With the temperature expected to be close to 70 degrees in late December, I knew I had to get out to the woods somewhere. A quick text to Delia confirmed we’d be heading for the Delaware Water Gap to hike Mt. Minsi.
During our 90 minute drive to the Gap, it rained intermittently, and heavy at times. But the forecast only called for passing showers and we hoped that it would be dry by the time we got there.
Arriving at the parking area, the rain had stopped but we were greeted to wet conditions. Snow melt and some remaining snow made the bottom of the mountain a mix of snow, ice, slush and standing water.
My thermometer read 65 as we started our hike but the snow melt combined with the humidity made for some strangely local pockets of warm and cool air.
We made our way past Lake Lenape, where a cool breeze came off the ice covered lake. The humid air mass hovering over the icy lake created a dense fog that stayed stationary over the water.
Soon enough we were trudging through mud and ice as we made our way up the mountain. There are a few vistas as you move higher in elevation. We soon reached the first, which usually contains a nice look at Mt. Tammany and the Delaware River. The icy river was visible below, but the NJ side of the Gap was almost completely obscured by fog and low lying clouds. While unable to see the mountain, the view was still beautiful as the low lying clouds moved through valley.
We pushed on up the mountain. We arrived at Eureka Creek, the only official stream crossing of the hike. The stream was as high as I’d ever seen it, flowing heavy from the melting snow. We rock hopped gingerly across the swollen stream. The air temperature seemed to drop 20 degrees in the area around the stream.
But soon enough we were climbing more steeply up the mountain. The air became so warm, I was able to take off my long sleeve layer and hike in just a t-shirt.
We reached another would be vista – one that is usually a perfect view of Mt Tammany. But found the fog to be denser than at the lower elevations and the view to be nothing more than a think mass of grey.
We continued on to the top of the mountain where we ran into the only other hikers we would see that day.
The view from the top usually showcases the Delaware River and the border between Pennsylvania and New Jersey looking south. But again, the view was obscured by the dense fog.
We took a short break and the fog moved out briefly. The icy river was visible for only a moment below. The fog gave the whole view a surreal atmosphere and the line between the river, the land, and the sky was obscured.
We continued on down the A.T. for a short while. The trail is level and fairly flat for about another mile before reaching Totts Gap. We did not go as far as Totts Gap and turned around after a short walk down the foggy trail.
Instead of taking the A.T., we decided to follow the fire road back to the car. The walk was fairly easy, with the gravel road gradually descending down the mountain.
Toward the bottom, the trail became very wet with runoff and more and more snow started to appear. The last mile or so was very soggy. There was even a few fresh bear tracks in the snow, surprising with how cold the weeks before had been.
We made our way past Lake Lenape again just as a brief shower started to move in. The warm rain added even more fog over the lake.