Clearings slightly south of nowhere

woodjin

Piney
Nov 8, 2004
4,274
244
Near Mt. Misery
the woods along the Roberts branch in Wharton is seriously thick. Recently a set of clearings worked it's way into some PBX conversations, but attempts to reach them seemed just too far off of schedule. I had seen these clearings before in aerials and had been curious for some time, so I decided to make the trip there today.

I decided to approach from the east side of the Roberts due to heavy ice to the north and private land to the west. This required me to cross the Roberts. I have kayaked enough of it to know that is narrows considerably the further north one goes, but I still needed to construct a make-shift bridge from dead cedar to cross the approx. 5' depth.

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I was then struck with very thick cat brier making the 1/2 mile particularly difficult. I eventually found the first clearing which stood in sharp contrast to the density of the forest around it.

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I reached a total of four clearings, all similar, but differing in size. The ground was higher than the woods around them. The floor was typical sugar sand with lichen covered moss. Here are a few random photos:

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What was most stricking, was the isolation of these clearings and lack of any evidence of human intrusion. Only one had an old feeder, now rotting away on the ground. No garbage anywhere. Virgin as things get in the pine barrens.

When I arrived at the last and largest of the clearings, I was rewarded. This clearing had the purest suger sand floor I've seen in a long time. The only disturbance were some recent buck tracks. I thought to myself that I could probably live right there and no one would ever know. You could almost taste the isolation in the air.

Notice the "dune" or mound in the middle.

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There was a significant amount of sandstone here.

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It was getting late and I needed to head back

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Reaching the clearings is not an easy task. The woods are filled with brier. I suspect this is what has kept the area so protected. Spungs, filled with encroaching leather leaf were frequent.

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and some consumed by leather leaf

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On my way home (and a distance from the clearings) I crossed the Roberts branch again further north and came upon a hunters trial. He had cut (by way of chain saw I would guess) a series of intersecting cedars to cross the river and flood plain. He probably took out 20 cedars. Many in the 60-70 year old range. I suppose in the grand scheme of things it doesn't mean anything, but just seemed a bit over zealous for lack of a better term.

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Hope you enjoyed the report. I had a great time in a very wild area.

Jeff
 

MarkBNJ

Piney
Jun 17, 2007
1,875
70
Long Valley, NJ
www.markbetz.net
Excellent, Jeff. Those clearings look completely untouched. When I first started exploring the Barrens I assumed all such clearings must at some point have been the result of human activity, but now I assume the opposite: that most of them probably are natural. But I have no idea what forms them. Is it just the presence of a pocket of very sterile sand?
 
Oct 25, 2006
1,757
1
71
Real nice Jeff, i was out in the Pines yesterday too, searching out Monuments and Stones in the Red Road area, except for some small icy patches the snow was gone, roads were rutted everywhere.

Jim
 

MartGBC

Scout
Sep 10, 2008
79
0
Glendora
I encounter places like that every year hunting with my club. You can find all kind of things in the middle of nowhere.
 

Teegate

Administrator
Site Administrator
Sep 17, 2002
23,584
5,507
It is always interesting when we come upon them. We always wonder what the exact reason is for them.

Nice report Jeff as always.

Guy
 

RednekF350

Piney
Feb 20, 2004
4,643
2,418
Pestletown, N.J.
Nice report Jeff.
That certainly is a beautiful section of woods.
Thanks to Bob's Scouting the Skit, a lot of us got an up close and personal look at both the Skit and the Roberts.
You need your son to start keeping you company on those solo outings.
We may need also him as a designated driver in a few years.
:)
 

LARGO

Piney
Sep 7, 2005
1,541
114
51
Pestletown
Clearings,
Albeit purpose, nature, or circumstance, these are a treat when stumbled upon. Thanks for showing a few that you have found.

g.
 

bobpbx

Piney
Staff member
Oct 25, 2002
12,373
2,593
Pines; Bamber area
That is really interesting, right Jeff? I love those clearings. I think I know why they are there, or at least what contributes to them. As a geology professor explained to me, the pine barren higher uplands are the result of the land all around them "weathering" away over time. The higher lands are made up of harder rock, hence they are slower to weather away and remain higher than the surrounding land. Witness that hill of rocks close to your house that me, you, Guy and Jess visited.

If you look at your area, you have a weather resistant plateau in land surrounded by swamp--hence the briars that held you back:

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One of the most prominent ones I have ever seen is on the Pope Branch up by route 72. It is a nice little plateau me and Guy visited in 2004 or so. It is long and bare. You have to fight your way through those skinny small cedars to get to it:

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I don't know, maybe the chemicals leaching from the sandstone inhibit growth of plants on a selective basis?
 

Teegate

Administrator
Site Administrator
Sep 17, 2002
23,584
5,507
One of the most prominent ones I have ever seen is on the Pope Branch up by route 72. It is a nice little plateau me and Guy visited in 2004 or so.

1/17/04

It was really cold that day!

Guy
 

MarkBNJ

Piney
Jun 17, 2007
1,875
70
Long Valley, NJ
www.markbetz.net
That geological explanation makes a ton of sense when you illustrate it with the topo that way, Bob. Thanks for posting it. So, in terms of plant growth, might it be that these isolated highlands just don't retain moisture well enough? Seems to me that being primarily sandstone and loose sand, and surrounded by lowlands, they would drain rapidly.
 

Spung-Man

Explorer
Jan 5, 2009
932
575
62
Richland, NJ
loki.stockton.edu
plants one, geophysics zero

Nice observations! I think you are on a good track. I’d love to see the clearings at sometime in exchange for a Belgian ale? The Pines are full of geological surprises just waiting for discovery; we do not beat a dead horse. I like your use of botany for geologic sleuthing. Plants are often better indicators of the buried landscape than sophisticated geophysical techniques like electromagnetic induction studies or 3-D ground-penetrating radar imaging.

Forgive me as I become a bit cheeky, but has anyone come across the “silver-mine” holes of Pine Barrens old? In a sense, I think they are real features but say no more…
 

bobpbx

Piney
Staff member
Oct 25, 2002
12,373
2,593
Pines; Bamber area
I’d love to see the clearings at sometime in exchange for a Belgian ale?

Mark, I'm thinking a belgian ale would taste great, but I can't seem to tell from your statement what I have to do to get it! :)

Forgive me as I become a bit cheeky, but has anyone come across the “silver-mine” holes of Pine Barrens old? In a sense, I think they are real features but say no more

Uh oh, a riddle? I am not good at riddles, but please give some more clues! I"m game.
 

bobpbx

Piney
Staff member
Oct 25, 2002
12,373
2,593
Pines; Bamber area
So, in terms of plant growth, might it be that these isolated highlands just don't retain moisture well enough? Seems to me that being primarily sandstone and loose sand, and surrounded by lowlands, they would drain rapidly.

I don't know, but I'll bet your guess has some merit as a contributor to this. The Pine Plains are a prime example of that factor.
 

woodjin

Piney
Nov 8, 2004
4,274
244
Near Mt. Misery
http://forums.njpinebarrens.com/showthread.php?t=5948

jeff check out this thread.
me and whipoorbill were there about 6 weeks ago.your right those islands are awesome.theirs another small one about half a mile east of those that is even more isolated but not as purty.
Al

Oh yeah, I remember that thread and report, but I had forgotten that you had that clearing in there. You guys beat me to it. I noticed "the earth is only 6,000 years old" scribled in the sand near the mound. That should have been a dead giveaway.

Jeff
 
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