Rockaway Creek, Lamington, North Branch
by Bob Rancan
Saturday, September 10, 2016
I was all excited: two Lackawaxen boater releases in a row, scheduled for Friday and Saturday, 9/9 & 9/10. I already had the 10th on the schedule as a Club trip and figured I would go up on Friday afternoon, run it with a couple of friends, stay at one of the Delaware River campgrounds, get some breakfast and actually be on time for meeting the group late Saturday morning. While rooting around for my tent and other gear late Thursday afternoon, I decided to check the gauges/web one more time. Luckily, I noticed that Brookfield Energy, the outfit that now operates the generating plant at Lake Wallenpaupack, had placed a new notation on their status page...both day's releases had been cancelled due to equipment failure at the plant. The scoop of ice cream had fallen off the cone!
REGARDLESS, there's always water somewhere! New Jersey Water Supply Authority had been releasing water from Round Valley Reservoir for over a month, probably due to a lack of rain in August and demand for the water in the Brunswicks area. We had paddled this outflow for several weeks in a row, with increasing volume found each week. By Saturday, the release was up to a rate of 135 million gallons per day, resulting in 215 cubic feet per second flowing into the tiny South Branch, Rockaway Creek. As you follow the tributaries downstream, the same amount of water spreads into wider and dryer riverbeds but with a good gauge reading of 3.90 feet at Burnt Mills on the Lamington, we knew we could paddle four streams a total of about 8.5 miles down to the town of North Branch on the North Branch of the Raritan.
It was a nice group of 15 - 10 members, a refugee from the cancelled Friday paddle and an old friend of the Club, Ira G. who was bound for the Lackawaxen with a trailer and 3 other South Jersey paddlers when he saw my message. Nice hot day, cool, clean water for some lunch time swimming/wading and throw rope shenanigans. Highlight of the day: A coyote had been stalking some geese when most of the group passed. He made his move and charged the river bank as a kayak passed. There was a lot of noise as the geese took flight and the coyote realized more paddlers were coming round the bend. He swam across the North Branch as I approached and high-tailed it over the bank as I realized too late that I had a camera with me. It really happened.