95-Mile Tree Lookout

95-Mile Tree Lookout, Stephens State Park (5/30/2011)

We kept the hike short again today (Memorial Day) because of the heat and the mosquitos. Temperatures approached the high 80s today with a fair amount of humidity. And the mosquitos were hardly better than two days ago. Gosh I miss winter. This is the first time we hiked in Stephens State Park. It's also the first time we ever stumbled upon a snapping turtle on a hike. It's also the second and third times we stumbled upon a snapping turtle! Yes, we actually saw three of them, one bigger than the last. The third was resting in the shade of our SUV at the end. We gently nudged him away from the car because he started to head under our car when we started opening and closing doors, something he wasn't too keen on. Fearing I'd run over the poor thing, we finally got him to head away from the car back into the searing sun. They are sights to behold, these snapping turtles, measuring over a foot in length with scaly tails and heads and jagged shells that made me feel like I walked into the dinosaur age.

We parked at the somewhat large grassy parking area in the power line cut at the northern end of Station Road northwest of Budd Lake. We took the Green trail NE to the purple-blazed Fire Tower loop, missing a turn at one point before finally venturing north into a vastly overgrown telephone line cut where I managed to see a purple blaze on a telephone pole almost completely hidden by prickly vegetation. The blazing to the tower is poor and the trail is completely overgrown for the last couple of hundred yards. To add insult to injury (and yes, we got quite scratched) the tower afforded the least inspiring views I've ever seen from a fire tower. The blazes west of the tower were absent but we took the access road anyway (which turned out to be Purple after all) until we found the intersection with Green, where we made a right. It was my intent to take Green all the way back to the car (making a circuit) but I took the wrong left and ended up backtracking a good part of the Green trail in the powerline cut back to the car. Not a bad idea, though, since the mosquitos in the shaded forest were becoming unbearable.

Total distance hiked today was 3.1 miles in 2 hours.

(Click on the thumbnail to bring up a bigger image in a pop-up window)

Parking in the powerline cut

In the cut

Heading east

Inside the forest



Tiny red eft


Laura dwarfed by trees

Car remains in powerline cut

View west in cut

It rained this morning

A rocky cut

Helicopter overhead


Right under the lines

The first snapping turtle

He was resting ...

... in the mud

Back in the forest

Boundary walls

Strange blue blazes


Now on Purple


Beautiful ferns

More boundary walls

First glimpse of fire tower

Laura coming off overgrown Purple

Laura out of the jungle

Budd Lake from top of tower

As far as one can go

Boat in Budd Lake

Laura on the tower

Delaware Water Gap in distance

Budd Lake

Laura on tower

Dan on tower [Photo by Laura]

Our gear on picnic bench below

Dragonfly at tower

Putting on more bug repellant

Laura and the tower


On Purple but we didn't know it

Another eft

Back in the ...

... powerline cut

Wildflower in cut


Old something or other

Entering the forest

Garter snake

Stream with Laura in rear

Snapper number 2 on trail

Getting a closer look

A face only ...

... a mother could love

In powerline cut heading west


Arriving back at lot

Snapper number 3 ...

... in SUV shade

Gently nudging him away

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