On October 28, 2008, people in NJ could hardly believe their eyes, it was snowing outside. There was snow, in NJ, in October! I remember looking out my window, and just staring in amazement. I never saw snow falling in my State this time of the year. Nowadays if it snows in November that is considered an early snowfall in this State. It was a total shock, and it was an event that provided one of the most memorable hikes that I ever did in the Garden State a few days later.
The storm, and it was a storm, not just a snowfall, came about as a dip in the jet stream caused cold air to come down along the East Coast, as a powerful nor'easter was working it's way up. The storm caused massive power losses in NJ and NY, with winds bringing down trees and power lines. The unexpected snow caused numerous accidents on the roadways, as commuters were on their way to work in the morning. It was not a happy situation for a lot of people.
The spokesman for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority was quoted as saying, "We're salting the roads and we haven't even gone trick-or-treating yet." He said that it was like a mini blizzard at one point. Accidents caused major delays on I-84 in NY. People were not accustomed to having to deal with this weather, at this time of the year. Later in the day the snow turned to rain in the lower elevations of NJ, but High Point received 14 inches of snow.
I watched the snow fall at my house in Central NJ, but by nightfall it was all gone. I was unaware that the Northern part of the State received a lot of snow, but I found that out later. To show how rare it is to have snow in October, in Central NJ, I found this fact from the Office of the New Jersey State Climatologist, "New Brunswick was covered with 1.5 inches, tying the record for the largest October snowfall and making it only the 5th time since 1894 that measurable snow had fallen in October
." I remember reading somewhere the next day, I forgot where, that this was the first time since the 1970s that NJ has seen this amount of snow in October.
My area was not affected by the numerous power losses, and there wasn't any snow on the ground the next day. That was not the case in the Northern part of the State. I read about the power losses, but it wasn't until a couple of days later that I saw some pictures, that made me decide to go to High Point. I just didn't realize they got so much snow there, the pictures really showed it, and I wanted to see it. From what I saw it looked great, because there was snow on the ground, but colorful leaves were still on the trees. The next day was Halloween, with a forecast of sunny skies, so I was definitely going up to High Point.
So after I was done with my overnight shift on Thursday night, I headed out, and made the drive towards High Point. It was cool because, as I was driving there I saw that yes indeed there was still snow left over much of the Northern parts of the State. I decided to hike in on the Appalachian Trail from Mountain Road, as I had yet to try that route. The first time I went to High Point, it was in August of 2005, and it was blazing hot outside. I always wanted to go back and see it in the snow; I just didn't think it would be in the month of October!
I arrived at the trailhead, and there was another car there. I didn't encounter anyone on the trail on the way up, or on the way back though. It was to be a day to be enjoyed by myself, except for the summit area. There was maybe 20 people on the summit enjoying the clear skies, snow on the ground, and color on the trees. They all drove there though as far as I could tell; I didn't see any other hikers.
The hike up to Lake Marcia was good. The snow was on the ground, but it wasn't deep at all. When I got to Lake Marcia I took the Monument Trail, but I took it in the opposite direction, so it would take me on the long route to the summit. (The Monument trail is a loop trail.) Here I began to have to deal with some unbroken snow that was deeper, and that I was constantly sinking into. I didn't mind so much, because I was seeing some incredible sights.
The color on the trees, with the snow on the ground was really awesome looking. Who knew if I would ever see something like this in NJ again? It really was an amazing hike that day. I was so taken in by how the area looked. I really was wishing someone was there on the trail to share it with me, but I was happy to be there for maybe a once in a lifetime experience. I was thinking that I could be seeing these sights as nobody else ever would for perhaps a long time. I was glad that it was a clear day, and that I was taking a lot of pictures. I look back on that day, and I can really see how special it was. I showed pictures of the hike to my family, and they couldn't believe it. Nobody saw NJ looking like that before.
Most people have long forgotten the storm on October 28th. I'll always remember what that storm brought. It provided the scenery for the best hike I ever did in NJ. I was fortunate to be able to see such a very rare sight. The beauty of that day will be something that I'll always remember. I don't know a lot of people who have gone to High Point, and have said that, but I'm saying it.
References Office of New Jersey State Climatologist