We woke up to the distinctive sound of a donkey braying at full volume. The braying came in response to Orion’s excited barking upon his discovery of the two donkeys in the field near by. And, of course, Orion had been sure to go stick his nose under the kids’ tarp to wake them up before he went exploring for donkeys. So the parents crawled out of their tent at 5:30 in the morning to find that the kids had already packed up their hammocks and were down trying to get the donkeys to eat wild flowers out of their hands. The braying continued.
We broke camp relatively quickly, but even with the early rising we were slow to depart. Cartwheel clowned around in All In’s shoes. We enjoyed an outdoor shower, had coffee and bagels and soaked in the scenery. A new backpack on the shed porch let us know that Spider Man had arrived sometime during the night. Neither he nor Princess North Star were stirring when we rolled out around eight. We quickly covered the mile and half of trail and half mile of road walking to take us to Unionville, NY, where we enjoyed more coffee and breakfast sandwiches at the general store and picked up Orion’s new pack from the post office. The kids played on the local playground.
On the way out of Unionville, with the trail still in NJ, we enjoyed some scenic walking through New Jersey wetlands. This was an impressive section of trail with lots of bird and other wildlife sightings. New Jersey really seems to know what it’s doing when it comes to wetland conservation and restoration (at least with some projects). As we walked, hundreds of crickets ricocheted themselves off of our legs.
Toward the end of the day, we somehow crossed a road not realizing there was an ice cream stand a mere tenth of a mile away. So we skipped ice cream and instead headed up a steep climb in the hot afternoon. A welcome spring was located three quarters of the way up the hill and we paused to refill our water and to dump cupfuls of cold spring water over our heads. We paused again for a break at the beaver pond where Cartwheel continued to listen to “The Little Princess.” Audiobooks have proved a welcome change of routine over the last couple days. We save them for the end of the day as a reward for a hard day’s walking. When I asked Cartwheel if it was a good book, she looked at me and answered with a single ambiguous word: “sad.”
Then we headed into camp late where, joined by Cape, we set up the hammocks and tent, made dinner, and tucked in for the night.