April 23rd was a beautiful, sunny day, though a tad windy. It didn’t take much to convince my husband to come out of his shop and get outside. He had never been to Sears Island so that was our planned destination. After a few minutes of deciding whether we needed lighter winter coats or spring jackets because the wind was a bit chilly, we opted for the spring jackets. And then, we were off!
After about 40 minutes, we parked along the causeway and set out along the Jetty Road. I was still on the lookout for acceptable mud-season trails and the Jetty Road certainly met the requirements. It was a paved road, so there was certainly no mud there. The description online claimed that this avenue, “most of which was paved”, would lead to a jetty. I could not tell you what the unpaved section was like since we went a different route that day. Although the Jetty Road was wide with vegetation on each side, and we enjoyed spotting the leaf buds on the trees, it wasn’t enough.
Not far into our walk, we veered left onto the Cell Tower Road which was a gravel road that led to the cell tower 2 miles from where we turned off. This path took us through a more wooded section with more things to explore. Although the wildflowers were not blooming yet, we still spotted evidence that they were growing. For the most part, the ground here was firm with a few soft spots and minimal mud. Near the tower itself, there were puddles in the tire ruts, and there was indication that the vehicles used to reach the tower had gotten stuck in the mud.
We walked past the Homestead Trail, since one look down that route suggested that it was quite muddy. The next turnoff was the Eastern Ledges Trail, which went a half mile towards an overlook of the water and the beach below. This was a lovely little byway, through an evergreen forest. Along the way we found patches of ferns. When we reached the ledges, we noticed that the trail continued to follow the ledge for a bit. I don’t know if there was an actual point where you could get down to the shore since, after admiring the view, we opted to turn back towards the Cell Tower Road. It was excellent timing, because on our return we passed a group of 15 people heading towards the ledges.
As we got closer to the tower, we made a brief detour on the right to explore the Summer Homestead Trail. What remained of the Homestead were a few foundation blocks, now surrounding a vernal pond with lots of egg casings.
Back on the Cell Tower Road, we found a wet section on the side of the road filled with Skunk Cabbage. This was the first plant we found blooming so far. As we got closer to the tower, we watched an osprey fly towards the tower and land on its nest. We watched the bird for a while and then turned onto the Scenic Outlook Trail. We thought this quarter mile trail would take us down to the beach, where we could have lunch and then walk back along the shore, but the end of this path deposited us on a ledge pretty high up from the shore. We had no choice but to turn around.
As we made our way back up the Cell Tower Road, we figured the Southern Shore Trail (still marked as the Blue Trail on the sign) would take us to our destination. Unfortunately, just as we were getting close to the shore, we lost the blue markers and headed in the wrong direction. We had to backtrack through some muddy sections filled with Skunk Cabbage before we got back to the trail and then found the next blue marker. In less than 2 minutes we were on the beach.
While we enjoyed our lunch, we watched the ospreys flying overhead and 2 men searching for things among the rocks on the beach in front of us. Did I say rocks? After lunch we began making our way back along the beach. This section of beach was all rocks, and not just pebbles. At one point, we were hopping from boulder to boulder. Eventually, this gave away to sand. Having hiked through Pine Barrens, I was familiar with sand, and it was not my favorite ground cover to walk on. At this point, I could not tell you which was worse, hiking on sand or rocks. By the time we reached the stairs leading up to where we parked, I was not sure I would be able to climb the stairs. I was done for the day, but it still had been a wonderful day. We had hiked about 6 miles.