This was a 10-mile paddle downstream and then back upstream on the Passaic River from from Bloomfield Ave. following Hook Mountain Rd. and into the beginning of Great Piece Meadow.  I started out the day thinking I would be able to go from Rags’ last day of agility class to a one-way paddle down the Passaic River through the Great Piece Meadows.  The plan was set up nicely with Kathy being dropping a car off around Passaic Ave. in Fairfield and then driving me and my kayak back up to the Horseneck Rd. crossing of the Passaic River in Montville.  When we arrived in Fairfield we saw the river was very low and the take out would be a mess and a and long trek so I chickened out.  More importantly, it was getting late and cool and the days was getting shorter so I wasn’t confident I had time to do the trip safely before I ran out of light.  I have never done this entire stretch before.

I therefore went to impromptu plan B.  I took the car alone and parked in the warehouse complex off of Bloomfield Ave. and entered into the River from there.  I had done this once before but that was when the river was flooded.  Today, the river was low and I had to lower the kayak down a steep embankment to get it into the river.  It was a bit tricky but I got in without incident.

The trip was 10 miles and just under 4 hours going down and up the lazy Passaic River.  There were no places that I had to portage around but it was close at times and the water level was probably as low as it gets.  The autumn colors were still around and there are some nice photographs of the colorful trees and nice reflections off the water.  That is what I was going for.  Wildlife was restricted to a close encounter with a blue heron.  Additionally, I came upon this farm in Montville that had some shaggy horses, sheep and goats that were free to graze up to the river.  So I was able to get a good look at them also.

I finished the trip at 3:15 and had a couple of hours to spare and looking back at it all, I could have easily made the journey through the Great Piece Meadows.  The only thing that could have stopped me would have been a leak in the boat or something.  When hauling the kayak up the steep embankment at the takeout point I discovered the boat  felt very heavy.  I  discovered the back storage compartment was partially filled with water.  Apparently, I did spring a leak and that could have been an issue on a longer trek.  It looks like a pin hole in the back of the boat but I now have to look at getting that fixed or getting a new kayak for next year.  Maybe it was good I didn’t do the whole  Great Piece Meadows paddle.  It will have to wait until next year.

Access point to the river was a steep embankment

The timeline of the trip based on phot stamps is provided below:

  • 11:33 – First picture on the water
  • 11:37 – Go under Rt 46 bridge (789 feet)
  • 11:49 – Go under Rt 80 bridge (4,526 feet)
  • 12:30 – Go under Horseneck Road bridge (3 miles)
  • 12:54 – Approach horses and goats
  • 1:06 – Turn around at blow-down (5 miles)
  • 2:03 – Back under Horseneck Rod bridge (7 miles)
  • 2:54 – Back under Rt. 80 bridge (9.15 miles)
  • 3:10 – Back under Rt. 46 bridge
  • 3:14 – Last picture on the water (10 miles)

To view a slideshow of the photos taken on this trip or to purchase downloads ($0.99/download), prints or other items, go to my SmugMug link below.  There is some really nice foliage in these photos to look at, so check out the pictures.  You can also vote on your favorite photos so let me know what you like.

Though it hasn’t rained much in weeks, I decided to take this trip at the headwaters of the Passaic River, accessing the river at Lord Stirling Road in Basking Ridge.  I knew I would have trouble navigating this part of the river with such low water levels, but with the leaves in full color, I decided to compromise on length to take advantage of the beauty of the moment.

The foliage didn’t disappoint on this trip.  The trees were red, orange and yellow and they reflected psychedelically against the smooth and still Passaic River.  The only real thing harming the beauty of the reflections on the water were all the leaves that have fallen making their way downstream and the occasional cloud that blocked the sunlight.

As soon as I got in I realized the water level was super low because the lagoon area by Lord Stirling Bridge was just a river and not the typical lagoon.  I immediately headed upstream into the Great Swamp but that trip was very quickly interrupted by a blow-down that I decided not to portage around.  I had only gotten into the kayak 5 minutes earlier.   If it was this bad at this juncture I knew I would be just as bad further up.  In the end the trip was a very short 2.5 mile loop.

I turned around and went downstream.  First I saw a Blue Heron hanging by the bridge, he never flew away and then I went under Lord Stirling Bridge.  This was definitely the nice part of the trip as the multicolored forest lazily hung out over the river’s edge.  As the sun came in and out of the clouds the colors changed subtlety in front of my eyes.  It was like a flash back to a Grateful Dead show.  There were many blow-downs along the way but I was able to got in, under and around them.  Eventually, I turned around at one of the more challenging ones about a mile and a quarter down the river and headed home.  I probably could have gotten through it without portaging if I wanted, but enough was enough.  On the way back the sun was shining the best and I got some of the best photos of the day.  I have to be happy with the photos I got on this day.  In comparison, I did this same basic trip on October 29, 2009, exactly one year earlier so you can compare the trips.

This trips timeline is as follows:

  • 12:16 – First picture on the water
  • 12:26 – See Blue Heron
  • 12:30 – Go under Lord Stirling Bridge
  • 1:06 – Reach furthest extent down the river and turn around
  • 2:05 – Last picture on the river

To view a slideshow of the photos taken on this trip or to purchase downloads ($0.99/download), prints or other items, go to my SmugMug link below.  There is some really nice foliage in these photos to look at, so check out the pictures.  You can vote on your favorite photos so let me know what you like.


I had somewhere to be on this Saturday at 1:00 p.m., but the weather was slated to be good and the fall foliage is just about peaking where I live, so I really wanted to get a paddle in before needing to be home at 12:00 noon.  With this in mind I decided to hit up the Passaic River at the access point where it crosses South Orange Ave. in Livingston.  This is 20 minutes from home and I hadn’t been there since the leaves started turning.  Additionally, I knew I couldn’t go far either since it hadn’t rained significantly is weeks and the water levels all over are still low and a few trees are bound to be down blocking my access.

One thing I noticed when I put in is that the brightly colored trees of Red, Orange and Yellow that are present all over my neighborhood are a rarity instead of the norm on the river.  This isn’t to say there wasn’t some spectacular foliage out there.  Hopefully I have one or two more trips in the fall foliage before it all disappears.

I was resigned to take the trip slow, capture the light, where it presented itself, and try to focus on photography of the autumn leaves.  Subsequently, there is only a short 2-minute video segment and very little wildlife to see or comment on.  The only wildlife I did see was a deer early in the trip but he did let me get close to him.

Based on photograph timestamps, the trip is as follows:

  • 8:39 – First photo on the water
  • 8:54 – Photograph deer
  • 9:00 – Reach furthest extent upstream I would go at a series of downed trees
  • 9:15 – After paddling downstream I arrive back to the launch site.
  • 9:17 – Go under South Orange Ave. bridge
  • 9:50 – Reach the furthest extent downstream I would go
  • 10:24  – Get back to the launch/take-out point and last picture on the water

To view a slideshow of the photos taken or to purchase downloads ($0.99/download), prints or other items go to my SmugMug link below.  There is some nice foliage just on the brink of turning.  In addition, there are some good shots of a deer aI got pretty close to.

This Monday looked as if it were to be a nice day following the weekend, so with the autumn leaves beginning to turn, I decided to take the day off and take a solo kayak trip.  Water levels in the area are still low due to a lack of rain but I still wanted to hit the close personal meandering of the Passaic to catch some of the burgeoning colors.

I guess the trees that grow along the river bank are less colorful than the trees I see in the woods around my neighborhood because for the most part they were green and yellow with an occasional colorful tree.  Additionally, the sun never came out in a good way.  While I got some good photos, I’m still too early to catch the leaves peaking. Additionally, the low water level limits my solo kayaking abilities in the Passaic River to certain areas.  In any case, a successful day paddling  on the river is better than any day of work.

I grabbed a roast beef sandwich at the new Fairchild Market and Bakery on the way to the river and off I went.  I parked at the convenient Essex County Environmental Center at Eagle Rock Avenue and the Passaic River.   Unloading there was quick and easy and the launch was clean and easy.  Easy seems to be the word of the day and the Passaic without a current was easy to go down and up.  When I reached the Rockaway River I made a left turn and took that upstream for a half-hour so so.  I turned around and retraced my voyage.  Back to the Passaic, back under Route 280, back under Eagle Rock Avenue and I was back where I started.  I headed upstream, past the abandoned railroad trestle and turned around and headed home.

While I was marginally disappointed in the photographic opportunities of the foliage, I was pleasantly surprised by a good chance to photograph both a blue heron and a turtle.   I was afforded pretty close access to the two of these creatures before they moved on.

To view a slideshow of the photos taken or to purchase downloads ($0.99/download), prints or other items go to my SmugMug link below.  There is some nice foliage just on the brink of turning.  In addition, there are some good shots of a hawk, a heron and a turtle.

Timeline of the trip based on the photo time-stamps was:

  • 9:28 – First picture on the water
  • 9:33 – Crossing Eagle Rock Avenue
  • 9:40 – Go under the I280 Bridge
  • 10:19 – Reach Rockaway River and turn upstream
  • 10:53 – Reach furthest extent up the Rockaway and turn around to head home
  • 11:13 – Reach Passaic River and turn upstream
  • 12:09 – Go back under I280 bridge
  • 12:10 – Photograph blue heron
  • 12:19 – Go back under Eagle Rock Ave. bridge
  • 12:36 – Go under abandoned railroad trestle
  • 12:38 – See tremendously large flock of black birds
  • 12:49 – Reach furthest extent up the Passaic River and turn around to go home
  • 12:56 – Go back under railroad trestle
  • 1:07 – Photograph brown-tailed hawk
  • 11:11 – Photograph turtle
  • 1:21 – Last Picture on the water

After dog agility class with Rags in the morning, we decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather on 10/10/10 and head to Split Rock Reservoir with Scraps and Rags.  I decided to DVR the Giant game, load the car up and head north to Split Rock where we could hopeful get in some colors from the changing foliage.  It was still premature but still very nice.

It was in the 70’s and sunny with a little breeze on the water.  Though it was picture perfect out there it wasn’t quite nice enough for Scraps so after a paddle across the narrow part of the reservoir we decided to head home.  The whole trip was about only one half hour but it was too bad because the photographic potential of the day was really good.  We even saw a few other dogs in boats on the reservoir.  Enjoy these pictures of Scraps on the kayak, it’s probably the last time you’ll see him out on it.

To view a slideshow of the photos taken or to purchase downloads ($0.99/download), prints or other items go to my SmugMug link below.  There are some great pictures of Rags on the water and the beauty of Split Rock on a sunny day in early fall.


At noon I put into the Meadowland Marshes at Millridge Park in Secaucus.  I was alone as I took this Friday off from work since it was going to be so nice out.  It was a beautiful day in the low 70s with a bit of a breeze, low humidity and not a cloud in the sky.  It was a very comfortable day for kayaking, so I spent two relaxing hours in the marshes, paddling in and out of the labyrinth searching for birds. I didn’t want to spend too much time in the water because I wanted to get home and catch some of the sunlight at the dog park, which I did.  I found a few birds during the day, nothing too exciting and then I went home.  I enjoyed a few Adam Carolla podcasts and that was the trip.

To view a slideshow of the photos taken or to purchase downloads ($0.99/download), prints or other items go to my SmugMug link below.  There are some bird pictures if that is the kind of thing you are into.

I had the day off from work and it was a sunny hot day so I decided to take Rags along with me a kayak trip.  I didn’t want to do much but get Rags on the water with me, get some bonding time in a hopeful take a few nice pictures and enjoy some peace and tranquility on the river.  I got all of that and no more.

With the summers lack of rain I was expecting the river to be low and it was as low and I have ever seen it.  Getting the through the railroad trestle just south of the Essex County Environmental Center’s launch area off of Eagle Rock Ave. was tricky due to the low water level.  Additionally there was also a fallen tree that was difficult to get through a bit further up the river.  Both of the these obstacles were much easier to deal with on the way back home.

This trip was virtually the same one we took with Scraps and Rags on April 26, 2009, which was Rags first tip on the kayak.   Since I was solo today and since it was hot and sunny outside, Rags was calm and well behaved.  She never did leave the comfortable bow of the boat I set up for her except for the one time she fell into the water.

To view the photos I took from this trip in my Picasa online album go to:

As far as wildlife, we chased a couple of blue heron but only got photos of them flying away from me.  Rags and I saw a few deer on the Morris County side of the river.  One of the deer was depressingly and obviously lame.  Thanks G-d Kathy wasn’t with me on the paddle cause she would have had me calling 911 to help the poor thing.  I also saw a lot of turtles sunning themselves on logs.  Like the blue heron, the turtles are tough to sneak up on and get a good photo of.  Fortunately, Rags the dog wasn’t going anywhere and I got some good shots of her.

In total, we were on the water for about 2 and one half hours.  It was easy and relaxing and we pulled over in the shade about an hour into the paddle and ate a roast beef sub I got from the new Fairchild Bakery and Deli on the way out.    That is about it for now.

Time line according to photos is:

  • 1:30:  First picture in the river
  • 1:43 Approach railroad trestle
  • 1:54 Catch blue heron taking off.
  • 2:10 See lame deer on Morris bank of the river.
  • 2:35 Cross power east-west easement
  • 2:47 Come to turn-around point
  • 3:30 See healthy white tailed deer on Morris riverside
  • 3:36 Approach railroad trestle
  • 3:48 Approaching Essex County Environmental Center
  • 3:49 Last photo on the water
  • 4:10 Pulling out of parking lot.