So recently I took a little photowalk along the river behind my condo complex. As I was setting out, I noticed a path heading in a direction I’d never seen before, and I decided to take it.
Right away I was rewarded with seeing some deer prints in the sand beside the river, which is not very unusual because deer are very common in New Jersey.
Still, it was very nice beside the water’s edge, with the sound of the river flowing and the crickets chirping in the early Summer evening.
The river was rather low though, because it’s been such a dry summer, which meant I could get to some places I normally wouldn’t be able to.
I eventually found a way across a little side stream, which led me further upstream…
…and then I found the path took a sharp turn up a steep slope, which – strangely enough! – had a rope tied off to help you climb up it. Very strange, considering you normally can’t get over here…
Once I was up, the path wound on a bit further, which led me to a bit of a… smelly… surprise.
Although all it had in common was the bad smell, I’m still calling this place the “bog of eternal stench.”
By this point, things were starting to feel a little weird – this was a strange new place, and it’d gone very quiet – you couldn’t hear the sounds of cars on the road where I’d parked, and the air had taken on that strange still feeling that you get in the deep countryside in late summer.
Looking a bit closer, I saw that the log that was lying in the bog (heh) had a lot of growth on it, which looked really neat, so I (very carefully) climbed out there to take a closer look. I honestly wouldn’t have been surprised to see faeries or smurfs or something like that crawling around.
Still, despite all of this, the path was clearly marked, although I don’t know who had done this.
As I moved further, you could just see that everything was absolutely covered with green, like an overgrown ruin of some sort…
Eventually I stumbled across this strange structure, although I think you can guess what it is.
The trail briefly exited onto a road at this point, and I turned around and almost couldn’t find the path I’d just come out of!
It really was a very well hidden entrance.
Heading back (somewhat) the way I came, I found myself next to this surprisingly pleasant pool (aside from the inevitable bugs).
At this point I had to retrace my steps somewhat, and returned to the path beside the river.
That’s when I stumbled across this – a lone bench, sitting beside the river, on a section of riverbank that normally would be submerged. Suffice to say, I was rather surprised to see it there.
That said, it was a lovely place to sit and admire the river.
The water was really calm at this point, and the reflections of the trees in the late afternoon sun was really just beautiful.
But then I noticed this weird stone next to the bench, with this odd symbol carved onto it.
I began to wonder if I had wandered into some strange world.
The path continued on, with more rope guides…
Then, things became overgrown again – this time, the overgrown remains of a ladder.
And yet, the path continued on…
At one point, the path went under this giant fallen tree, but as soon as I stepped under it, things didn’t feel quite the same anymore, and I heard the sounds of people again, so I decided this was the end of this path, and turned back and took a different branch.
This time, I followed a ravine, where I saw a washed out bridge – no doubt this was why everything felt so isolated.
Unsurprisingly, I ran into some more deer. Although I was actually quite close to them, I did not have a zoom lens on (it’s too dark for my zoom lenses) so I had to crop a bit to get these pictures.
The ravine eventually narrowed and another, smaller bridge crossed it.
This brought me out briefly to a path where the grass had been recently mowed. If you look closely, you can even see a groundhog I ran into – he waddled off back into the undergrowth after a brief staring contest with me.
The path then branched back into the woods, and once again things became green and overgrown.
At times the path was so overgrown that the occasional stone popping up was my only guide to keep me on the almost-vanished path.
It was a very inspiring journey, but eventually I found myself heading back the way I came.
And then, at last, I was back where I started, at the bridge crossing the river, and the sounds of the ordinary world returned, and everything seemed just a little bit duller.
Still, it was an interesting adventure, and a reminder of the hidden worlds we can all find in our own backyards, if we’re just willing to look.