Hackensack River Canoe & Kayak Club

paddling for over a third of a century

Cedar Creek, NJ
aka: Never Listen to the Weather Reports
by Martin Wellhoefer

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ok, the weatherman/woman said it's going to rain hard! Then they said drizzle in the afternoon.

Should we always listen to the weatherman/woman? In my book... "HELL NO" (unless it's going to be over 80 degrees - then I get to be a wimp) - even though I do enjoy looking at some of the attractive lady weathercasters on the Weather Channel (remember Gloria Okon in the old days?) - but I digress...

As our resident HRCKC Professor Emeritus of Local History, Abstract Philosophies, Avian Critters and Concrete - Mr. Bob Rancan so profoundly states.... "If one listens to the weather reports, one will never go anywhere." Such a true statement indeed.

Again the bane of "fair weather" paddlers failed to show itself and, yes to all you that didn't come - we had another wonderful and enjoyable trip down the not-so-mighty Cedar Creek in the Pine Barrens contrary to those weather reports (just like the week before on the Wallkill River). Initially having 15 people sign up for the trip and then having 10 of those bailing out or just not showing up, we ended up with 5 hardy (non-wimpy) and intrepid paddlers - Jim Lyons, Ted Wright, Kevin McCarthy, Chris Dubetsky and myself (2 canoes, 2 kayaks and a C1) - ready for the adventure. We did have a little drizzle (more of a mist) at the parking lot at Double Trouble State Park as we waited for folks and did the car shuttle, but it had stopped by the time we got on the water. This upper 3 mile stretch of Cedar Creek from Dover Forge was more challenging (which is always the case) than the stretch from Ore Pond to the take-out at Dudley Park especially with a new bumper crop of blowdowns (mostly pines) from this past winter's storms, but luckily our group were experienced paddlers and the water was very high and we could actually float around some of the obstacles by paddling across normally dry river banks, but it was very tight in places - just barely wide enough to fit a solo canoe of kayak through. Lower water levels would have caused more lift-overs and wet feet, so there again we lucked out. This stretch of Cedar Creek with it's tight, twisty and the occasional need to get out and pull one's boat over obstacles is not really an ideal place for a new paddler without decent basic boat control - not that you will get killed or anything but you probably will get extremely frustrated and become very intimate with and experience the various flavors of the native foliage along the stream bank if you don't have some experience with "Pine Barrens" style" paddling. You WILL get wet feet!

Paddling after a spring rain (or during it) is one of my favorite times.... the water droplets on the newly sprouting green leaves, the brown and gray branches and the long emerald green needles of the pines shine with a silvery glow while one is drifting by in the tea colored water.

Anyway, enough of my romanticizing... we all made it to the dam at Ore Pond intact and were amazed at the amount of water flowing over it - you could actually have run the normally dry spillway (but that ledge at the bottom would have been trouble, so we portaged around it). Both Kevin and I have never seen it with this much water. Stopping for a brief lunch we then proceeded downstream for another 5-6 miles of more open, faster flowing and less restricted water travel. Only once did we encounter a group of local ATV riders making much racket close to the end of the trip. Arriving at Dudley Park around 3:30pm, we loaded up the boats and after my car battery decided to conk out (luckily I had my trusty emergency starter battery along) we drove Jim and Ted back to their cars at Dover Forge.

Rats! Left my camera in Jim's shuttle van or you'd be seeing photos.

Again, another successful trip - no one died (except one deceased car battery), no injuries (no legs had to taken off in the field) and NO RAIN!!! NO RAIN! Did I mention - NO RAIN!