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Trips

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

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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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

Final celebration at end of the week. Derek Lavanhar looking at camera right center.

Sienna Project…Building Schools in Guatemala

By | Trips

Closing ceremonies with mostly built school in background.In early March, 2011, I  spent a week helping to build a school in the highlands of Guatemala west of the capital  for the indigenous people. My stepfather-with a lot of help from my Mother (CFO) and my ex-pat step brother, created a charity to build schools http://siennaproject.org/ to help the indigenous people of the area…without going too far into the politics, the US government is part of a long list that oppressed these folks so it’s nice that we Americans can do some good down there.

For 4 of the days we helped to build a 3 room concrete school in a village in the highlands west of Guatemala City. (full disclosure…I built and maintain the website). Read More

Bittern near Farleigh campus teaneck

Hackensack River Trips

By | Trips

Various shots on the Hackensack mostly from late summer and early fall 2010 with a few older ones thrown in.

The Hackensack gets short shift for being polluted, muddy crowded…well, you get the idea. However, of it’s many redeeming values, the most important is that is close to me and a lot of other people. It’s also a rich tidal estuary…a little too rich, with too much fertilizer from too many lawns and the like…but full of wildlife, especially herons, ospreys and eagles during the winter (as well as the usual gulls, blackbirds and the geese). So instead of driving get out on the Hack. Read More

Lamington River

By | Boating, Trips

Jul 10, 2010
Rockaway Creek and the Lamington River, New Jersey with the Hackensack River Canoe and Kayak Club….started out in the rain, but it wasn’t cold and turned into a nice day.

This little river is fed by reservoirs and in times of drought the authorities often turn on the drain to keep the folks downstream from running out of water…so those in the know  can find some local swiftwater small stream paddling when everything else around is dried up…and probably would be dried up, even if the reservoirs weren’t holding back all that water. Read More