I last climbed Mount Tammany back in August 2017 during a very busy weekend. Up to that point, this had been one of the most amazing views I had gotten out of a hike.
That day, the summit was crowded; one group brought speakers with them and were playing music (Kanye West in particular) and another guy was flying a drone. 20 people or so sat chatting and laughing loudly. It felt more like a bar than a vista. I knew I would have to return for another visit.
9 months later and almost 50 solid hikes deep, I decided it was time to return to Mount Tammany on a weekday, early in the spring, hoping to find some solitude atop this popular rock. My trip would not be solo this week. Christian Mena, a fellow PROACTIVE member, experienced hiker, skilled musician, and talented photographer, joined me to make this a tandem hike.
Despite some traffic and a brief delay, the ride to the trailhead was pleasant and relaxing. I met Christian in the parking lot along the Delaware Water Gap close to 9AM on a picture perfect morning.
The leafy, green mountainsides were closing in, in all their glory, as the bright sun hung solitary in a cloudless sky, casting shadows and spraying rays on the fleecy hills and peaks. This hike isn't a long one or an especially difficult one to complete, however, the steep ascents began almost immediately along the red-blazed Tammany Trail. Steps lead up to a steady, rocky hill which leads to a sharp rock scramble. I completely sweat off my sun screen almost immediately.
Making good time, we arrived at the first impressive viewpoint, about halfway up to the summit, within an hour. We stopped to take the day's first pictures of Mt. Minsi and the Gap from an outcrop under the spotted shade of leafy trees.
On my last visit, about 2 dozen people had amassed at this site, choking the opening and obstructing the view. Today, we had the location to ourselves, free to view and photograph the landscape clearly.
As we continued to move along at a good pace, we only found a few people passing us on their way down the mountain. Things were looking good for some quiet viewing. After continuing to climb, the ground leveled out for a moment, allowing for a sweeping view out to the northwest.
A brief stroll from this area led us right to the summit and we had arrived first, before anybody else. Others who started their hikes after us would surely be arriving soon. Carefully maneuvering among the precipitous, jagged outcrop, we took the opportunity to shoot Mt. Minsi, standing prominently across the river, and beyond.
Others eventually started to arrive and claim their places as clouds started to materialize in the sky and angular shadows shaded the hills. The crowd today was far different from the one I encountered on my first visit. Everybody seemed deep in thought or, at least, intent on quiet conversations while transcendentally taking in the view. It was nice to see the convergence of a handful of people who put in some hard work to arrive at a unique location. Their kind words and genuine friendliness were appreciated.
We spent a fair amount of time sitting, chatting, and taking pictures. After wishing the other hikers well, we continued to the end of the Tammany Trail and moved along onto the blue blazed Blue Dot Trail. The path from here descends into the forest on a wide, gravelly trail. After some time of slow and deliberate movement, we embraced the angle and ran down the hill, kicking rocks and avoiding disaster as we hurdled to the base.
It was here where the rushing water of Dunnfield Creek marked the start of the green-blazed Dunnfield Creek Trail. I last experienced this trail on a cold, winter day a few months ago. On that day, the destination was an ice-capped Sunfish Pond along the Appalachian Trail. Despite the frigid temperatures, the trail along the creek was as green as its blazes and felt as alive as it might on a fantastic spring day.
Today, an actual fantastic spring day, the trail was even more animated and vibrant. The rushing water and falls, walled with immense verdant hills, made for some intriguing shots and acted as fitting conclusion to the hike. Arriving back at the parking lot, at nearly noon, a few turkey buzzards circled far overhead off of the edge of the cliffs above. There were many more cars parked now then earlier when we arrived.
Christian and I said our goodbyes and returned to our vehicles. I wasn't as exhausted by this hike as I have been in previous weeks as the conditions and distance were not quite intense, but I felt very satisfied with the serene environment at the summit and the sufficient workout I received. This trail will remain one that begs to be returned to frequently and I will definitely be back to hike again in the fall for a different perspective.
[ Check out Christian Mena's work - @dahill_road ]