Hackensack River Canoe &
Hampton Furnace to Batsto Lake (or not)
by Jim McLoone
Sunday, October 6, 2013
This trip was listed as a scouting trip meaning that I had not paddled the section personally in the recent past. I had researched guide books and maps, but as it turned out I am glad for the disclaimer.
Our group of five met at the Atsion Ranger Station at 9 as planned. Our paddlers were Jim, Joan, Carole, Jeff & Mike. The morning was cloudy and there had been no rain for a couple of weeks so we were concerned about low water. Depth turned out not to be a problem, but more about problems later. We ran into a group of four people from Yonkers CC and were acquainted with two of them, Ron and Lee, so we decided to pool our trips and shuttles.
The trip plan was for about 12 miles from Hampton Furnace to Batsto Lake take out.
After leaving the Ranger Station we travelled to the put in on Hampton (sand) Road and shuttled to Batsto Lake access. The shuttle ended up being about 16 miles with about 13 being on hard surface. Our other option was a 9 mile sand road shuttle. This is just the opposite of most shuttles that take straight roads while the river meanders.
Even though the put in was very narrow we knew from the map and guide books that about a mile below the put in was a tributary that would widen the river considerably. The Batsto River has varied scenery ranging from cedar forests to swamps. We saw only three other boats during our trip. One canoe was on the bank and two older women were kayaking up river from Quaker Bridge. The depth of water was never a problem however we encountered numerous blow downs that sapped out strength and our time line.
I suffered a seat malfunction when I slipped and broke a seat back latch. I had a spare and really messed up when it popped out of my grasp and dropped to the bottom of the Batsto. Ronís camera fell off his deck and into wet sand at the lunch stop.
By the time we reached Quaker Bridge the halfway point in our trip it was almost 4pm. We had spent over four hours completing half of an estimated 5 Ĺ hour trip. We felt that the blow downs were probably mostly behind us, but were concerned whether we could complete the trip in the 2 Ĺ hours of daylight that were left. We decided to play it safe. A couple who had been sightseeing offered to drive us to the cars and we opted to terminate the trip at that point.
When we returned the rest of the group had brought the boats up to the side of the road and loading was accomplished quickly although we did need to move once for through traffic. Meanwhile two of the YPRC members had continued past Quaker Bridge so the rest of their group followed. They called us when they got off the river a little before dark. We had planned to join them at a local restaurant/sports bar but when we found there was a 20 minute wait Jim, Joan & Carole decided to leave the group and eat in the Red Lion diner. I heard later that the meal at the sports bar was good.