by Bob Rancan
People always ask: "Isn't it too cold to paddle in November?"
Maybe, maybe not. I've never been too keen on paddling big lakes, bays or open
estuaries, and it doesn't take much to discourage me from going out. When I see
cold fronts, wind and rain or sleet the boats don't leave the shed.
But fortunately I prefer canoeing small streams and shallow rivers. Usually,
there are two windows of opportunity to canoe the Musconetcong (Sussex, Morris,
Warren and Hunterdon counties): early spring and during the annual drawdown of
Lake Hopatcong. The Lake is lowered every November to protect structures such as
docks and retaining walls from the winter's ice. Every fifth year the releases
start earlier (after Labor Day) in order to allow homeowners to make repairs on
their lakeside structures prior to spring.
In 1992, 1997 and 2003 (2002 was a draught year) there were ample opportunities
to paddle the different sections of the river. This year, with lots of rain
falling in October, the November releases have been constant and full. For the
first three weeks of the month the water levels at the Bloomsbury gauge have
stayed between 2.20 and 3.00 feet (or about 320 to 360 cfs). That there was
enough water to make the rocky stream navigable trumped the issue of the weather
for me. So it was a bonus that the early part of November featured warm sunny
On November 13th ten of us explored approximately nine miles of the river from
Hampton Borough Park to Bloomsbury. The water level was at 2.22 (324 cfs), the
temperature reached the mid-sixties and there were still some colorful leaves
left on the trees. We came very close to several great blue herons and the
vanguard of the group watched a great horned owl move off its perch and cross
It is a beautiful part of the river, still running past many farms, some of
which feature stone houses, spring houses and root cellars. It is a relatively
open paddle with just one portage, so the group had time and ability to relax
and take it all in.
November on the Musconetcong is even better with good company. Thanks to Tom
DeAngelis, Dave Emerson, Lee Filkins, Nabil Gukeluv, Jeff Hackett, Ed Heinen,
Bob May, Lori Meier and Joe Pinero for a great trip.
by Lori Meier
Another awesome trip!
Ok. I have to start out by saying that my experience with this club has
been fabulous. What a great group of people you all are!
Now for the trip. We all met at an easy to find Truck Stop off of Rt.
78, then took care of the car, boat and clothing situation. Bob Rancan
provided me with tips and guidance on how to read the river. This was
the fastest moving river I have ever been on, so I was a tad bid
nervous. But I had 9 handsome men who I had great confidence would not
let me croak in the chilly waters of the Musconetcong.
We started in Hampton and were soon joined by a Blue Heron who hung out
with us for quite a while. There was a brief spotting of a muskrat, or
something that looked like one along the way. Further down a stubby
looking owl flew by. (I believe Bob said it was a Horn Rimmed Owl.) We
passed many farms and old structures while negotiating those funky
It was a beautiful day to be out on the water and Iím so glad that I
didnít chicken out! But I think itís time to invest in a skirt and bring
out the woolies!!