Late February is not usually a time for weather warm enough to wear a t-shirt and shorts, at least not in northern New Jersey.
Yet, this past weekend, that is exactly what happened. We got some unbelievably beautiful weather. To say that it was unseasonably warm would be an understatement. At some point, the temperature gauge in my car read 75 degrees Fahrenheit (that would be 23 degrees centigrade, and coming close to 24 degrees)!
Of course, unusually warm days like that (and frankly, I cannot remember the last time that we had a day in February that was quite as warm as that) tend to make me think that such days are not cause for celebration, but actually worrying symptoms of climate change. It just feels completely unnatural, because there used to be times when winter was...well, winter. When you would have to bundle up every day, as a rule. And that was especially true of February in particular, since it fell dead smack in the middle of the winter, and was in what some people have referred to as the "deep freeze" part of the season. I even remember that from my own childhood, when we would get a ton more snow than the winters we see often these days, and when a truly spring-like day in February (let alone a week's worth of them) would seem truly unfathomable!
When we have a day like we had yesterday (and frankly, the forecast calls for unseasonably warm temperatures for the entire week, until at least Friday), then you cannot help but scratch your head and wonder what is going on. Again, it does not seem like an entirely good sign, does it?
Now, all of that said, I am not going to go out of my way to be miserable throughout the day, and refuse to take advantage of the amazing weather. This is especially true when I have my son, like I did yesterday!
So, it seemed like a good idea to go out to the local wooded park at Sourland Mountain Preserve, in Hillsborough, New Jersey.
When we arrived, we were amazed to find just how crowded it was! Never have I seen it anywhere near this crowded (and I have come here probably at least fifty times over the years, if not more)!
The parking lot was not only overfilled, but even the surrounding grassy areas were, too. I was lucky enough to have someone parked on the grass pull out right as I was arriving, and so parking was not an issue. But it was good to see so many people taking advantage not only of a beautiful day like this, but also taking advantage of public parks to take a hike and get some fresh air!
Of course it goes without saying that the hiking trails were far more packed than I had ever seen them, as well. We never were out of sight or hearing range of people also hiking on the trails, although if we had gone farther, there might have been a chance that we could have possibly lost some of these people. Still, this was not so much a source of concern or stress, because it felt encouraging to see so many people wanting to take advantage of the day by being out in the wilderness, spending time in the woods, as opposed to going to a mall or shopping in general, or seeing a movie or out to a bar or simply staying home and watching television or movies or playing video games all day.
My son and I did the hike, and we stopped here and there also to do some mild rock climbing. There were some people there who really were making a point of doing some seriously challenging rock climbing, and it was fortunate on more than one occasion that they had these makeshift mattresses to help break their fall. Otherwise, it surely could have been a painful afternoon for them, as well.
We spent the better part of two hours outside, getting exercise, although I had to get dinner ready, which meant getting back home. So, we could not go for an even longer hike, although I felt grateful for the opportunity to enjoy this day with my son!