I feel like all I’ve heard of New Jersey are jokes from neighboring states, but today I avoided the noxious cities and notorious shores for an inland trip through autumn leaves and flood-swollen rivers in the Delaware Water Gap. The route seemed quiet and peaceful, until I glanced in the rearview at the stir of fallen leaves in my wake, an explosive fireball chasing me down the forest roads.
High Point State Park wasn’t charging an entry fee this late in the year, but I stopped lower to hike the Appalachian Trail a short distance instead of the paved ramp to the summit. It was cold, with a blustery wind whenever the trail broke onto an overlook outside the safety of the trees. Amid the trees, the wind howled high above me and the treetops shook their fiery leaves down in angry waves.
The summit is marked by a tall obelisk reminiscent of the Washington Monument, with a spiraling staircase corkscrewed through the core and a young mom clinging to the railing with white knuckles as she nervously watched her kids jumping and swinging from step to step. I circled the landing slowly, staying well away from the edge in this mighty wind, enjoying New Jersey from a hazy distance.
About the beer:
While there isn’t a direct line from the iconic 12-lane NJ turnpike to peaceful Route 23 winding through the scenic green core of the Garden State, exit 16W could’ve done the job. I’d selected the popular Exit 16 from Flying Fish, named for the Turnpike’s Meadowlands exit and brewed with the wild rice that used to grow here before it became the pungent home of the east coast’s landfills. I couldn’t taste any rice, but it’s a solidly strong Double IPA, starting off with sweet smooth hops and finishing with bitter biting hops, surprisingly easy to drink but a leaving an unexpected knockout punch.