Upper Reaches of the Hackensack River
by Betty Wiest
Sunday, April 18, 2021
It was quite a surprise for me to find myself in North Jersey this past weekend.....but what do I do but post a kayak trip and carry it out!
There was quite a large group (24 paddlers) who signed up for this trip--right up to the last minute. Because parking was not an issue (plenty of on-street parking on Western Avenue), it was acceptable to have a larger than normal group. And I think all of us were so eager to participate in an outdoor activity.
A 1 p.m. launch was scheduled and everyone was prompt. But a funny thing happened....one of those l-o-n-g freight trains came by right at 1 o'clock and so we all stood in a circle waiting for my "talk" before we could introduce ourselves and talk about the paddle. Talk about timing.
Even with a lot of boats, we all managed to get in the water in a relatively short time as there are actually two points of entry---one a little rocky and one a little easier entry but not without a few tree stumps to trip you up.
The Hackensack River is more of a narrow river/creek where we launch and it becomes a ribbon-like channel before it flows into a very unique body of water. We (most of us anyway) followed my lead and headed into a straight channel lined with trees, passing several sections of wooden boardwalk, a platform with a ferry-type system set up, and a half-sunken rowboat. We paddled to a steel bridge which was low and not able to paddle under; We paddled back and then worked our way into what is more like a Louisiana bayou with tons of trees partially submerged. I think it was tough for some of the longer boats to maneuver through the trees but we all made it! I was hoping to find the hammock with a swan's nest, but alas, no luck in finding it.
The lake opens up after paddling through a lily pond and grassy areas. We saw swans, a great blue heron, an eagle, lots of red-winged blackbirds, and I'm sure lots of other wildlife. Because it was very cloudy (it did not rain, thank goodness), we were not able to see huge snapping turtles that make this shallow pond their home.
.....and what would a paddling adventure be without Manfred and Marianne's delicious rum cake and beverages! Always a delight and always a most enjoyable time together. Thank you, M&M, for your efforts in making our paddling community a social one!