres of forests, wetlands, and farms in Southern New Jersey. Gabe Umar (a 16 year old Boy Scout) and his father, Erich, took us kayaking on one of their favorite rivers in the largest protected area in New Jersey. Kayaks are a great way to explore the Pine Barrens because there are many rivers that meander through the large stands of pine trees and wetlands. When we put our kayaks in the water the river was only one foot deep and 20 feet across. As the current carried us downstream, the river slowly grew wider and deeper.
The Pine Barrens in New Jersey is the largest expanse of open space on the Mid-Atlantic Seaboard between Richmond, Virginia and Boston, Massachusetts and it covers aquifers containing 17 trillion gallons of clean freshwater. Can you find Richmond, Virginia, Boston Massachusetts, and the Pinelands National Reserve on a map?
The region received its name, "barrens" from early settlers who learned that the soil was not good for raising crops. As a result, the region has remained largely undeveloped. Actually, "pine barrens" are a common feature of the coastal plain from Florida to Maine. They develop in areas where there is well-drained, sandy soil. Maybe we will encounter more pine barrens as we paddle south towards Florida.
After spending most of the last 10 days in and around New York City it felt great to be out in nature again. The smell of the freshly fallen leaves, the sound of water moving along the riverbank and the warmth of the sun hitting our faces made us feel happy. The forest was alive with animals. Deer and raccoon tracks dotted the muddy bank and squirrels darted from tree to tree. Blue Jays and other birds flew overhead. Gabe told us that he has even seen Bald Eagles and Osprey while paddling in the Pine Barrens.
It felt wonderful to be outside in nature and exploring the woods with our new friends. Away from the sounds of the city, we could listen to the sounds of nature. We have been trying to follow all of your suggestions for staying active while we are in the New York City area. We have been running and walking almost every day. We also played tennis and even went swimming, but it felt especially good to be paddling a kayak again. When was the last time you visited a wild place? What did it feel like to be there? I hope you can all visit a place like the Pine Barrens soon.
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