Hackensack River Canoe &
by Monica Orso
Friday, August 11 - Sunday August 13, 2017
The forecast was a bit iffy for a camping/paddling/meteor spotting weekend, but a few brave troopers came out to Spruce Run on Friday to pitch their tents and hope for the best. Arriving a little early to set up my "taj-ma-tent" (big bad boy I picked up last year), I found a camper on my site even though the park told me there was none and I could come early. Our club prez Peter arrived shortly after I did and we waited until the other camper vacated her site, which she claimed she had for an additional night. Fortunately for us, the park said it was ours. So this camper insisted that the park move her tents for her, and that she was going to stay until the last minute on that site. And that she did. The last second in fact. The park picked up her 2 tents and threw them in the back of a pickup and drove away. So after 1 1/2 hours of waiting around, we were able to pitch our tents. Friday was a casual day, did a little paddling, reading, lounging etc after setting up the tents and a rain tarp. The rains did come, but mostly overnight. Lori B joined us later in the day, and Sharon G pitched her tent a few sites down from us.
What a difference a year makes. Last year, the reservoir was so low that we could not paddle at all. The beach was even closed to the public, the sand being exposed all the way past the swimming boundaries. This year, the reservoir was the fullest I have ever seen it. The water came right up to the grass edge with no beach exposed by our campsite. This of course was wonderful and made for very easy launching without going through mud or rocks. The water level stayed consistent throughout the whole weekend.
On Saturday Naomi joined us. We regularly checked the radar for the expected thunderstorms. Sharon left early, thinking it may be a wash. Apparently a lot of campers at Spruce Run thought the same thing as some sites were tagged but unoccupied. As it turned out, the storms never came...we had a few sprinkles but other than that it was a lovely day. Cool (last year it was oppressively hot) and pleasant making for good paddling. The reservoir had scattered kayaks, power boats, sailboats, stand up paddlers and rental boats. At one point in the afternoon, Peter and Naomi were just returning from a paddle and some kids on sit-on-top rentals were goofing around in the water not far from our site. Well one kid fell in and couldn't get back on his boat. Pete and Naomi went over to help, but the kid couldn't get it together to get on the boat and stay on, the boat kept dumping him. Finally, he grabbed on to the bow of Peter's kayak and was brought to shore where his parents anxiously watched. About 20 feet from shore, he was floundering around in the water, struggling to swim the last few feet. Finally his mother yells out "JUST STAND UP!" Which he did, and to his embarrassment the water came up to below his knees. This of course escalated the humiliation factor thousand fold. I didn't want to laugh, but I did. Three cheers for our prez for rescuing the clueless kid. We finished off Saturday with a campfire. I got up a few times during the night to check for meteors, but it was just too cloudy. And when the clouds cleared, the moon was so bright it would have been hard to spot all but the biggest meteors.
Sunday looked to be marvelous weather-wise, and a couple of Peter and Naomi's friends were going to meet us for a morning paddle. Lori had things to do, and left early Sunday. Peter, Naomi and I set out in the direction of a small island on the opposite side of the reservoir. The winds really picked up while we were out there and we ran into some small white caps. When we made it to the other side, we decided to follow the shoreline on the way back to meet Peter and Naomi's friends. We had one more open water crossing which was choppy, but once close to shore again, things mellowed out.
We headed back to the public boat launch area to meet their friends, and on the way had to pass the boat rental area. There was a boat of 4 or 5 kids who had just left the rental area in a small power boat and they had no idea what they were doing. All the while they were laughing like crazy...like it was fun to spin around in circles, pull the outboard up out of the water, rev and stall the engine etc. We were afraid to be around them (I didn't even pause to snap a picture). Apparently others fishing in the area felt the same and got out of Dodge to avoid a mishap. We made it to the dock where the rental people were, and they had to go and rescue these clowns. By then Peter and Naomi's friends had paddled up and we returned to the campsite to spend a few minutes there before having to vacate.
All in all a good weekend, (if you overlook the scarcity of TP in the bathrooms and a few loud campers on Saturday night.) No meteors, but fun anyway!
> Photos from Monica