View Full Version : Sloppy Shelter-Rutherford
I stopped for the first time at the Rutherford Lake shelter in NJ. This shelter is at the bottom of a fairly steep hillside...
I am sorry to say that the site is very "dirty"...littered with empty ziplock bags that once held peanut butter and jelly....half burned trash....beer caps...bags of tuna fish...empty tupperwares...and an unlocked bear box despite a functioning lock...etc. Normally, when camping in bear country, I wouldn't stay at a site in this shape, but since I arrived late in the day, I cleaned up what I could...locked smelly trash in the bear box before setting up my tent for the night.
Around 4:15 a.m. a black bear came foraging around the site...(gee what a surprise...) He circled close enough to the tent that his breathing woke us up)...he stayed about 40 minutes circling and tugging on the bear box looking for scraps...He didn't seem to want to leave even when we made lots of noise.
I reported the site condition to the park Ranger who said that the site would get cleaned up...I sure hope so, because if not, it will lead to the possible trapping of an innocent bear and a potetially dangerous situation for those hiking the trail and choosing to stay at this shelter.
NJ and NY shelters get a lot of use, and not always by the neatest ( or brightest ) people. I think Rutherford or Gren Anderson shelter were closed for a short time about 10 years ago because someone smeared peanut butter all over the walls. The bears were having parties every night at the shelter. A ranger told me this.
Also, a bear told me that they have a tremendous people problem in NJ.
All shelters suck. They represent what y'all are trying to get away from. You've got thousands of acres around you. Camp.
The ATC should tear down 99 percent of the shelters on the trail. One shelter every two or three hundred miles is okay for emergency use. If the ATC closes the shelters the go lighters will have to go heavy, or stay home. Poor cry babies!!!!
One shelter every two or three hundred miles is okay for emergency use.
I'm not offering an opinion on whether shelters are good, bad, or otherwise, but how would sheltes every two or three HUNDRED miles be at all useful for an emergency?
"Oh no, Severe thunderstorms are rolling in. At least its only 75 miles to the nearest shelter. We should be there by the end of the NEXT storm"
I loved the NJ AT.
the trail is easy to hike, there is High Point, a couple of fire towers over the short distance across Jersey, I've seen black bear both years there, I like the board walk, last year I found more than 2 pounds of morrells there and ate them(many of them raw, yummy) , and Jersey have one of the best maintainer/caretaker of the trail working that area "Desperado".
I've never been to Rutherford because it is a ways off the trail and I stayed at the SS both years but that's Jerseys' one down fall, many of the shelter buildings are so far apart and they are dank. everything else i liked about Jersey.
I stayed at this shelter just a few weeks ago. Got there after dark, I had stopped to talk with Desperado and then took a steep detour for water. I had planned to camel up and stay up somewhere on the ridge, but I could not find a decent spot, lots of undergrowth. So I went down to the shelter. A couple of idiots had started a fire. THERE ARE NO CAMPFIRES ALLOWED IN NJ. This was posted at all shelters I passed. I got in late, the shelter was full and many tent spots taken. I was just looking for a good spot for my tarp, which I found after searching a bit. I slept in and everyone was gone by the time I got up. Since I wasn't in a hurry, I stayed 'til lunch. The shelter did seem cluttered, with lots of water jugs. As this shelter is a bit off the trail and down a steep hill, I think it gets visited less often. I don't think Desperado hits this one, at least not often, as there does not seem to be an easy access point.
The shelter did seem cluttered, Leaving the bear box open is probably an isolated event. I passed many of these on my trip, and I didn't find any open. What I liked about this site was that it seems to be an old homestead field, with a nice rock wall surrounding it. When I arrived that night, there were thousands of fireflies, it was really cool. Plus, when I stayed the next morning, there were numerous birds to watch, a hummingbird flew in to feed on some flowers growing up against the shelter, and a bird's nest was even located under the eaves. Had the place to myself for breakfast and lunch, and I dried out some gear. A few mosquitoes though.
Up until 2 years ago, this shelter was less used. It's at the southern end of High Point State Park and it's off quite a distance off the AT, down the edge of Dutch Shoe Rock. DirtyBird and his crew of what I can only guess are eagle sccouts and dedicated hikers have cleaned it up, taken care of a lot of the undergrowth and tick/mosquito problems reported in the past. I don't think Desperado covers this one often, but I was there in June 05, and it was pristine. A lot of rye grass growing around the site, blueberrys were just starting to pop, mountain laurel was in bloom as were the black rasberries in the area.
DONT swim in the lake....it's privately owned by some hunting club/religious group (and posted). Besides...bears in the area are VERY territorial.
This shelter IMO gets a bad wrap, when in reality, its a beautiful site that generally doesn't have many people at it. I spent the night in my tent several yards from the shelter about 2 weeks ago. The tall grass all around the shelter has recently been cut and there is unlimited tenting around the area. Despite the Companion stating there is no privy, there has always been one. It's up the hill a bit behind you if facing the shelter. There is excellent tenting also a couple hundred feet behind the shelter, good for groups or those seeking some privacy. The bear box was working fine and was clean. The area was fairly clean and I hauled out what little refuse was there. There have been no major incidents involving bears, but the register does list a few sightings.
The Lake isn't desireable to swim in and is on private property. The frogs in the pond next to the shelter will lull you to sleep though. Overall I find this to be a nice spot. Thru-hikers don't like it because its .4 off the Trail but its a perfectly good spot to spend a night. The trail down to the shelter is decieving because it looks so steep from the AT but levels out eventually. The spring is shallow and the stream is running fairly slow but it is a source.
The views from the top of the ridge, where the AT connects are excellent over to Lakes Rutherford and Marcia. Really some nice ambiance in the evening or at dawn.
I spent a night at this shelter on July 29. It was fairly clean, though the bear box had some uncooked spaghetti and unopened coffee and tea bags. The shelter was somewhat decent, but like A-Train said, it's a ways off the trail. The spring was particularly low when I was there, but you can get what you need. The privy is in poor shape now; the seat is pretty much independent of the hole itself.
Also, there were a ton of bugs. A TON. I think I got 8 of the 10 bites I got on at this campsite (granted, I was only out for 3 days on a 17 day hike, but yeah...). All in all, if you really need a place to stay, stop in. Just have plenty of bugspray, and a willingness to dig a hole. : )
Spent the night at Rutherford shelter 4 Nov 2005, having stepped onto the AT that afternoon at the highway crossing near Highpoint. The blue blaze trail to the shelter could be a problem at night. The spring was running and cold. The shelter is rudimentary, with a plywood floor about 8 inches off the ground. The bear box was a funky old one, barely usable with a rust hole in the bottom. I slept comfortably and departed about 6:30 AM, no evidence of bears.
All shelters suck. They represent what y'all are trying to get away from. You've got thousands of acres around you. Camp.
Just an FYI, but in the Ny and Nj sections of the trail, if you are in a state park, you must state at a shelter or face a fine. There are signs EVERYWHERE explaining this in no uncertain terms. I was reminded again, when I went to the trail office at High Point State Park.
Any yes, in 2006, this shelter still sucks considering it has an ATV trail right to it for the rangers to take care of it.
And the steep hill part the first person talked about, boy dont I know it.
I should give a better report since I was just there...
The spring/creek was 4 in deep and tasty as heck. NJ does have great water.
The bear box is brand new.
I never did find the privy as there are no directions posted.
Huge tent area 50 ft behind the shelter, very level and soft.
Didnt see many good hammock sites, though that is not my specialty.
Ticks and skeeters were a major problem as was the two huge wasps nests in the shelter's eaves.
New ridgerunner's name is Tick. He's from Georgia and a real nice guy.
grass handnt been cut all year, so hence the tick problem.
BEWARE THE HILL!!!! Mashipocong ( or whatever ) is only 2 miles away and much nicer, easier to get to, IMO.
the onondaga kid
I would have to agree that Mashapacong is superior except in the water department. Rutherford had an easily acessible spring along the blue blaze trail. It was a little low and still, I was glad I had my iodine, but with no source near Mashipacong it was a welcome sight. The area did seem cluttered with debris, the grass was very tall and tick infested, if there was a privy around I couldn't find it, and while heading up the iris trail to the right of the shelter I startled a bear that didn't seem to have a good escape route (although that was probably just an isolated incedent). The bear box looked like it was in good shape although it had some trash left in it. Picknick table was in good shape. Oh, and it seems like the square bench configuration is just too tempting as a fire ring, as there was lots of ash there.
Summary: Water up at Rutherford if you need to, but stick with Mashapacong if you need to spend the night.
I was a NJ Ridgerunner last season. This shelter gave me a lot of problems, with all the garbage and a HUGE fire ring people kept building. the log benches set up around the would-be firepit doesn't help, I don't know why they're there. But the site is nice, it used to be a home site, which is why there's lilies and other "domestic" sorts of plants around. Big lawn for camping on, which is good because it's pretty buggy, and the interior of the shelter always felt dirty to me, no matter what. There's new bear boxes at all the NJ shelters, which is very nice. Nice new mouldering privy too, they're working on new privies at several of the NJ shelters, Gren Anderson got a new one as well, so did Pochuck and Brink Road Shelters.
I personally liked Rutherford more than Mashipacong, there's a great view from the AT just before you head down, and having water is a big plus.
My wife and I spent the night of 2/23/12 - 2/24/12 here and everything seemed to be in good shape.
The shelter had a good broom and once I swept the floor it was fine for sleeping. No garbage in the fire pit,and the privy and bear box are in excelent condition. The field in front of the shelter looked good covered in snow when we woke up in the morning :)
Somebody's got a sense of humor because there's a dish antenna on the roof and an electrical outlet in the rear wall, but neither seem to work?!? :-?
Glad to read that Rutherford shelter is currently in good shape. It wasn't in that condition this past May 2011. I spent the night there in a hammock near the entrance to the field.
I found lots of trash in the bear box, including heavy plastic dishes and metal dinnerware encrusted with leftover oatmeal. Trash was all about the shelter area. The log benches had been pulled into the illegal fire ring.
I reassembled the benches and hiked out as much of the trash as I could. Left the dinnerware, but reported everything to Victor at Highpoint SP HQ.
Spent the night there last night with our Boy Scout Troop, South Jersey Outdoor Club, 5 thru-hikers and Ridge Runner, Hal (Kite '10). Grass was tall, fire pit was back, which had been recently broken up and subsequently broken up at Hal's request by my son, although benches were left behind. Shelter was in pretty decent shape, as was privy and bear box. Not a fan of the low to ground shelter floor plan, table in okay shape. Mosquitoes a bit obnoxious, stream good. Lots of birds, frogs, and a few bats in the night, but not much else. Slick walk from the Trail to get to the shelter. Hal and the troop took out whatever trash there was, mostly our own and old books that had been torn apart for fire starter materials. Seems that they can't get the fire issue under control. Maybe scattering or removing the benches all together and raking out the ash pile might help. We walked out on the Iris Trail leading out from the shelter - nice little trail - wet, but nice for out boys. Thanks for the hospitality, Hal.