Mahwah to Oakland
by Harris R Reinstein
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Trip Coordinator: Harris R Reinstein
Six of us met at 9:30 AM at the Trail Conference office building at 156 Ramapo Valley Road. No one cancelled at the last minute and there were no unexpected paddlers. There were 4 canoes and 2 kayaks. We were ready for the challenges of the day on the Ramapo River. The sun was shining, the temperature was approximately 30 degrees and there was some wind. All day long, the temperature never got above 40 degrees. The night before, the gages indicated that the water level was good for our run, not at flood stage and not too low.
After bringing our cars to the takeout and returning to Mahwah, we put in above the first chute. Everyone went through easily. Not too far down the river was a large tree that blocked our passage, so we portaged around and continued on our way. I didn’t see any animals except some ducks and geese. We stayed together and went through numerous turns, trees down and other typical obstacles.
After about an hour or so the river claimed its first two victims. Both were able to wet exit and get to land where after they emptied their boats we continued on. I have never been on the Ramapo when someone didn’t go in the water. As I tell everyone, this is a tricky river.
A half hour later, lunch was our next stop at the first dam. We took about 45 minutes to eat, drink and rest. We put out boats back in the water and shortly after we arrived at the second dam where a carved bear stands guard. It was our third short portage, and we were on our way again.
Somewhere along the way a third member of our group flipped and again he was able to exit and get to land to empty the water.
By around 2:30 PM we got to the final tricky spot where we pulled over to the side to observe the current and pick a direction. I was amazed to see a lot of down trees that had washed up against the shore since last year and the erosion of the hill that continued. The area had changed a lot since last year; however we all made it through with little difficulty.
The remaining riffles moved along nicely and we were done by 3:00 PM. Although it was a little cold and windy, it was a great day and everyone enjoyed themselves ready for the season of paddling ahead.