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Posts Tagged ‘Raritan’

IMG_3359_edited-1Brian from work informed Kathy and I of this group trip sponsored by the Sustainable Raritan River Initiative led by faculty and students at Rutgers’ Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy and the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. The initiative enlisted the cooperation of Raritan River Basin stakeholders from the public and private sectors. Its goal was to foster environmentally sound stewardship of this valuable resource. This initial public event was the Raritan River Collaborative’s inaugural Fall Float, a gentle, six-mile float from Piscataway to New Brunswick.  I have to say it was very well organized and run with tee-shirts, water bottles, food, rescue squads, cameraman and reporter and food and a bus ride back to the cars at the end of the trip.  All for $10.

The put-in was at Piscataway’s Riverside (Bakelite) Park which is just off of the River Road exit on Route 287.  Very convenient.  The take-out is 6 miles down river at the Rutgers Boathouse, Boyd Park at the Raritan River, New Brunswick.

DCC_2529_edited-1According to the sponsoring group, “The Raritan is a state treasure” therefore I assume it is soon to be called the PNC Raritan River. Rutgers and its partners are promoting a regional strategy to raise public awareness and conduct vital research leading to a better understanding of the threats to this resource and the development of strategies to protect it.  As far as I am concerned, I saw no pollution and it was phenomenally clean, so either their efforts have been very successful or we should move on to more dire situations; eh-hmmm, the Passaic River.  Nevertheless, I am not a chemical analyzer so who knows what the river is really like.  A big thanks to all for putting on this event, being a kayaker and all, I do truly appreciate it.  In the end, the event opened me up to the Raritan.

We arrived at 12:15 and everything for the day was perfect.  The weather couldn’t be better, 65 and sunny.  Actually the wind kicked up for the last 3 minutes of the float but that is really nit-picking.

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There were lots of participants, probably 40 boats and local river rescue squads using the occasion to practice their techniques.  Needless to say we were very safe and they weren’t needed.  DCC_2482_edited-1During the safety talk, the rep from the local save the Raritan River Coalition said the river was pretty low and we would likely have to portage a time or two, but due to the float’s excellent scouts, I never left the boat.  I probably would have had the same experience without all the help, but it was nice to have nevertheless.

There was no real excitement in the water, it was gentle with no rapids at all.  One or two rock ledges to avoid getting caught on, but that was it.  The water hardly moved but we did have a nice breeze at our backs.  You couldn’t have ask for any more help from the weatherman than what we got.

The water itself was super clean and shallow for the most part.  I can say I didn’t see one piece of pollution the entire trip.  That’s an astonishing fact.  It’s nothing like the Rockay where you see tires all over the bottom of the river and the Passaic where the ubiquitous water bottles get caught at every downed limb on the river.  DCC_2511_edited-1 Unlike those other two rivers, the Raritan was straight and boring and they don’t know what a low and difficult to manuever river is, when they were telling us about it during the safety talk.  In any case, the safety talk was in depth and informative.

The colors are a week or 2 away from peak in Morristown, but still they are present.  Down south of Route 22 in Piscataway, the leaves were disappointingly green.  Little color to speak of.  Too bad because the sky was blue with a few wispy clouds, a little more foliage coloration would have been beautiful with the weather.

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DCC_2494_edited-2We did see the largest quantities and varieties of birds that we have seen on any kayak trip yet.  To start with, while waiting at Bakelite Park to take off, Kathy spotted, believe it or not, bald eagles in flight just above us.  I luckily got a few shots off and almost got great shots, but they are pretty good nevertheless and the pictures confirmed our spotting of our American bird.  I almost didn’t take the pictures and didn’t try to get too many, but we never saw them again so I am happy with what I got.

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There were plenty of other birds including lots of migrating geese all day long in large formations above us.  In the water and in the sky we saw seagulls.  Then we also saw a really cool tree holding several cormorant soaking up the sun rays on some picturesque dead branches.

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Below is the timing of the day according the time stamps from my photos.

Speaking of photos, the pictures above are all available on my Picassa Google web ablum. Click here to view my Google web album from the trip.

  • 12:15 – Arrive in Parking lot at Bakelite Park, River Road (exit 9 of Rt. 287), Piscataway, NJ
  • 12:53 – Bald eagle siting while on shore waiting to take off.
  • 1:01 – Safety talk begins.
  • 1:20 – Safety talk ends with a welcome by the Mayor of Piscataway.
  • 1:30 – In the water.
  • 2:45 – We go under our first bridge at Landing Road since we went under the Route 287 at the start of the trip
  • 2:51 – We went under the beautifully sweeping Route 18 bridge.
  • 2:57 – We see the multitude of cormorant hanging out in the branches of a dead tree.
  • 3:14 – Go under the multi-arched concrete railroad bridge
  • 3:21 – Under the multi-arched stone bridge for Route 27 and we make our way to the final approach to the boathouse.
  • 3:35- With a burst of speed, I propel my kayak up the exit concrete ramp and step out of the boat without even getting wet.
  • 4:15 – I catch the first bus ride back to Bakelite Park and pick up the car and drive back to Boyd Park in New Brunswick.
  • 4:30 – Easy load and pack and up Route 18 we go.  A quick stop at Micky D’s
  • 5:15 – At home to feed the dogs.  Unloading into the basement was quick and easy and the Tivo of the Giant – Oakland game worked where I was able to enjoy the 44-7 trouncing of the Raiders. A great 5-0 start for the G-men.

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