Alice, Caitlin (Mom), Mike (Uncle Mike), and I did a quick overnight trip to the Mullica River Wilderness. Compared to Alice’s and my April trip in the cold, this trip was sodden. It rained from ten minutes before we got out of the car… until ten minutes before we got back to the car. Still a great trip though—warm enough to not be miserable, summer colors vivid in the rain, and hardly a soul encountered on a pleasant, logistically simple outing in the Pine Barrens.
More photos are in the Flickr gallery.
A neat surprise was that Alice recognized parts of the trail from our previous trip. She declared several times “I was here yesterday!” (which means “before” in toddler time) and talked about hiking and sleeping in the tent, “just with Daddy last time, not Mommy and Uncle Mike.” Despite the rain, Alice again really enjoyed everything. It helps that she has fantastic raingear that she really likes and looks for reasons to wear (earlier in the year we had to stop letting her wear her rainboots all the time, everyday, when we realized they were getting so sweaty she was getting blisters on her toes). By far the biggest problem was that we retreated to the tents very early and Alice was still so wound up that she didn’t settle down and fall asleep until hours past her regular bedtime, spending the interim squirming and kicking…
I continue to highly recommend this trip for kids and beginning backpackers, or anybody looking for a simple overnight in the woods. The trail is neither rugged nor long, but it’s a good distance for most people and short enough to get out quickly in an emergency. The campground has a water pump and outhouses, and although the designated sites aren’t especially secluded, they’re spaced well apart and it’s quiet. Most of all, it’s just a nice, pleasant trail and camp. Lots of great color variation between the green woods and white sand, lookouts catching the river meandering around, tons of frog & bird song, and so on. It’s a surprisingly scenic, relaxing, remote-feeling route. Details and links are in my April report.
Small note, because I wasn’t sure beforehand and the ranger station unsurprisingly non-committal, that there’s probably reasonably minimal risk of flooding in the campground area. The river is indeed right there, but the beach landing and banks are a fairly steep and tall rise. The whole area is also so marshy that the water probably rises fairly gradually.
Also, we half-seriously considered trying to use a rugged running stroller. We were worried about how much I would be able to carry with last month’s sternum fracture (this turned out to not be an issue). Looking at the trail again in that light, I would not recommend it. An off-road stroller would probably be fine for much of the way. But the starting sections are very narrow and the ending stretch has a lot of deep, loose sand, so it wouldn’t actually work.
Again, more photos from this trip are in the Flickr gallery.