Early in our relationship, when having a partner with a car was still very much a novelty, I read that there was a slim chance that a faint aurora borealis might be visible in northern New Jersey. If we could just get far enough away from the city lights, I was sure we’d get lucky! My gracious driver agreed to indulge me, laughing all the way down to the car. We jumped on I-78 and headed west.
(Not long after, we made an equally ludicrous dash north in pursuit of a partial lunar eclipse….)
There were some twisting back roads, a couple residential culdesacs that turned out not to be hilltops, some stomping around in the woods in the dark, and a lot of laughter…. There were no northern lights, but somewhere along the way we found ourselves in the deep country dark outside the locked gates of Round Valley Reservoir.
We’ve talked from time to time since about going back there by daylight.
Today was that day.
It took us a bit of wandering and accidental bushwhacking and two returns to the trailhead sign in the parking lot to find the real Cushetunk Trail, but that was our planned route for the day.
The trail offered some nice views of what it turns out is the deepest lake in New Jersey.
It turned out that this was the best trail for wildflowers we’ve been on since Lake Surprise!
Actually, I was quite captivated by the late afternoon sun on the grasses, too.
At the point when we decided to turn around before we lost too much of the light to get back safely (or take decent photographs), we stumbled upon a lovely riot of goldenrod, one of my favorite wildflowers as a child.
And there were many opportunities to photograph one of my favorite wildflowers of my adulthood, the magical ever-lilac thistle.
Unfortunately, upon further research, several of the wildflowers I photographed are invasive species, according to my handy PictureThis app, and as evidenced by how they blanketed the forest floor or open areas in many places.
Since the Watersedge Trail was still very much in sunlight, we decided to tack on the Blue and Pine Trail Loop, but the trail started to feel kind of crowded, so we looped back along the rocky beach.