Archive for March, 2010

One year ago Kathy and I blindly walked into the Jersey Paddler’s Paddlesport show at the Garden State Expo, located off of Easton Ave. Exit of I-287, and with over 20 paddles now under our belts we approached our second Paddlesport show with a much different head.

One thing we knew is we had to equip a second car, my Honda Fit, with a roof rack to carry our 2 kayaks.  With that in mind and knowing they don’t necessarily install the rack for you unless you buy a boat with it, we bee-lined to the Thule dealer.  I quickly specked out the rack and got confirmation that they were willing to install my rack if I did it immediately.  Kathy went to pay for the rack and I pulled my car up.  It took 2 guys who had been installing racks all week end 45 minutes to get it on the Fit.  Thank G-d I got them to install it for me.  If we waited 15 minutes longer I would have been toast as the place got busy.  Great timing and strategy on our part.  I also discovered that my Fit has tow wholes in the front and rear bumpers in which I can screw a metal tow loop.  The car only came with one but I assume I can purchase a second from my local Honda dealer.  I was concerned because there were no safe places to secure the ropes.  The whole under carriage is plastic.  the tow loops will be great and convenient.  Now I am that much more psyched about carrying the kayaks on the Fit.  The whole installation cost$568 which includes the pair of hulla-a-port pro folding J kayak carriers plus a $20 tip for the installers.

After the rack was done I parked the car and enjoyed the rest of the show.  It was funny because while bee-lining to the Thule dealer we passed this tye-dye-haired generation-X dude trying to stop me and tell me about his kayak club, and I blew him off and told him I would be back. When I did get back I discovered a cool NJ paddling club that does lots of trips, free of charge, so we will have to check them out.  They were called: Delaware Valley Kayakers.

We also stopped by some petite lady who represented the lower Hudson River and she had some good maps and information about where to go in Manhattan We have to check out the Downtown Boathouse.org for information about the city launch points.  We got a nice New York City Water Trail Gu ide.  Some links to check out include the Hudson River Watertrail Association and the NYC Water Trail Association.

We then stopped by our Hackensack River Canoe & Kayak Club’s booth and paid $25 cash to renew our club membership for a year.  That was good cause our membership was set to expire on April 10 anyway.  We the ran into the leader of the Raritan River trip we did with Rutgers last year, he was with the NY/NJ Baykeepers and they seem to do Raritan River trips and have 4 planned this year.  We got a nice Tyvek Raritan River Access Map from them.

After these visits  sauntered into the Barneget conference room to listen to an excellent lecture on kayak opportunities in New Jersey put on by John Pagani of the Kayak East touring and instruction company about the different places to go in New Jersey to kayak.  It was a great lecture with great pictures and he split it between the lakes and river to go as well as the reasons to go places including nature man-made beauty, seeing the city, sunsets, etc.  This was well worth the listen.  He mentioned the following:

  • Splitrock Reservoir
  • Cranbury Lake in Sussex County
  • Delaware Water Gap
  • Paterson Great Falls and the Passaic River
  • Shresbury River
  • Cheesequake Creek just past the Driscoll Bridge
  • Arthur Kill, Ship Graveyard
  • Round Valley Reservoir
  • and More

Now we were ready to check out some accessories and spend a little money and then head home.  In addition, Kathy is still interested in the concept of getting a tandem kayak, where the two of us and the two dogs can all share one happy ship of fools.  We found a company called Mad River Canoe that makes an recreational plastic canoe in their Adventure Series that is almost a tandem kayak.  Probably the best and the worst of all worlds.   It actually looks very promising for the 4 of us.

Finally we both got a sea line watertight waste pack that we can wear while we paddle.  a great concept.  Retails for $35 and we got it at the show for $23.  We also got a spare paddle that I can take with us, just in case if you know what I mean.  At $55 the JP Rec kayak paddle made for Jersey Paddlers was the cheapest one we could find.  Made of cold aluminum, I hope we never have to use it.  Finally I got 2 leftover polyester cooling shirts for $4.25 each that will be great for kayaking or biking.  A good trip over all and most importantly we are now set for easy one-way trips down the rivers.


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The Matrix was still packed from yesterday’s inaugural paddle for 2010 and the weather for today was slated to be even nicer.  Kathy was scheduled to work at the Habitat for Humanity Restore at 1:00 so we had to get he back home by 11:45 which meant waking up early and getting in and out of the River in an efficient manner.  I took care of a few chores in the morning while Kathy got ready.  I got some bagels and we were at the Essex County Environmental Center launch site by 9:54 and in the water taking our first shots by 10:10am.  We are getting pretty good and unloading and loading the car.

When we got to the site we saw that the Passaic was even more flooded down here than it was from yesterday’s trip.  The 50 yard pathway to the river from the unloading area was only10 feet.  It was a pleasure to just put the boat on the ground and push Kathy in the water where the trail typically is.  For me, the sit and scoot technique got me in comfortably.

The water almost reached the parking lot.

We headed against the current, which was strong for the Passaic River at this location.  Nothing much to see except for the extent of the flooding that has been going on.  Houses along the East Hanover side of the river looked like they were still draining and recovering from last weeks storms.  There were no storms scheduled for today as the sun was out and strong at 1:00 in the morning probably getting into the upper 60’s or even the low 70’s.  pretty nice for the last day of winter.  Spring is scheduled to start at 1:00pm today, so this trip, as well as yesterday’s, represent our only 2 winter paddles.  While not quite as nice as today, tomorrow is fore-casted to be a very nice day, sun and clouds and in the 60’s, so I chose once again to leave the kayaks on the car in hopes that we can paddle once again tomorrow.  That would be a record setting 3 days in a row.

Today’s trip was very short, we went south past the train trestle for 5 minutes and turned around and took the current home.  The water was so flooded that the concrete channel dividers under the trestle were totally submerged and invisible.  This made going under the bridge easier than it will be in a day or two.

There was no color or nature to really enjoy except the leaf-less trees and black muddy river.  We saw and heard a few geese and the whistling tunes of small black birds hiding out in the trees.  Water bottles were littered amongst the downed trees in the river but it wasn’t too bad.  It was really the flooding and the expansiveness of the river which was really the sight to see and even with that, it was the warm welcoming sun of springtime on the river that got us out of bed early on this morning.

Based on the time stamps of the pictures taken, the timeline of the trip was:

  • 9:54 – Beginning to unload at the Essex County Environmental Center at Eagle Rock Ave.
  • 10:10  – Safely in the water taking my first picture
  • 10:30 – We cross the railroad trestle
  • 10:40 – Reach the southern most extent to the paddle and turn around
  • 10:57 – Last icture taken on the water at the take out point
  • 11:13 – Car is packed and we a ready to go home.

Flooded homes in East Hanover

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The second to last day of winter 2010 represented the first day of kayaking for 2010 for Kathy and I. It’s the beginning of our second season and I hope it’s gonna be just as much fun as our first. We paddled 19 trips in year one and this trip and and down the headwaters of the Passaic will be our 20th.   There were torrential down pours from a nor’easter last weekend so we thought we would take advantage of one of the nicest and warmest days of the year and the high water levels and take Friday off from work to do some kayaking.

With the high water levels I thought I would show Kathy the beginning of the Passaic River which I reached solo on a colorful October 29, 2009.  Today we would reach the that starting point of the river but it was not nearly as colorful.  Being the last day of winter there was no color to see but the brownish-black of the water and the greyish brown of the naked trees

From the photography perspective there wasn’t much to speak of.  There was no wildlife and no color to shoot with the exception of the colors of Kathy’s outfit contrasting the starkness of the outside world.

A couple with a tandem kayak on a Passat arrives just after us in the Lord Sterling parking lot.  While we got into the river first we explored the Lord Sterling Road bridge which is being rebuilt so they started heading up the river ahead of us.  They made a right turn on what ended up being a tributary called the Black Brook.  We followed them up the Black Brook as far as we could into the Great Swamp until we reached a downed tree that blocked the river.  From there we decided to turn around and head back to the Passaic.  When we got to the Passaic we continued upstream till we eventually reached the bridge,  We saw a couple of people standing who advised us not to go any further and to heed the “Boating Prohibited” sign on the bridge because Federal Rangers will fine you.  We turned around and headed back to home base.

I used the ram and scoot technique to get out of the kayak successfully without and issues.  Kathy soon followed and I pulled her ashore.  It took about 20 minutes to clean the boats and pack them on the car.  On the way home we picked up some Vieilli’s pizza dough for dinner.  Kathy took to dogs to the Denville Dog Park and I picked up cheese and stuff at the supermarket.  We left the kayaks on the car and kept the car packed so we could do it all again tomorrow morning.

  • 2:02 – Unpacking the car in the Lord Sterling parking lot
  • 2:18 – In the water and taking pictures
  • 2:29 – Heading up the Black Brook
  • 2:54 – Turning around at the end of the Black Brook
  • 4:08 – Heading away from the bridge on the Passaic
  • 4:51 – See the parking lot and stow the cameras in preparation for landing.
  • 5:20 – Rolling out of the parking lot.

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