Carranza, Batona Trail, High Crossing, RR Basto River Bridge

J

JeffD

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Early yesterday afternoon, I started hiking on the Batona trail between the Carranza Memorial and the railroad crossing, followed it to the sand road to High Crossing, and followed the tracks to the RR bridge over the Basto River bridge. I managed to make it back to the car right around sunset. After such a long walk, much of which I walked at a fast clip, I fell asleep shortly after I returned home, and experienced cramps in my legs, mainly the thigh muscle that attaches to the outside of the knee. It got very tight for awhile.

Despite some evidence of people's lack of respect for the rules and the environment, it was a pleasant walk, where I saw a variety of environments. The Batona trail booklet clearly states that the trail is for foot traffic only; no mountain bikes or horses. Shortly after I entered the trail I found tire tracks that may have been from a bicycle or from a dirt bike. This didn't seem to do a little damage in places to the trail. Hoofprints from horses were deep in places and in spots started degrading the trail. There were no signs posted that the trail was for foot traffic only. Near the part of the trail on the other side of the tracks, where the trail widens shortly before it connects to the sand road that leads to High Crossing, there were car or truck size tire tracks, quite deep in one place.

Occasionally thoughout the hike, I found the calling card of Joe Sixpack and other thoughtless folks.

I saw only a dirt bike on Carranza road near the railroad tracks, which seemed to suddenly turn down a sand road on my side of the tracks, heading towards Chatsworth just as I parked and I passed by a lone horse rider heading towards me, who remarked how obedient my dog was when I called to leash her, as Dolly and I approached her.

I reached High Crossing, which, as I learned from posts on the PBE board, that it wasn't high across the tracks at all. I think I could have crossed the tracks there with my old Mazda RX7, which was so low to the ground I don't think a lowrider could have modified it. I started to head back to Carranza as I planned but after walking a few hundred feet along the tracks, decided to look for the marker, I believe you, Guy, had mentioned. I couldn't find it. I remember learning that the Carranza crossing was a mile away, and I thought I didn't want to end the trip so quickly. I had looked at the topo map which I had downloaded from this site at home and considered walking to the Basto River bridge. I seemed a long way and I thought I'd try just walking the tracks from Carranza or High Crossing, if I can drive OK to High Crossing. Someday. But on a lark, I decided to at least head out for the bridge.

According to the topo map, the land around High Crossing and Carranza was high, and the elevation got lower as one approached the Basto River bridge. In most places I had to follow a path that ran alongside the tracks. For quite a distance the trail was dry. It became damp, then wet as I got closer to the Basto River bridge. There were some puddles in some places. After awhile, there were swamps and bogs just outside the railroad bed corridor.

In the drier area between High Crossing and the Basto River bridge, I saw acres of dead, down and charcoled trees. There was evidence that a fire had run through the area. For some areas, I wondered how the forest could regenerate with all the woody debris, small to medium trees and smaller stuff cluttering the forest floor. In one spot a medium to large pine tree had become uprooted and was stretched across the tracks. As I continued my journey, I found rows of healthy youong pine saplings growing between the bare, taller trees. There is hope, I mused.

I passed two RR crossings, the farthest one still had the rails across the crossing.

Up ahead and slightly to my left, I could see the sun low on the horizon, and was thinking about heading back. I thought "just a little further." Soon, I heard running water. Shortly after that, in this distance, there it was! The bridge over the river Basto. I didn't spend too much time there. I climbed down to the river and walked through a grove of cedars that grew close to where the river bends. About six feet in and scarcely two feet above river level the ground was practically bone dry. The roots of cedars somehow reached down far enough to get the moisture the trees need although the surface is dry.

Sunset approached, so I began walking back at a fast pace, passing and reviewing the scenery I had viewed from the opposite direction. I started getting tired and a little hungry. Although the scenery was pleasant, the last mile -- between High Crossing and Carranza, seemed the longest. Shortly before I reached the Carranza area, where I picked up the Batona trail, I though "I hope Guy was right that it's only a mile between High Crossing and Carranza." At one point I also thought about John Muir, who traveled much farther than I did, and ate little during his jaunts out in the Sierra Mountains, and sequestered himself to get alot of writing done when he got home. Unlike myself today, Muir didn't have the Internet to allow him to immediately communicate his experiences in the forest to others. Having the Internet is progress. And let's use the progress that has brought things such us the automobile, off road vehicles, canned beverage and modern science responsibly to keep the beauty of the Pine Barrens for generations to come.
 

Teegate

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Jeff,

It sounds like a great outing, I am glad you enjoyed it. I really enjoyed reading it and have to read it over again to see if I missed anything.

>I reached High Crossing, which, as I learned from posts on the PBE board, that it wasn't high across the tracks at all. I think I could have crossed the tracks there with my old Mazda RX7, which was so low to the ground I don't think a lowrider could have modified it.<

You can easily get to High crossing with your car, no matter how low. The road there is quite good. You can get there coming from Tabernacle on Carranza road, and taking the dirt road that is just past the Juvenile Boot camp and the bridge right after it. Just watch the drop from the paved road to the dirt road. That is the the only spot you need to be concerned about.

> I started to head back to Carranza as I planned but after walking a few hundred feet along the tracks, decided to look for the marker, I believe you, Guy, had mentioned. I couldn't find it<


I believe once I said that marker was at High Crossing, when actually it is at Pine Crest near Apple Pie Hill. That was my mistake. So if you ever go to Apple Pie Hill, head to the tracks at Pine Crest and walk toward Carranza and less than 500 feet on your right down a slight hill you will see it. I did not have a GPS then and my records are not as accurate as I would have hoped.

http://www.njpinebarrens.com/~teegate/pinecrest.jpg

You need to purchase a GPS Jeff, so we can coordinate our locations more accurately.

Guy
 

Teegate

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<In the drier area between High Crossing and the Batsto River bridge, I saw acres of dead, down and charcoled trees. There was evidence that a fire had run through the area>

Jeff,

I believe it was Ed who mentioned that the reason why the tracks and the hill at High Crossing were removed, was for easier access for the fire vehicles to fight the fire that consumed the woods where you noticed has been burned. I also believe he said it was around 3 years ago, but I am not certain of that. Ben has a photo of High Crossing when the tracks were still there, so he may be able to give a more accurate date.


<I passed two RR crossings, the farthest one still had the rails across the crossing. >

The farthest one you came upon while heading towards the Batsto Bridge, goes to Hampton Furnace near the Skit Branch of the river if you walk to your right.

So to get to that spot if you are at the cranberry warehouse ruins and they are on your right, go forward, cross the large bridge over the skit branch, and look for a road heading off to your right, That takes you to the crossing nearest the Batsto bridge.

At the link below, the red target symbol is at the skit branch bridge. The road in question is between the BM 44 and BM55 but is not shown on this map.


http://topozone.com/map.asp?z=18&n=4401698&e=527604&s=25&size=l&u=2

Guy
 
J

JeffD

Guest
Thanks for the route information, Guy, and the then and now photos of High Crossing.

I've been to Hampton Furnace. It's good to know that I can get closer to the Basto RR bridge without having to go through giant puddles, as we did on our the outing where we ate lunch there. It's good that there are different routes to take. Not only can you get closer to a particular place -- and believe me, that was a bit of walking - you can pass by different places such as the Hampton Furnace. I'm not familiar with the cranberry ruins. I imagine there's alot of them.

I remember Ed's comments about High Crossing. I just didn't remember that the forest service leveled the crossing for a particular fire. I'm concerned about a future fire in the area. It looks like that area wasn't completely cleaned up after the fire. All the debris on the forest floor not only hampers regeneration; it is a fire hazard. If a fire starts amongst that mess, it will esculate. This is one of the things I could talk to the representative from the NJ Forest Service about on Super Science Weekend at the NJ State Museum the weekend after next.
 

Teegate

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Jeff,

We went by the ruins of the cranberry warehouse on the way to the bridge on our outing shown at the link below.. We came in the road shown in the photo on the right, and passed the building just before we went down the long road with the puddles.


http://mywebpages.comcast.net/teegate/warehouse1978-2002.jpg

I have never been down that last crossing road from Hampton with my car, because I was in my brother's 4x4 that day. It is dry but may have some sandy area's. I will be in that area soon, and will take it in my car to check it out.

Guy
 
J

JeffD

Guest
I recognized the Cranberry ruins in your photo, Guy, and recall the general location. I think I know the route to that last RR crossing just before the Basto River RR bridge, as you are coming from High Crossing. And I remember passing the Juvenile Boot Camp on Carranza road. It should be hard to find the road that cuts off to the right as you're going from Tabernacle towards the monument just after the little bridge over a creek. My guess is that the road to High Crossing would be drier than the one to the crossing closer to the Basto RR bridge. And I'll remember the drop from the paved to the unpaved road.

Although the land is at a higher elevation around High Crossing and Carranza than it is as you approach the Basto River area, there still can be dips in the road where puddles form. I walked mainly along the sand road that skirted the RR tracks when I hiked from High Crossing to Carranza, and I found one big puddle at one point between these areas.

I've been to Apple Pie Hill, but have never driven from the hill to the railroad tracks around Pine Crest. I entered from the road that leads from Chatsworth, past a lake. I turned left at the "brick pillars" and followed a sand road, which is part of the Batona trail, up to the fire tower on Apple Pie Hill. I imagine the road between Apple Pie Hill and Pine Crest is dry, as Pine Crest is about as high as Carranza and High point. I've hiked the Batona trail from the parking lot at the Apple Pie Hill fire tower for a few miles, heading towards Carranza, and the trail was very dry. I don't remember seeing any water at all.

I'm interested in going on the next Yahoo outing to the Hampton area. I'm sure you'll keep us posted, Barry.