Stairway to Heaven, NJ

I know what you’re thinking. You clicked on this post, because you want to hear the song “Stairway to Heaven”. I’m sorry to disappoint in that respect, but I hope these images make up for it. When I say “Stairway to Heaven”, I am referring to the part of the Appalachian trail in Vernon, New Jersey. To be honest, I’m unsure if the nickname refers to the boardwalk or to the painful hike up into the thick fog of the mountain. Either way, it makes sense, but for the steep hike it almost makes more sense, because I felt like I was about to keel over and die by the end of it. Don’t be mislead, this was an amazing adventure! I felt so content with myself afterwards and would definitely do it again.

These photos are from Saturday, June 17th. I woke up to arrive at the crack of dawn and for driving over 3 hours throughout the day, I’m surprised I was not more exhausted. I did this mini road trip with some great company and I’m happy to have been as lucky to have these friends with such enthusiasm about photography, especially because I didn’t think I knew people who would voluntarily be awake and ready for 4am.

As a side note, during the long drive, I was introduced to Paramore’s newer album “After Laughter” and for the past couple days I have been listening to it nonstop and may be a tad obsessed.

I’d say this trip is broken up into 2 parts. The main part of the trip, where I took the bulk of these photos, is based off of the boardwalk and the relaxing hike we did prior to going up the mountain. The second part would be the exhausting (but well-worth it) hike up to a peak at elevation 1210ft known as Pinwheel Vista. I really was not thinking how difficult the hike would be; I wore jeans and Coach sneakers. At least I know for next time not to underestimate a mountain.

Anyways, I hope you enjoy these photos as I take you on your own little virtual journey through my adventure.

First things first, I had to take some test pictures for my camera settings. Here’s a tree.

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Here’s some itsy bitsy flowers. The plant pictures were amazing. The leaves caught water and everything looked so awake (even though I was nearly asleep). It was refreshing to be surrounded by all the green and all the healthy.

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Here’s a little snapshot of what a lot of our path on the boardwalk looked like: pretty photogenic and windy.

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These flowers looked untamed and it stood out to me as really beautiful so I captured it.

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As briefly mentioned above, the plants were covered with little droplets and I loved it. If you read several posts back, you know that I used hand sanitized to make this fake effect on plants, but no hand sanitizer needed here. This was alllll natural and at times–it looks faker! If you zoom into this photo a bit, there are even more drops than it seems at first. I’m really happy with how this shot turned out.

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I’m not going to lie. I really like this shot of Caitlyn. Unfortunately she was blinking while I took this shot. Because I’m so creative, I drew in her pupils. Now she looks at ease.

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This is not the last water drop photo.

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The boardwalk occasionally had little bridges.

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The water displayed some cool reflections at this hour. The angle seemed just right and it turned into a pretty fun result.

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Not going to lie. I took the photo below with Dan Osika 100% in mind. I know his taste too much. This shot is currently his desktop background and it warms my heart.

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I saw this branch growing plants in the middle of the field and it looked out of place, while also suiting to the environment.

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Lots of plant shots. If you notice in the second one below, there’s a tad bit of a spider web. It appears pretty cool and to me, its so much cooler because the spider ISN’T in the shot.

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The trail took us onto an endless pathway and another bridge.

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Thanks to Mark for being such a great model.

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The reflections look especially interesting in these images. This was while crossing the bridge. Ironically the bridge wasn’t as sturdy as I’d hope so I didn’t stay on it too long to take more pictures.

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We saw a little bunny and it kept hopping down the trail like it wanted us to follow, but didn’t lead us down the hole so I can sadly say I have not gone and returned from Wonderland. It let us get pretty close which was cool. The shot below is my desktop background at work and you’d be surprised how many comments I get on it. People really like rabbits!

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I was so upset when the plant was covering this little guys’ face. He’s so adorable and part of me didn’t want to move too much to reposition myself and then scare him away.

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I absolutely love how the shots below turned out. To me they look so fake and the drops are so huge, but this was all natural and looking at it somehow calms me.

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The boardwalk split into spots for each foot. There was some guy that came running on this path and I was wondering the entire time how he managed to maintain his footing well.

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The former angsty teen in me would have been disappointed if I did not take a picture of the train tracks.

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I take too many pictures of plants, but they’re like magnets; I cannot help but gravitate my lens towards them.

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Imaged below is Mark and Caitlyn waiting for me, because I lag behind way too often. You also cannot see the cows, but just outside the borders of this image are cows running for food.

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See? You can also see a great deal of fog. Believe it or not, it was worse a couple hours before this moment when we arrived. We kept making jokes about a murderer coming out of the fog and I’m truly thankful we didn’t jynx anything.

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After this farm, the path led us to cross the street to the other side of the Appalachian Trail. At this point in the hike/walk, we were given a decision to make: to continue hiking up the insanely tall mountain in front of us or to turn back and walk a couple miles back to the car. What decision did we make? Well, I think you might be able to tell based off the photos below. Enjoy the start of part 2!

I do not know what breed of flowers these are, but I love the combination of plants here.

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You may ask, what is that portal-alienlooking-thing below? I’d give anyone the same “I’m not sure” answer, but feel welcome to create your own thoughts based off its appearance. I will say, I was skeptical about walking through it. A weird portal in the middle of the woods? Not strange at all. Daring as ever, I walked through it…. and guess what happened……. absolutely nothing!

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Taking a closer look, it must have been a sculpture made by some creative individual. I’m not sure how old it was, but it was deteriorating a little. It appeared to be made up of glass bottles and concrete. Whoever the artist was who made this (if it was in fact an artist, not an alien), I admire your talent (and ability to transport this?). So if you are reading this post, I ask you give a round of applause for this strange beautiful piece of art and for the person who put this together.

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To add to the interesting environment that was the portal, this tree looked mystical. It even had different cloths tied to it. Part of a ritual? Who knows.

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I feel like I’ve seen the type of plant below everywhere in New Jersey since taking this photo, but before this moment, I have never seen it before and I think it looks so cool! Its like a new and improved pine tree.

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Until this was brought to my attention afterwards, I had no idea the plant below is milkweed, the one where Monarch butterflies lay their eggs. I have never seen one bloom pink or bloom at all really.

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The hike took us to elevation 1210 ft, which is impressive for an un-athletic person like myself. Although, I do hope to do more hiking! I absolutely loved it.

Fog. Fog. Fog. It turns out the hike to the top of the mountain was worth it for the view, but it was nearly entirely hidden by fog.

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From this elevation, we could even see the interesting ritual-ground in comparable size to that of Polly Pockets (I hope I’m not too old where no one knows what those are).

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The two shots below were taken on my phone’s camera. I love panorama more than words can express. My phone is new and if anyone is looking for an upgrade, I am so impressed by not just the camera, but all of its functions thus far. I recommend the Samsung Galaxy s8. As you can tell, the fog cleared up a little by the time I took these shots, so that was a bonus. It was an incredible view and I hope to return and tackle the hike again (in proper attire and on a clearer day).

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The hike back down was MUCH EASIER. I also was able to catch my breath enough to capture images of this little part of a stream.

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By the end of this trip, we hiked over 6 miles. *Insert muscles emoji here* I hope you enjoy this post! There’s much more posts to come in the near future so keep tabs on it; I’ve been on too many adventures recently to count and quite frankly, my posting can’t seem to catch up!

 

For those of you who actually wanted to view this post for Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”, here it is:

Stairway to Heaven

 

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