South Branch Raritan River, Clinton, NJ and NJ Festival of Ballooning
by Bob Rancan
Saturday, July 25, 2015
Finally! On July 18th NJ Water Authority had Spruce Run Reservoir near capacity and started to let some water go into the South Branch of the Raritan. It seems that in most years releases to help keep the river temperature cooler begin earlier but with scarce rainfall and not a lot of hot muggy days, the flow was held back. On the Saturday before our trip 20 million gallons a day (mgd) were released and throughout the week the amounts increased: 50 mgd on Monday, 65 mgd on Tuesday, 72 mgd on Wednesday, 90 mgd Thursday and 124 mgd by Saturday the 25th. On that morning, the Stanton gauge downstream on the South Branch was running at 2.92 feet, or 210 cubic feet per second...a good flow of nice cool water.
We had 18 paddlers in 6 canoes and 12 kayaks and shared part of the trip with a dozen or so of our friends from the Mohawk Club. ! It was a beautiful day. There were families of common mergansers and mallards, a green heron, great blue herons and many cedar waxwings and various swallows catching flies over the river.
After the paddle, since we were already in Hunterdon County, 14 of us drove east a ways and grabbed a couple of picnic tables at an old style highway rest stop in Whitehouse. There were only a couple of people there at first but as we set up our picnic/tailgate, more and more folks started to arrive. Not to join us but in the hope that the PM flight of hot air balloons from the 33rd Annual NJ Festival of Ballooning would drift our way. The launch was scheduled for 6:45 and at first, there was no action. It became 7:15 to 7:30 when three balloons passed and then suddenly the sky was filled. It was a great way to spend the last light of day - watching the balloons and the excited children and the traffic chaos on Rt. 22.
And, the company was great! Thanks.