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Sports

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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Christopher Sabo after hauling in the winning touchdown pass.

Paramus 20 Northern Valley Old Tappan 16 HS Football

By | Football, Sports

Exciting…I know I shouldn’t admit it, but this was a great game…certainly the most exciting I have ever been at. Not the Giant’s 2007 Superbowl victory (the most exciting game I ever saw), not pro over even college sports, but still good players trying hard.
Being on the sideline (trying to stay out of the way of the coaches way) puts you right in the heart of it.

I was photographing (not reporting) so did not get the details of time and score but….going into the game they were ranked 9th and 10th in New Jersey.

In the final minutes of the game, Paramus leading 14-13, Old Tappan marches the length of the field and settles for a field goal from the 10 which Paramus blocks. Paramus lets the ball sit on the 2 thinking the ball is dead when they could have picked it up and advanced it, easily getting 10+ yards as they had people in the backfield waiting for the trick play…backed into their end zone, Paramus takes the ball 88 yards to the 10 where they fumble it away. OT marches back and kicks a field goal with less then a minute left Paramus takes the kickoff and marches the length of the field to score.

Old Tappan forces a fumble on the 10, marches the length of the field and successfully kicks a field goal. Paramus, with less then a minute left takes the ball the length of the field and scores on a pass to the end zone….and Old Tappan can’t close it out in the final 20 seconds.

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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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Surviving Irene

By | Boating, Events

We have survived.
As we live only a block from the tidal part of the Hackensack River so our area had a voluntary evacuation….a voluntary evacuation? What’s the difference between that and a vacation? We did move the car out of the basement parking lot and filled a bunch of water bottles and, being campers, we have enough candles, flashlights, propane and the like to survive comfortably for weeks.

The Hackensack, despite the  pictures below, got away fine, but some of the other towns in the are have some serious flooding  ….maybe someday the powers that be will understand that dams only control flooding if they are drawn down so that they hold water during heavy rain…and of course developing in a flood plain is seldom a good idea. The powers that be will say that the rain was so severe no one could anticipate it (despite it being less severe then what meteorologists had forecast). Heard NJ Gov. Christie on the news on Thursday night saying he wasn’t going to open the flood gates at Pompton Lakes until he had convincing proof that drawing the lake down would lessen the flooding. How convincing off a proof do they need….though of course the problem is development in low lying flood prone areas. For many houses along the Pompton and Passiac this will be the third time they are being flooded in 5 months.

Still, as you can see, the flooding is impressive, though for the most part it’s of parks, parking lots and old buildings…things that can survive flooding.

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Delaware River with HRCKC

By | Boating, Trips

On Saturday, August 13th, quite a few of us intreprid souls met at the Water Gap….we first convoyed up to Worthington State Park a few miles (and that one darn 3 minute stoplight), spent a while unloading, convoyed down to Belvidere.

As usual, Martha and I were the last to arrive….early mornings just are not a forte. Sorry folks.

Despite the early start it was after 11 before we hit the water….we started in beautiful weather but it quickly clouded up.

Approaching the Water Gap we approached the noise that was to be with us for the better part of the trip. The gap is, of course, spectacular, but the interstate highway the runs though it is not….

To start things off they are taking the lead paint off the I-80 bridge, so we entered with the gap with the smell of solvents.

At an island below the gap some search and rescue folks were doing some sort of a training exercise.  Lori went over there to check out a Great Blue Heron and when she finally understood that they did not want her to come down on there side of the island she was unable to get out of the main current (see http://www.nfb.ca/film/path_of_the_paddle_solo_basic/ for some quick instruction on how to ferry across a current ) so she finally went down river and across their rope…

A leisurely lunch followed, with Lori having disappeared downstream. I used her disappearance as chance to explore the other side of the islands, but she was waiting for us a the pull out with cookies.

A brief shower at the end of the trip and I guess some of them headed off for Pizza.

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Ramapo River with Hackensack Canoe and Kayak Club

By | Boating, Trips

On June 25th 5 intrepid souls joined me for a little trip down the Ramapo.

On Wednesday several inches of rain in an hour or so had pushed the gauges up above 4000 cfs (flood stage)  but by Friday morning when I announced the trip the were down around a 1000…still a lot, but I’ve run the river at the level.

Being a relatively inexperienced trip leader I added “You should at least be able to ferry (move sideways across the stream) which is difficult in keeled boats.”

2 club members contacted my after I posted cautioning me but I decided to go ahead anyway. Launched from the trail conference and around the first big turn below 17 with no trouble as everyone stayed to the inside and avoided the strainers on the outside…

Not a HRCKC member flipped on the Ramapo

Not a HRCKC member flipped on the Ramapo...I was too busy when we had our issues to get the camera out.

But the next turn had more of a problem, with a strainer across most of the river only a few inches below the water….high enough to catch a boat and with plenty of force to turn it sideways. Debby got caught up and flipped and got pinned against it for a minute before climbing free. Her friend Phillip Horschel tried to save her and got knocked over and clear. John Bergen got flipped trying to rescue her paddle….boats and people everywhere. Read More

Practicing dancing at Historic New Bridge with less then historic gas station at rear.

Pinkster Fest: A Colonial Celebration of Spring

By | Boating, Events, History, Shows, Trips

Bergen County Historical Society’s “Pinkster,” a Colonial celebration of summer’s arrival at Historic New Bridge Landing,  River Edge.classic boats on the Hackensack River

Benjamin Donson with his son Julio Valle  and Jim Norman met me in Hackensack’s Johnson Park.  Ben and Julio paddled Jim’s wooden kayak and Jim paddles his replica 1800s solo canoe. Andy Anderson rowed down in his replica rowing dingy. All are similar to boats that would have been used on the Hackensack many years ago.

Jim actually offers help building wooden boats for anyone interested. Contact him thru his website, jimnormanart.com .

For anyone looking to emulate our trip, be sure to check out my guide on how to paddle the Hackensack.

We arrived at New Bridge Landing where we were allowed to land on the New Bridge Landing side. The New Bridge Landing (west) side of the river has long been posted ‘No fishing, dumping or boat launching.’ I reached out to the Bergen County Historical Society, which responded that the had posted it due to littering, abuse of the historic wharf including motor boat launching and even chemical truck dumping. According to Mike Trepicchio of the Bergen County Historic Society,  ‘We have been protecting and preserving the landing as well as the River since 1944, Frank Koehler, a long time past president of the BCHS is credited as being the first Hackensack riverkeeper, as well as steward of New Bridge. We keep his tradition alive, by respecting the Landing and keeping abusive uses from the River. If the use is compatible with our mission of protection and preservation and permission is requested and granted, we welcome the company.’ Read More

On the river

Canoe Trip on the Musky

By | Boating

November 2010 canoe trip down the Muscunetong River in Western Jersey with the Hackensack River Canoe and Kayak Club….for once, actually just the canoe club….a little swiftwater, a turkey, the usual. For once it didn’t rain, though it could have been warmer.

For those of you that might want to do the mighty Musky, it’s a little river in a narrow valley. Lake Muscunetong and Lake Hopatcong were built at it’s source to feed the Morris canal in the 1800’s and bring PA coal to New York and New Jersey literally fueling the City’s growth….but these lakes hold back most of the water except during the drawdowns in November, where the lower the lake level to protect docks from ice during the winter. Read More