Tackle the Lighthouse Challenge of NJ

By Susan Krysiak (Sept. 10, 2022)

I love climbing the Cape May Lighthouse. I feel so fortunate as a Cape May MAC (Museums+Arts+Culture) member, that I can explore it for free whenever I feel the urge. Climbing each of the 199 steps to the top is physically and spiritually exhilarating, especially if I remember that millions (over 2.5 million since 1988) have felt the exact same steps beneath their own sneakers, or shoes, or 19th century boots, the same thigh burn, the same sweat on the back of the neck, while doing so.

Lighthouses are permanent fixtures that help us remain anchored to our past while inspiring hope about our future. There is something beautiful about a lighthouse, especially if it still functions as a beacon for mariners, pointing the way to safety for those who find themselves desperately lost on a rough sea in dangerous weather. GPS, of course, now is the primary navigation tool most essential in guiding boaters. But a light that leads us to the safety of shore will always be a friend to the mariner and to those on land in need of direction.

Of course, each climb is unique to the person experiencing it. What of the Lighthouse Keeper in 1865, say, whose climbs hauling fuel to the top were dutiful and necessary to those whose lives depended upon it? What of the father and daughter, in 1990, say, the father trying to mind his 4-year-old daughter whose hand just barely reached the handrail, so excited and nervous, the father silently overcoming his own subtle fear of heights? What of the couple whose romance blossomed during a trip to the top a couple of years ago, who now find it the one place they wish to return as the setting for the nervous proposal to spend a lifetime together? So many stories.

Wonderfully, there are plenty of lighthouses in New Jersey to explore in addition to the one in my own backyard, and the Lighthouse Challenge of New Jersey, Oct. 15–16, is the perfect way to explore them all.

I know from experience. In 2013, I drove over 500 miles in two days and stopped at 11 lighthouses, two lifesaving stations and two museums for the Lighthouse Challenge of New Jersey:

It was an amazing experience and I encourage you to do the same. This year, 2022, the theme is the Year of the Keeper, celebrating all the keepers who kept the light burning.

Visit lhchallengenj.com and begin your planning now. This year, nine years later, I plan to tackle my second Lighthouse Challenge. I hope to see you there.



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