Alquatka Branch, a PBX Hike

Teegate

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All,

On 3/1/08 this edited announcement arrived in the inbox of all members of PBX.



Get your swamp-stomping shoes on. We’re taking in the scenic sites of the West Jersey Pine Barrens.

The title of our next trip is “Alquakta Branch” We’ll meet at 8:45 AM on Saturday, March 29. The meeting spot is 2.5 miles south of Tuckerton Road on Jackson / Medford Road

Dig this. Where we park, the stream that crosses the road heads west, then north toward the mighty Rancocas. But we ain’t going that way. We’ll be heading in the opposite direction, into the wilds that make up the start of the mighty Mullica River watershed.

In fact, in less than 1/3 of a mile, the water flow will slowly start to creep and lean and wend its way toward the mighty Atlantic. This is the flow that eventually makes up the Alquakta Branch. By the looks of it, this branch supplies a lot of the headwater of the Mullica. I mean, for God’s sake, look at the size of that swamp. It’s a real Mother!

Guy and I designed this trip. This trip is about 5.15 miles if a crow flies, but we should plan for 6 miles at least. I would wear knee highs on this trip.


Happy Trails………bob




So after meeting up this morning we headed off for a day of exploring. On this hike from PBX was:

Gabe (pinelandpaddler)
Bob (bobpbx)
Me
Scott (rednekf350)
Jeff (woodjin)
Tom (long-a-coming)
Chris (chrisnj)

and two non members

Mickey
Paul


Our first scenic view




Then we came upon this piece of technology that we just had to try out. Let me tell you, the owner of this has some interesting photo’s to look at. Move aside Britney :)





The beginnings of the Mighty Mullica.




Bob





Another interesting visit.




Jeff testing the waters.




What would a hike be without stone searching, and this was no exception. This stone is for the corner of one of many pieces of property purchased in the area in 1767.




Jeff




My calculation on the next stone put it in the middle of a spung, which is quite unusual. After a few minutes of searching I called it quits and asked everyone to move on. In what was a stroke of luck, Mickey pushed his walking stick into the ground and hit something hard, and sure enough he found another one.




Discussing it



Another view




Then at lunch they decided to kill Gabe, even leaving him in the road. Here they are deciding what to do with his body.



It bothered me so much I just had to leave.



When they finally told me it was just a joke, we headed off and Bob found what we believe to be a charcoal ring. Notice the ringed depression and the rise in the ground. There were at least two at this location.




Scott discovered this rather large Sassafras tree that may just be a record size.




Chris in a savanna.




Here is where the day gets a little disturbing, much like when they killed Gabe. This time we can blame this on ATV’s.








Entering the longest and largest savanna in the pines.




Jeff planning his strategy.




Paul



In the end it was 6.7 very hard miles, and we all rated it an 8.9. A great day with great people, just how it should be.

Guy
 

PinesExplr

Scout
Dec 7, 2005
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Medford, NJ
nice day for a hike

Looks like it was a great day, I was always curious if you need to get wet, avoiding west jersey bogs private land to go that far south (or is it east?) and around towards Sharpe's Mt. and back towards Medford? It looks pretty dry from the pics.

They must of clear-cut, mowed under the high tension lines within the last few months. I always assumed there was a bridge under the wires where they cross the wettest spot, but never made it back that far.

ATVs go crazy back there, the dry spell in the fall made it possible for them to go anywhere and everywhere.. and they did.

ed
 

bobpbx

Piney
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Oct 25, 2002
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Guy, your post about Gabe made me roar with laughter! Very good stuff; I didn't know you had that kind of humor. :)

I'm sore, I'll post some photos tomorrow. It was another great day. I really enjoyed seeing that area. Who would ever think that is out there next to all those suburban Medford homes.
 

Teegate

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Looks like it was a great day, I was always curious if you need to get wet, avoiding west jersey bogs private land to go that far south (or is it east?) and around towards Sharpe's Mt. and back towards Medford? It looks pretty dry from the pics.

They must of clear-cut, mowed under the high tension lines within the last few months. I always assumed there was a bridge under the wires where they cross the wettest spot, but never made it back that far.

ATVs go crazy back there, the dry spell in the fall made it possible for them to go anywhere and everywhere.. and they did.

ed
No, there isn't a bridge, but a nice puddle keeps the traffic down I am sure. And it appeared to me that those ATV tracks were done when it was wet. The ground was all disturbed and not just the vegetation.

Ed, it was a very tough day, so getting to those power lines was not easy. If you are looking for an easy way there walking for Jackson Medford Road, you will have to work for it.

While we were at the power lines some of us were separated, with a few still in the woods, and we were yelling back and forth to each other trying to converse. Those of us on the power line road noticed a single ATV come out of the woods right by us and head off. I think we flushed them out while yelling. They must have been doing something, heard us, and headed out of there as fast as they could.

Guy
 

Teegate

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:)

I'm sore, I'll post some photos tomorrow.
I usually send my photo to my brother the night of the hike, but after writing this report up I was so tired I fell asleep here at the computer. I was thinking about Gabe having to work last night and wondering how he made out.

Guy
 

RednekF350

Piney
Feb 20, 2004
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It was a beautiful day on planet earth yesterday and we got to see a lot of things that few people ever get to see from a perspective that few will ever have.

Here is Paul next to a potential record sassafras.
I found that I will have to buy the NJ Big Tree list from NJDEP to check to see if it is a contender.

http://gallery.njpinebarrens.com/showphoto.php/photo/8184

http://gallery.njpinebarrens.com/showphoto.php/photo/8186

One of our first vistas was this small spong. It was a micrcosm of everything in the pines contained within a 300' dia. circle.


http://gallery.njpinebarrens.com/showphoto.php/photo/8187


To wrap up the day, we started up the granddaddy of all savannahs. It was an awesome sight and it went on forever.
Unfortunately, we couldn't go on forever with the burning muscles from the wet slog.

http://gallery.njpinebarrens.com/showphoto.php/photo/8185

The tailgate after was superb and we parted ways happy and woods weary.
Scott
 

Pine Baron

Explorer
Feb 23, 2008
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Great trip report. Excellent photos,too. (Lucky find on your marker, Guy.) The pics of that savannah are awesome.

On the map that was posted, are those the West Jersey cranberry bogs on the bottom left and is the savannah the entire open area on the map between "Savannah" and "Header" that your path went through?
If so, that is huge and I would like to see that one for myself.
 

Teegate

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Great photo's Scott and Jeff. Jeff, that view that shows me is an excellent example of how long that savanna is, and to think that is only a part of it.

Pine Barren, yes that was our planned route, but we were running late and a few were getting tired, so we altered our route slightly after going through almost half of the savanna. We will be going back sometime later in the year to check it out completely. It is a really tough one, especially after hiking the distance we did before we arrived at it.

And yes it is the West Jersey Cranberry Meadow on the left.

Guy
 
Apr 6, 2004
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Galloway
I'm back from the dead, boys. That was one hell of a savannah; much different than the kind I'm used to. Of interest was the stream that was created by the ATVs. Way to go!

Scott, that was a great find you had there in the Sassafras. The post-hike refreshments were, as always, an excellent reward. Thanks, dude!

Bob and Guy, you fellers planned a memorable trip. I sure like that Al Quacka branch. The humble beginnings of the Mullica aren't so humble, afterall. Though, I have to admit that I was after hiking it.

It was great to tread more uncharted territory with the crew. I have a plan for an April hike.
 

bobpbx

Piney
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Oct 25, 2002
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This trip covered that sacred ground found between two watersheds; one gathering steam and purpose towards the mighty Delaware via the Rancocas, and one moving swiftly toward the Atlantic via the Mighty Mullica. And even so, the ground is low for a watershed source. As an example, PBX did an exploration a few years ago titled “Four Watersheds in One Day”. It was near the clay pits in Manchester/Lacey, and we visited the beginnings of the Wading, the Oswego, the Cedar, and the Rancocas (in the far eastern branch). The elevation is about 190 feet average in that area, and mostly upland except for the stream heads. But yesterday, the elevation was only 90 feet where this branch of the Rancocas and Mullica nearly kiss each other. And, remarkably, it was swampy nearly the entire time, which is good for briars, young swamp maple, and leather leaf, making the going extremely tough at times. But downright exhilarating too.

Here we are following the Rancocas upstream. This stream enters Centennial Lake in Medford Lakes.



Before long, there were 8 outlaws. Lets see, that’s $8,000. If you own this property, we did not go beyond the sign (at least willingly-sometimes our feet don’t mind our mind).



Here is a good example of the terrain we had to deal with for the first few tough miles. This is mainly sedge, swamp maple, leatherleaf, and some of the tallest, oldest, high-bush blueberry ever seen.



This small branch of the Alquatka is not even shown on the topographical map.



At an abandoned attempt at agriculture, Jeff shoots back at me.



My man Tom on the right, always willing and ready to go the distance. Tom, you are a great exploring companion.



A few times, Guy got us hopelessly lost. I’m not going to trust him anymore. Here he is blaming the GPS again, while Chris gets a kick out of his constant lies.



Just kidding of course. I’d trust Guy to get me out of any situation. I often tell him where I am via email so that a professional explorer like him can get people to me in an emergency. At this spot, we were actually talking about how Guy finds these haystack needles sometimes (with help from Mickey this time).



Here is Paul at Plateau, a really neat high and dry spot closer to Atco road. A man might camp here for awhile to get his soul back (and hide from the cops if that is the case).



Scott, by my stick the diameter of this tree is about 19”. Damn big for a Sassafras.



Paul in one of the several Cedar Cathedral groves we were fortunate to enter and pontificate the meaning of life in.



Just before we left the swamp for the savanna, we passed through an ancient laurel grove. Many of the branches were 6-8 inches thick or more.



Of course, the first thing we see in the savanna is that some local guys are ruining the wild experience here.



Mickey



Further up the savanna it was better, more natural. Here is Jeff in a really beautiful spot. By the way, Jeff moves through the pines like a ghost. He is really quick, challenging the rest of us to keep up.



Big Sky Jersey!



Yes!



The cedars you see in the distance will be explored by us later. We’ll be back.



Tired but happy after 5 hours of slogging it out.



Guy leads the way back home.



I had a great time on this trip. Scott gave it a perfect ten (10). That is saying something. I gave it a 9.5, and part of that was for the great companionship that I always enjoy.
 

ChrisNJ

Explorer
Jan 31, 2006
149
0
16
Medford
That was a fun hike, thanks guys. I just wish I had more energy to enjoy that savanna as in retrospect it was an awesome sight that I would like to experience again, unfortunately by the time we got there all I could think of was getting back to the trucks :-(
 

Teegate

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Sep 17, 2002
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That hat sure looks funny on me, but it is front line defense from tree branches. Next comes the ear plugs. Not kidding!

Anyway, the one of Mickey is quite nice. His determination is quite impressive, and to think he was a teenager when I was born.

Mark the cedars down for the fall, I am ready to go back.

Guy
 

Teegate

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, unfortunately by the time we got there all I could think of was getting back to the trucks :-(
I have felt that way on at least one occasion, so you are not alone. It is much harder to hike where we do than most people can imagine.

Guy
 

woodjin

Piney
Nov 8, 2004
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Near Mt. Misery
That is a good shot of Mickey. He is in amazing shape. Really great shots Bob. You have a real knack with that camera.

I guess my "motion detector camera shots" were a bit much for the public forum huh? :D That is probably for the best.

Jeff