A spot of strangeness that pushes the borders of the Rutgers Rarities territory is the Chimney Rock Hawk Watch Point, located in Washington Valley Park, just off Route 22 in Martinsville. The woods that surround the lookout point are a part of the Watchung Mountains, which have an infamous history for satanic rituals, the Devil”s Tree and dangerous old mine shafts in the mountains. A friend who lives nearby encountered evidence of weirdness such as the skinned carcasses of squirrels tied up with kite string and left to dangle from the upper limbs of a tree. There is also the official local Native American legend of a murder that took place directly at the Hawk Watch Point, regarding a Sahican Indian Chief named Manamsamitt who bashed a rival”s brains out on the actual “White Rock” formation that juts out of the ledge. Of course, for me, having been a teenager in nearby Piscataway, White Rock was also known for being a hang out spot, where one could get high, get spooked, and usually have some encounters with the local police force.
With all this background info, the RR Team had some expectations of weirdness for an expedition in them thar woods. As is usually the case, when the expectations for strangeness are high, the outcomes tend to be small. On the actual Hawk Watch Platform, the Team noted that the “White Rock” was completely discolored by someone”s attempt to paint the rock formation pink and scarlet. There was so much paint dumped on the rocks that it pooled and was still moist and flexible in some crannies, despite the obvious evidence that the “painting” occurred some time much earlier- there were several rusted old cans of paint left in the nearby bushes. The overlook out to the quarry was fantastic though, and we definitely caught great views of some really huge hawks swooping down at sunset. Of course, some of the swooping aerial juggernauts proved to be big bats getting their evening meal, but it really is an excellent vantage point for bird watching.
We also took some of the trails and found the remnants of an old car wreck, possibly a VW bug, way off in the woods, along with an interesting altar-like rock resting at the foot of a pair of trees. No evidence of any ritualism was found however, except some crushed beer cans which indicated that the sacred high school ritual of drinking in the woods remains strong.
Further yet into the woods we found the waterfalls, which were a veritable hotspot for random couples making out in the dimming sunset. Blah, blah, blah. After crossing the falls the hard way via climbing slippery rocks and literally walking across the fall”s ledge, the RR Team accepted that this place was pretty stable for the night and that strangeness would have to be encountered elsewhere. One last interesting moment however occurred on the way out when a Park Ranger”s truck went plowing up one of the dirt trails at a very fast speed into woods that were labeled as private property. The truck went flying by so fast that I doubt the Ranger saw us, which we were glad of as it was after dark and the park was definitely closed. We were curious as to what the emergency was and where exactly the Ranger was headed to in such a quick manner. We listened but heard nothing, the woods were almost eerily silent at this time and thus, we simply walked back to the trusty RR-mobile to plan our next stop.