Hackensack River Canoe &
Passaic River/Great Piece Meadows
by Melody Wenger
Sunday, September 15, 2013
During our glorious Passaic River paddle, I heard from many participants commenting on the perfect weather that I had ordered. “Not too hot, not too cold… sunny, but not scorching… comfortable breeze, but not windy…” All the welcoming statements a first time trip coordinator likes to hear. And as a first timer, I must admit that running the trip was not as difficult as I thought. (And honestly the hardest part was writing this report -- hence the delay and lack of pictures). So with that in mind here is a brief summary.
With nearly 30 paddlers initially responding to the trip before I had to turn people away, a total of 21 arrived at the parking lot banks of the Passaic River at Pia Costa, Fairfield around 9 a.m. We unloaded our gear and shuttle a parade of cars up to two bridges and stacked our vehicles carefully in the parking area. Then like clowns we stuffed ourselves into four vehicles to return to our boats and begin our river experience around 10 a.m. Like the weather…. another huge success… no one getting lost or left behind or falling in upon entry to the river.
With so many paddlers and lack of good note-taking skills, I have to estimate the breakdown of canoes versus kayaks. Since there were no tandems and there were at least seven canoes, I think we had approximately 14 kayakers. But anyone can feel free to correct me.
Since the river is wide and long, the number of paddlers spread out over a comfortable, but safe distance as we paddled on the slow but steady current of the Passaic River… floating under route 46 and route 80 bridges and passing a few homes off of Pine Brook Road in Montville. Within the first hour we were fully surrounded by the Great Piece Meadows without a soul in sight. The river winded gently but continuously and we squeezed through two blow downs that had been previously opened up on the scouting trip. For me, wildlife was a little scarce. Chasing a blue heron, spotting a turtle or two, and a debate if what we saw was a muskrat or just a rat, and hearing (but not spotting) various birds in the wood. In less than 3 hours we were at our lunch sight enjoying company and taking care of “business”. Relatively poison ivy free (at least I didn't get any), we left our social spot to continue on the river. Still secluded, the river became a little wider and a little slower, requiring a little more muscle behind the paddle. But by 4 o’clock, most of our paddles had made the left turn up the Pompton River to our take out location. It was a long paddle and many individuals were tired and glad to be back on land (I know I was). With the help of all, people lifted/tied up their boats and gathered their gear and were well on their way before five (as promised).
I would like to give a special thank all my paddlers*** for your positive attitude and helping hands. From co-organizer (Phil), to shuttle divers, to sweepers, to lead paddlers, to blow-down specialists, to inspirational paddle instructors… Thank you for making my first coordinating experience a fun and successful one! Hope to see you on the water soon.
*** Martin Wellhoefer, Mike Capizzi, James Piombino, Mary Demmer, John Palubniak, Dave Miller, Mike Paul, Anne Friedman, Phil Brown, Bob Cohn, Chris Meyers, Sue Meyers, Barbara Benary, Frank Libert, Summonnat Kongchatree, Al Grenley, Mike Rubin, Rich Howland, Peter Walker, Naomi Grobstein
Time to unwind and enjoy lunch on a small side branch of the Passaic River!!!!