Lehigh with a dog and a raft and a stand up paddle boarder at 3k

Lehigh River nearly Mega Release

By | Boating

After much back and forth we hiked down the damn dam (aka F. E Walter Dam) and launched in the rapids of doom which proved to be almost nothing, though certainly enough to wake you up and probably the steepest drop on the entire the river…and many hours later we made it the Glen.

Probably too many miles but really beautiful. Camping at Mauch Chunk Lake the night before watching the moon slowly traverse the lake was a bonus.

And a plug for the swiftwater rescue training course I took a month ago. At the put in at White Haven a couple of guys launched in a 2 person plastic pool toy quality inflatable kayak and promptly wrapped around a small bushy tree.

The Whitewater Challengers raft leader next to me first jeered, then said ‘we warned them’, then said ‘someone better help them’ That’s when I looked up from stowing the gear in my boat. More below pictures of trip….

Both guys were stuck on top of each other in the kayak-like plastic toy. Turns out front guys feet had slid under the footrest which was nothing but an inflated tube running across the boat effectively pinning him.  Back guy slipped into and under front guy pinning back guy. Only front guy’s hold on the tree with one hand was keeping both of their heads above water and neither of them had anything solid in the boat to push against nor a knife to cut themselves out.

From the swiftwater rescue training I knew right what to do.  Walking down along shore till I was just below them I waded in thru fast water over my knees into the waist deep eddy the 2 stuck paddlers were creating. One of the guides braced me while I pushed back  guy up river and free. The guy whose legs were under the foot brace took more pushing as he was stuck almost to his waist, but by staying in the eddy and pillow they were creating i was able to move him up. I even told them to swim feet up once they came free…Once he was out, in trying to get the raft free my footing slipped and I knew not to try to fight it and floated downstream.

By the time I walked back up they had a rope on the toy and were hauling it out. The pinned guy was quite nice about thanking me. I don’t think he went back on the water.

Knowing what to do and knowing to hurry but be calm and careful…thanks again Wayne Gman.

fireworks from hackensack

Hackensack River Fireworks

By | Boating, Trips

Well, it wasn’t my most successful trip, what with vast unexpected crowds in Johnson Park, rain, darkness. Still 7 of us managed to hit the water and see the fireworks after a quick trip home for extra rain gear. At least 2 folks missed hooking up due to the unexpected crowds…DSC00480.JPG DSC00472.JPG DSC00471.JPG

Below are some pictures taken from my boat in 2013 (as well as 1 of the NY skyline) when it wasn’t raining and I could use the good camera.

And paddling in the Hack is not for the very squeamish…a fair amount of litter, lots of mud and some downright toxic stuff down in the Meadowlands. But it’s also full of bird life that’s habituated to humans and some stretches like above route 4 or in the back channels of the Meadowlands can feel remote, even if you never get away from the sound of cars.

For anyone who wants to try it high tide is a lot better than low and I use this tide chart and there’s a whole ton of places you can launch on the Hack.   orig-on-sea_070413_tomhartphoto__mg_8124.jpg orig-on-sea_070413_tomhartphoto__mg_8123.jpg orig-on-sea_070413_tomhartphoto__mg_8122.jpg orig-on-sea_070413_tomhartphoto__mg_8120.jpg orig-on-sea_070413_tomhartphoto__mg_8119.jpg TomHartPhoto_092014_img_6756.jpg

emerites trying to stay up on their foils.

Mother’s Day America’s Cup racing on the Hudson

By | Boating

Spent Mother’s Day with my mother and a few hundred thousand others watching the foiling catamarans get foiled by the funky winds and tides of the Hudson. With the river barely a mile wide and 50 story buildings to windward and the outgoing tide just raging I’m sure it was seriously challenging sailing…but I do wish they’d been able to stay up on the foils. So what we saw was really a catamaran race. 3 years ago we would have thought that was exciting.

Still it was a beautiful day and how lucky am I that my Mother could enjoy it and deal with these massive crowds. And the few seconds we saw them up on their foils makes me want to travel to see them at a location with better wind…or maybe they’ll listen to me and do it again next year south and east of Liberty State Park.

Click a picture to see a full size slideshow. Escape will get you back to the site.TomHartPhoto_050816_img_5963.jpg TomHartPhoto_050816_img_5962.jpg TomHartPhoto_050816_img_5961.jpg TomHartPhoto_050816_img_5957.jpg TomHartPhoto_050816_img_5955.jpg TomHartPhoto_050816_img_5948.jpg TomHartPhoto_050816_img_5947.jpg TomHartPhoto_050816_img_5946.jpg TomHartPhoto_050816_img_5945.jpg TomHartPhoto_050816_img_5943.jpg TomHartPhoto_050816_img_5941.jpg TomHartPhoto_050816_img_5940.jpg TomHartPhoto_050816_img_5939.jpg TomHartPhoto_050816_img_5938.jpg TomHartPhoto_050816_img_5937.jpg TomHartPhoto_050816_img_5936.jpg TomHartPhoto_050816_img_5935.jpg TomHartPhoto_050816_img_5932.jpg TomHartPhoto_050816_img_5931.jpg TomHartPhoto_050816_img_5930.jpg TomHartPhoto_050816_img_5927.jpg TomHartPhoto_050816_img_5926.jpg TomHartPhoto_050816_img_5922.jpg

Vast crowds on the Great Swamp

Great Swamp of Patterson

By | Boating

Beautiful day, beautiful trip, thanks once again Bob.

Swelled by resent rains, the Great Swamp was several feet above it’s usually muddy early summer levels, allowing us to short cut a few of the s-bends, but also making us deal with actual current, especially after the channel got constricted below our lunch break on 22.

We started just below the Patterson Train station (going past station, taking left on dirt road and going more or less straight). With 21 people it took a while to hit the water, but it was a beautiful day and not a bad spot to wait.

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battoe moon at new bridge

Re-enactors bringing to life the running battles for Bergen County around Hackensack

By | Boating, Events, History

Another well done event by the Bergen County Historical Society highlighted by the Battoe ‘Moon’, a replica 18th Century bateau brought down to Hackensack by Cap’n Scott Monro. Nice to have a boat back at New Bridge Landing as the site is where it is not only because it was a convenient place to put a bridge across the Hackensack but also because it was a convenient landing for boats sailing up the river from New York.

The  Battoe rowed up from the New (and quite nice) launch site by the submarine Ling early on Saturday morning and back on Sunday.

Up at New Bridge Landing they had a number of re-enacted battles…Sunday afternoons crowds, thanks to a beautiful fall day, were impressive.


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approaching the west cornwall covered bridge

Housatonic with HRCKC

By | Boating

Another great trip led by Bob Rancan. Really beautiful country which is the biggest reason I’m posting this. With him mountains all around it’s the prettiest river I’ve  floating within driving distance.

Originally Bob had planned to lead a trip on the Shepaug, but lower water moved the trip for Bob’s annual escape from the traditional start of trout season in our home state of New Jersey so you don’t want to be on Jersey rivers with a group trip. Flow was about 500 cfs at Falls Village . The record low flow for April 7th made things a bit scratchy but eliminated the big waves and trickier moves….or at least those that happened fast. Read More

Log jam on the Ramapo

Ramapo River post Irene

By | Boating

Like visiting an old friend whose changed a lot….probably don’t need to tell any North Jersey Paddles that Irene made some changes.

Sweeper by dam

Fast water (for the Ramapo) under log jam at dam

The old broken dam south of Suffern has a bad sweeper in the fast water. It is viable from the approach. I think the metal rebar that used to stick out the side is gone, so once someone clears out the sweeper this section will be safer then it was.

The section between 17 and Halifax Road, affectionately known as the below the Mason Jar section, is a real mess with at least 3 portages. The most surprising is a tree on the right bottom side of the island by River View Drive…paddling back up current is a chore at low flow. I pulled out at Halifax Road so don’t know what it is like below that…

For anyone following the news the damage to the train tracks that run along the river is probably the most catostrophic….

On the plus side, the erosion and lack of trains offered a convenient new launching site. Driving north I hit traffic approaching Sloatsburg and pulled into Dave’s Sports Shop. Previously the launch would have been down a steep gravel bank, but the flooding re-sculpted the bank into an easy carry (albeit a little circuitous to get around undercut and twisted tracks). Unfortunately for paddles and fortunately for commuters the railroad has been hard at work fixing the tracks so by October it was once again a step launch. Read More

Wallkill River Saturday Sept. 17th with HRCKC

By | Boating

Saturday the 17th promised to be a beautiful day,  so despite Martin’s warnings seven of us showed up at the Sussex Queen diner. In Martin’s words “it’s high but ok. but with probable carrying/climbing/dragging over blowdowns and strainers – may be quite strenuous.”

What followed hardly lived up to its billing. The sun that made the day look so pleasant at the start disappeared behind the clouds not long into the trip but we never had to get out of the boats…in fact, we never got out of the boats at all, as the still muddy Wallkill flood plain was not too inviting for a lunch break.

But a quiet, beautiful, remote river….disturbed only by the sound of distant chainsaws cleaning up after Irene.

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Tree down on Otter Creek north of Wallingford Vermont

Irene in Vermont

By | Boating, Trips

Visited Vermont and also saw some destruction and good examples of how natural systems can recover more quickly.

Parks are a great thing to put in a flood prone area….tennis court is full of dried mud, a few muddy places on the field and trash in the fence. They’ll need to put more sand on the infield and wood chips on the playground….However, about a dozen low lying houses in town were seriously damaged.

Though it rained a lot I don’t think it ever rained as hard as a typical thunderstorm…it just lasted for half a day rather than the ½ hour of a storm.

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Passiac River Flooding thru Paterson and Fairlawn, NJ

By | Boating, Trips

Paddled down the Passiac thru Paterson just as it was coming down.

Though I saw (and shot) a few flooding homes mostly I saw inconvenience, not destruction, with streets blocked off, parks, yards  and swimming pools flooding. When floodplains contain things that can be flooded like parks, pools and farms floods are messy and inconvenient.

Since Route 20 which closely follows much of the Passiac through Paterson was blocked off the trip was far quieter and more peaceful then usual.

As far as safety went, there was a lot of water but in the open river it was just water moving quickly. Still, anyone without a healthy respect for strainers could get themselves in trouble as the water was flowing hard and many feet deep thru riverside trees.

Flooded, empty and peaceful Route 20 along the Passiac

Flooded, empty and peaceful Route 20 along the Passiac

For those of you who don’t know, when water flows thru a tree it doesn’t get slowed much. Unfortunately, canoes, kayaks and people do get slowed and stopped when they get strained thru a tree, so any strainer needs to be approached with caution and anyone without the skill and experience to avoid a strainer needs to stay off a fast moving river.
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