Silas Condict Hike Defies Description!
Surprise Encounter With Smoke Rise Neighbor Offering Memorable HospitalityMany thanks to Tom Edmunds and Janet McMillan from the Morris County Park Commission for putting so much enthusiastic effort into creating a memorable and unexpected Silas Condict hike that led to an encounter with unbeatable Smoke Rise hospitality!
As announced in Saturday 12/5/09 Silas Condict Hike, we met at Silas Condict Park for the last group hike of 2009. Approximately 30 hikers took part, including Silas Condict Trail Adopter Susan Schaechter, Tom and Janet, to hike a recently opened area of the park.
For us, it was a special treat to walk over to the park and visit the fun and interesting Silas Condict Casino where we met up with the group. The Casino building evokes the Roaring Twenties inside as I had hoped. A wooden bar along one side of the room faces a small stage area on the other side and I can imagine bathtub gin being bottled in the back and served at the bar in the front while scenes of 80 years gone by fill the room! There is quite a view with windows giving directly onto the lake. Thank you to MCPC Park Foreman Jim Neill for making the space available to us.
The trail was every bit as spectacular (really) as Tom had promised. A climb to one of the steepest points in the park, down along a temporary trail route that **Janet and Tom had carefully marked and taken a leaf blower to the day before**. Pretty special!
The trail took us along the Pequannock River and the New York, Susquehanna &Western Railroad. Shortly before reaching the North Gate, we climbed back up into the woods, hiking behind the Community Church of Smoke Rise, onto the infamous 'golf ball' trail and back onto the main Silas Condict trail.
Our path in the attached image is faintly highlighted in yellow.
Total distance: approximately 2 miles with lots of ups and downs.
Tom and Janet hope that the trail will soon be added as a new blazed trail offering park goers a respectable loop to hike.
My hike summary doesn't capture the most amazing part of the hike: an encounter with Smoke Rise resident and Silas Condict Park neighbor Harry C. Hicks -- the father of the “golf ball trail” -- who met us behind the Smoke Rise Community Church. At that point, we had no idea what to expect...
Harry made a cryptic phone call [something about 30 hikers rather than the original 17 expected], before leading us along the trail and through a gate into his property. You see us all assembled around a pond in the photo above. From there, he invited us INTO his house - all 30 of us! - where his wife Marnie graciously offered us her famous Christmas Hot Cider Punch made from only the best fresh spices and ---only she knows.
[Emma being an enthusiastic consumer of Christmas cheer sweet-talked Marnie into a tour of her beautifully decorated living room; she also met Barna the 18 year old cat.]
Thank you, Marnie, Harry and Barna, for sharing your hospitality!
The last 1000 feet back to the main trail of Silas Condict took us along the 'golf ball trail' so-named because it is whimsically marked off by golf balls - which, by the way, are easier to spot than many trail markers are.
One last note about the morning. As soon as we stepped back onto the main trail, it started to snow.
What a memorable hike, from beginning to end and all points in between!
[Below you'll find my trail file. Unfortunately, I lost GPS contact for a good portion. However, between the hike map image above and the trail file, you can guesstimate the actual trail.]
Map your trip with EveryTrail
Here is the slideshow of my photos from the Silas Condict Hike.
2010 Morris County Park Commission Hikes
Janet, Russ Nee and Tom are planning 2010 hikes starting with a rather loosely scheduled hike for January on the 9th at Lewis Morris Park (meeting at the Sunrise Lake boathouse). For more information, please do contact Tom Edmunds [firstname.lastname@example.org] directly.