Mansfield Twp. to Hampton
by Bob Rancan
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Finally, the water was released. Usually, we’re ready for the Lake Hopatcong annual draw down to begin on November 1st but a new policy instituted by the Lake commission and NJDEP tied the timing of the release to the Lake level. The long and the short of it was that the water started to flow on Thursday, November 18. Fortunately, the river level continued to increase at the Bloomsbury gauge and my fears of having to scrape down the lower section proved groundless. By our start time Bloomsbury showed a reading of 2.05 feet, 284 cubic feet per second. It rose to 2.07, 291 cfs for the duration of our trip.
Then came the spooky part. This season we are celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Hackensack River Canoe Club and on a November Saturday we were paddling on the eve of the full Beaver Moon (or Frost Moon.) To the natives of the northeast, this full moon marked that the time had come to set their beaver traps before the swamps froze, thus ensuring a supply of warm winter furs. It was a time of shorter days but still lots of activity. A full moon can bring forth some magic too.
We had 12 paddlers on the river, including a founder of the Canoe Club. And even though my calendar read 2010, I counted boats at the put-in and had 11 canoes (1 C-1, 1 tandem and 9 solos) – no kayaks. Maybe for a moment we had gone back in time. Or, maybe going from not enough water to a good run overnight, or spotting a pair of pileated woodpeckers or being surrounded by old style canoes just happens once in a very blue moon. We know a Blue Moon is the second full moon in a calendar month (last one occurring in December, 2009, the next in August, 2012.) But there is another definition of a Blue Moon from old entries in the Maine Farmer’s Almanac. It is the third of four full moons in a season. Sunday was the third full moon this Autumn. There will be one more, with the moonrise on December 21st, just before the winter solstice later that evening. 25 years…all canoes…Blue Moon coming. Coincidence?
Thanks to Martin, Scott Hagaman, Kevin McCarthy, Chris Myers, Sue Fleisher, Dave Miller, Mark Grossmann, Mike Kula, Mike Capizzi, Jim Lyon and Tom Hart for the great photos (he did not take the Tom Turkey home for Thanksgiving.)