The Risley Branch, a PBX Hike

Teegate

Administrator
Site Administrator
Sep 17, 2002
24,530
6,789
All,

Late last year when I discovered the ruins near Chatsworth in the below photo, I was scouting out the newest PBX hike I was designing for this year.


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I submitted all my info and planned waypoints to Bob and on 12/27 Bob sent this edited text to all PBX members.


Risley Branch Hike--A PBX Explore

Boys,

No one can blame you for looking out your window and cursing the rotten exploring weather over the past week. But have good cheer—it will get better!

We are going to hope so, and schedule a trip for Saturday, January 9, 2010. We will meet at 8:45 AM.

The title of this trip is Risley Branch Hike, and it was designed and being led by Guy, our dedicated Pine Barren Brother. This is an extremely wild area southeast of Chatsworth. Heavily logged by Jones Mill for at least a hundred years or more, in the 1930’s it was all but stripped of trees except for a couple of virgin cedar swamps, which we’ll be visiting. Many areas are re-vegetated now, and we’ll be able to see some fine country with a mixture of really remote sandy areas and low savanna type land. Since we’ll be crossing and exploring along the Governor’s Hill Branch for awhile, we’ll get to see that too.

IMPORTANT: I very strongly suggest for this trip that you wear at least knee high rubber boots, or you WILL get your feet wet. We have to cross a long beaver dam early on, and if you wear regular hiking boots, you will be wet all day after that.

Rest assured, if the weather is awful, we’ll reschedule. There is no sense trying to wade through snow drifts, or freezing in 20 degree weather, or trying bravely to have a good time in a cold rainstorm.

But lets not think of that, my crystal ball says the day will be 40 to 45 degrees, calm winds, and sunny!

Happy Trails.....hope to see you there!



Well, as you can see from the date that was last Saturday, and with the chill factor in the single digits the trip was rescheduled for today. Our first stop today was the ruins of what I believe to be the home of mosser Selah Bowker and his family.


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Moving on, we started our way towards the beaver dam across the Governors Branch and crossed quite a few frozen area's on the way.


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The only way across was by crossing the beaver dam. Those without knee highs got quite wet.

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Once across we followed the edge of the stream and Jeff stepped into a frozen quaking bog that he was able to get out of before sinking to his death. This video shows we would have been pulling on his head to get him out if he went under.




Now that we all knew to watch out for them, we carefully worked out way through the swamps. Well, almost everyone was careful. I lost my concentration and almost reached China. Without the frozen ice to hold me up, and quick thinking by Bob and Scott, I would have been in trouble.


Jeff again demonstrating the depth of the hole I fell into.



After some heavy plowing we made it to a road, and we soon realized there were other ways across the river. This foot bridge was built on the piles of an old bridge that was there many years before.


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We followed the road, which turned to a small trail, and eventually made it's way to a deer stand. Here is Bob making his way up to the nose bleed section. Fifty year old men shouldn't do this type of thing!


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Eventually we found a large deer stand on a very large cedar tree. The people who made this one hacked up the woods pretty bad to clear the area for their hunting pleasure.



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Paul making his way up. Almost 60 year old men should not be doing this!


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We finially made it to the "islands" which was one of the main reasons for the hike. These so called islands are area's cleared of almost all vegitation and have been since the 1930's and earlier. Nothing really grows there.

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Our group photo. CW from top left is Manumuskin, Bobpbx, oji, Woodjin, RednekF350, Hewey, Paul who is not a member of this site, and Teegate (me).


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Bob had a stick stuck to his hat for a while that we all kept watch on :) All but Bob that is.


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And as the sun was setting we arrived back at the beaver dam after a very hard day of hiking. This photo shows the view upstream.


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A great day with great individuals who will certainly add photo's and information I excluded from this thread.


Guy
 

bobpbx

Piney
Staff member
Oct 25, 2002
12,946
3,219
Pines; Bamber area
Nice report Guy. You do love your tree stands! I'll post some photos tomorrow. What was the rating, a 9.0?

Location, Location, Location!

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RednekF350

Piney
Feb 20, 2004
4,777
2,670
Pestletown, N.J.
It was great day in the wilds east of Chatsworth with some woods worthy pals.
I scored it a 9 out 0f 10 only because I would have preferred to spend more time along the Branch and we had to skip an interesting canal because we were running short on daylight toward the end.

Here is the first full view of the Risley after crossing the beaver dam.
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One treestand that we found was a goliath stand made of huge lumber cuts and the clearing for the sweet potatoe pile can be seen from space.
The clearing:
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This 58 year old kid had to get the view from the top:
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From there it was off to the islands where we dined regally and went island to island along well worn deer paths.
The island crowns were barren sand hills and held scattered, scrubby trees and shrubs. The ground was white sand with clumps of lichen.
I found evidence of a coyote diging along a mole tunnel trying to eek out a meal.

We started for base around two and stopped in this wet area where Bob nad Jeff posed for the press:

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Toward the end we returned to the Risley and took a few minutes to enjoy this tranquil view.
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We ended the trip along an open dirt road that was a welcome treat after 7 hours of hard, rewarding work.

Scott
 

Teegate

Administrator
Site Administrator
Sep 17, 2002
24,530
6,789
Scott,

Thank for the photo's. A nice one of Jeff and Bob.

Guy
 

manumuskin

Piney
Jul 20, 2003
8,332
2,162
58
millville nj
www.youtube.com
There are a few nice islands out there we missed but we did hit the best ones.I rated it a 10 because we visited my power spot.If you read this whip the power spot was just to the right of the group photo.I know it's been awhile since you made it out there.
the old bike trail that made it as far as ivory on the aerial has now disappeared.we did find the ruts of the old road but the road is now worse then the surrounding brush as old roads seem to be once their lost.
Al
 

Hewey

Piney
Mar 10, 2005
1,040
101
Pinewald, NJ
It was a great day to be in the pines today, it felt more like March then January. The first part of the hike could have been done on ice skates. It was cool to be at The old bowker home sight that was mentioned in Jersey Genesis. A great hike followed up with Scotts killer wine and cheese.

Jeff and Bob on the beaver dam.
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Guy joining Bob in the stand.
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Bobs tree, a maple we found with 6 trunks growing out of one stump.
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The crew in the frozen cedar swamp.
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A nice spot that Al calls his power spot.
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Guy, Bob and Scott.
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A nice deer hooking.
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Paul at the top.
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The last push through the thick stuff.
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Chris
 

bobpbx

Piney
Staff member
Oct 25, 2002
12,946
3,219
Pines; Bamber area
A shot of Jeff chilling (no pun intended) on an icy bog. I always liked ice-skating—I used to do it a lot in Presidential Lakes. Problem is, you have to skate a couple days to get your legs back in shape to skate! Doesn’t he look like Darth Vader?
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Can anyone guess what Guy is doing? We thought he had lost it this time.
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The PBX crew on this trip. I took the photo because Guy could not put his tripod in the ice. The companionship is half the fun.
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After Guy went in up to his hip in the boggy seep, he was kind enough to pose. What a sport he is. Not a thin-skinned person at all.
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Ice in the cedar swamp. We walked on this for at least 40 minutes through this virgin swamp. It sounded like we were continually breaking dishes in the kitchen.
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Guy takes in the ethereal light inside the remote cedar swamp. No better place to be.
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Jeff takes a break by sitting on the sphagnum moss. A real cool seat if you get my drift.
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Coyote print.
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A very remote savanna.
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Governor’s Hill Brook. I found three historic maps on this site that call it that, so that is what I’ll always call it.
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We gave this trip a 9. It was a good one. I wish though, that we could have seen the entire area 300 years ago, before the hand of man changed it.
 

woodjin

Piney
Nov 8, 2004
4,300
281
Near Mt. Misery
The Bowker homestead was an amazing find by Guy. The Bowker family were major land holders in Tabernacle at one time.
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An old car (50's era chevy maybe?) near the ruins
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Snake, but more likely a fish spine dropped in a bush by and eagle or osprey (my finger is not deformed, just a weird photo angle)
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Governer's Hill Branch is pretty amazing. a narrow, deep stream, running through a twisting savanna for the most part. The first photo is of an unusually wide spot. These traits are almost positively the result of one time cranberry farming.

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Spung
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Al's island, beautiful and remote
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Tree hugger
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Racoon skull most likely
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Bob taking a photo op on the beaver dam
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Jeff
 

Mts83

Explorer
Oct 24, 2008
207
1
Sourland Mountains
www.wtfda.info
Looks like a great hike guys! Good thing you went yesterday, after all this rain today its going to be a mess for a while till it freezes again. I did a similar walk today just as the rain started in some local pond/bog areas near my house... it was slippery.

Very nice photos from all.
 

manumuskin

Piney
Jul 20, 2003
8,332
2,162
58
millville nj
www.youtube.com
I think Risley (a.k.a.) Governors Hill branch needs a kayak expedition to fully explore it's far reaches.I measured slightly over a mile of potential kayakability.there appears to be an ancient dam downstream that backs the water up.I'd bet anything the actual spillway is rotted out and gone and beaver have taken over where man has neglected his dam duties.in anycase it looks navigable upstream past the footbridge to the next island and just possibly all the way up to the recently abandoned bogs south of 532.
any kayakers out there up for it?
Al
 

bobpbx

Piney
Staff member
Oct 25, 2002
12,946
3,219
Pines; Bamber area
sadly, and somewhat disturbingly, Guy has taken to impaling small hibernating mamals along the bog edges. We're going to get him counseling.:)

Good one Jeff!

The part I don't like is that he sharpens his stick in the machine shop before each trip and after spearing them he holds them till they stop wiggling--while he chuckles. I actually took a few steps back when he got that woodchuck at the end by the cars.
 

oji

Piney
Jan 25, 2008
2,068
409
62
Browns Mills
A great trip on a great day. I was worn out by the end of the trip. The crouching (and sometimes crawling) under the bushes killed my legs. But after busting through the bushes you would be rewarded with an nice walk through a cedar swamp or some beautiful islands. I also enjoy Guy's recording of the beaver dam crossing. Hearing the running water takes me right back to the spot.
 

Teegate

Administrator
Site Administrator
Sep 17, 2002
24,530
6,789
Very funny posts gentlemen :D


After looking all the photo's over I have to say I wish I had taken a photo of the ruins from the same location Jeff did. That view is most impressive. I will have to go back one day early and get one from that vantage point. Well done Jeff!

Tom,

I was just going to follow behind Scott, but the sound of the water and the sun low in the sky made me stop and capture it.

Guy
 

woodjin

Piney
Nov 8, 2004
4,300
281
Near Mt. Misery
I think Risley (a.k.a.) Governors Hill branch needs a kayak expedition to fully explore it's far reaches.I measured slightly over a mile of potential kayakability.there appears to be an ancient dam downstream that backs the water up.I'd bet anything the actual spillway is rotted out and gone and beaver have taken over where man has neglected his dam duties.in anycase it looks navigable upstream past the footbridge to the next island and just possibly all the way up to the recently abandoned bogs south of 532.
any kayakers out there up for it?
Al

I'm way ahead of you, Al. I already had the kayak trip planned before we finished the hike. I had fished the area right by the dam previously, but after this hike I'm going to fish the whole thing.

Jeff
 
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