by Martin W.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Well...... wuz I wrong!
Figuring, after Irene and the heavy rains that fell a few days later, the Wallkill River would be a dangerous torrent laced with 'yak eating (canoeists never get stuck) strainers and backbreaking blowdowns as in years past, the reality was completely opposite. Seven intrepid pilgrims braved the journey - Kate, Al, Martha, Tom, Igor, Ted and myself.
My original plan was to put-in at Oil City Road and head north to the ledges and eventually to the "Cataracts" but since the water was flowing faster than normal and would have presented a hard paddle back upstream for the return trip, it was decided to do a "scouting" trip for this weekend's Wallkill River trip through the "Refuge" starting at the Rt. 565 access and finishing up at Bassett's Bridge - about 6 miles. We found the "closed" Lake Wallkill Road was indeed "not quite closed" so with a bit of driving around the "Closed Road" barrier we didn't end up having to take the long shuttle via Newton.
So alas.... never in my 25 years of paddling this river has it ever been an easier run. Water level was still high but at perfect level that allowed our group to effortlessly glide over any obstacle (Ok, one little blowdown that we had to go through - but without having to get out of the boats).
As we paddled, we observed how high the water level had indeed gotten during the storms - saw much debris and silt in the trees 6-8 feet above our heads. The paddling was effortless and the weather was perfect with the only problem we had was finding a decent spot for lunch since the usual farm bridge we normally use as our lunch stop has been removed and a massive gas line construction project through the area and under the river marred this section. Most of the river banks were quite muddy, so we had lunch at the trip's end at Bassett's Bridge. We managed to do the whole 6 miles in about leisurely 3 hours. After packing up the boats and doing the return shuttle some of us stopped off at Neal's Sports Emporium to jabber wit Neal fer a spell.
And lastly... Kate gets an A+ in her first real moving water trip on the mighty Wallkill - in her canoe!