On Hurricanes, Rain and Rivers
by Bob Rancan
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Musconetcong River, Penwell to Asbury
Normally, I'm not one to watch the weather. September, 2011 was a month to stay glued to the National Weather Services river forecast webpage though. Hurricane Irene dumped lots of water the last weekend of August and the subsequent flooding cancelled all plans. For Labor Day weekend most of our favorite streams had water with some either too close to or still over flood stage. The North Branch of the Raritan was just right on September 3rd so seven of us had a great trip from Far Hills to North Branch. During the following week Tropical Storm Lee brought more rain and floods. With the Pequest, Paulinskill and Musconetcong too high the elusive Pohatcong Creek in Warren County was the target for Henry Degenhardt, Chris Meyers, Mark Grossman and myself. It was the first run there in 13 years for me and didn't disappoint; even got to run the rapids below Stewartsville for the first time. Trees were down of course but none of the three long tunnels under RR high lines were blocked.
A late summer run on the Lamington was next for ten of us on September 17th. We had done a scratchy run from Pottersville to Burnt Mills in August at 2.20, 102cfs...a level rarely found at that time of year. Almost the same group returned after Lee to paddle it at 2.38, 144cfs. Big difference plus some newly uprooted oaks and sycamores with dirt and rocks still clinging to the roots some 15-20 feet in the air.
Finally, despite some heavy Friday rain and a flood watch in effect, I was able to book a Club outing on the Musconetcong on Saturday, September 24th. The forecast was for more showers on the overnight, extending into the afternoon. But if you're watching the weather, you're not going paddling. Fifteen members showed up, ready to go in 14 boats of various types, shapes and sizes. It didn't even rain, the sun came out here and there and the river had come up fast but and peaked at 4:30AM and was settling down. Settling down but at 3.39, 894cfs probably a good deal higher than any of my previous 55 trips there. Gone were the familiar rocks, weirs and gravel bars, replaced by fast moving water and some very nice wave trains. The great blue herons, belted kingfishers, wood ducks, common mergansers, red tail hawks and a sharp shin hawk were still around.
Thanks to Henry, Chris, Mark and Mikhael Grossman, John Palubniak and Mary Demmer, Janet Little, Al Grenley, Chris Dubetsky, Rocco Lovascio, Michael Capizzi, Tom Babos, Jim Lyon and Charlie LoPresti for having the faith to follow me and thanks to all who shared my four September paddles and know that old slogan: New Jersey and you...perfect together.