Hackensack River Canoe & Kayak Club

paddling for over a third of a century

A Good Friday on the Flat Brook
by Bob Rancan

April 6, 2007

It used to be that Good Friday was the right time to schedule a spring paddle. It would fall on a different week each year from late March to mid April and with some businesses closing for Easter and/or Passover, it was a good getaway day. Plus, the promise of spring was somewhere on its journey to fulfillment.

But as an old friend's mother was fond of saying whenever a yearning for old times was heard, "Mr. Used to Be don't live here anymore." To say the least, there has been some challenging April weather in our area the last few years. On April 6, 2007, I planned a Club trip to the Flat Brook in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

As I looked at the calendar in January, I knew two of the three challenges the Flat Brook presented would be overcome on Good Friday: it was before fishing season opened and early April meant there would be enough water to paddle such a small stream. I did not consider the weather because as the saying goes, "everyone complains about the weather but no one does anything about it." The early part of that first week of April was cold with some freezing rain but there was some hope that some sunshine would push the temperature a few degrees up from the low forties. Instead, at 10AM near Peter's Valley there were large snowflakes falling.

When I arrived, there were ten paddlers dressed and ready to go. Once you get to the river and see fellow travelers the weather doubts go away. Once underway, the snow stopped (I would be lying if I said the sun came out and spring burst forth, etc.) and we paddled through the woods and had a fine day.

Spring was there if you looked for it. A small group of pine warblers crossed my path and I saw at least one other early migrant, a palm warbler in the afternoon. Phoebes had been around for weeks but I saw several small groups together, possibly males arriving to join the females who had staked out their nesting territories. Common merganser (males in breeding plumage) wood ducks, belted kingfishers and a lone great blue heron were spotted along the way. A flock of turkeys in the woods and a noisy pileated woodpecker helped everyone forget the weather.

Thanks to Martin Wellhoefer, Fred Cohane, Jeff Hackett, Mike Passow, Matt and Aaron McCay, Jim Lyon, Denise Marcel, Rico Pagliei and Martin Courtney for turning up and not turning back. Bob Rancan, April 21, 2007.