Hackensack River Canoe &
Spruce Run Reservoir
Hunterdon County, NJ
by Monica Orso
Friday-Sunday, August 14-16, 2015
Spruce Run Reservoir in Hunterdon County is the third largest in the state and offers camping, swimming, fishing, biking, and other activities. Trip attendees were Lori B, Lois and Henry S, Carolyn G, Herta, Tom B, Tom and Debbie C, Linda H, Mike K and Markie, Skip, Joanne G, Pam D, Phil and Robyn, Cory, Janet L, Catherin M, Terry R, Sharon G and yours truly.
Most of the campers arrived on Thursday to set up camp and chill out. We occupied 5 campsites, three of which were waterfront and the other 2 directly across the camp road. The sites were spacious enough, although 2 of the sites had to share their real estate with a considerable number of Cicada Killer Wasps. The wasps, being the size of B-52's, seemed to not care too much about us, focusing rather on their cicada victims, most of which were larger than the wasps themselves.
Thursday was a clear and pleasant day. Some paddled, some read, some swam, some did a whole lot of sweet nothing. The reservoir is large and irregularly shaped with multiple coves and miles of shoreline to explore. There is a public beach, proper bathrooms and showers, and a handy dandy dish washing station. After paddling a bit, some of us went to the beach where there was some sort of lifeguard competition going on. It was an entertaining break in the early evening. Then, after dinner, we managed to spot the Space Station, and those of us who were able to stay up late enough were treated to some lovely meteor shower viewing right from our own little beach (surprisingly chilly that night!). Most were your standard white streaks, but one large and lovely one blasted by leaving a trail of green sparkly thingies. It was largely luck with the spottings, you had to be looking in the right place at the right time.
Now speaking of beaches, the only really sandy one there is the public beach where I suspect they trucked in sand. A lot of the shoreline was gravel, but we were not very lucky at the campsite beach. The water levels were quite low and the walk to the waterline got progressively muckier. I made the mistake on my first paddle of wearing flip flops. As I entered the water, my feet sank down and the footwear eating monster that lurked below swallowed my foot and wouldn't release. The longer you stood in one place the hungrier the monster got. When it finally released you from it's grip, it expelled an audible suction-like breath. If it weren't so comical, it would have been downright aggravating. The putting in and taking out at the site turned out to be the most challenging part of every paddle throughout the weekend. Waters were calm and power boat traffic minimal. There was however one bizarre incident in the middle of the night on Friday when something I suspect to have been the size of the Queen Mary sporting 4 gigantic spotlights aimed directly at the shoreline briefly turned night into day. I almost thought I dreamed it but a few others confirmed the sighting.
The cicadas and katydids were out in full force at night and I for one went out like a light and slept soundly that first night. And speaking of lights, coincidentally several of us had picked up some nifty solar inflatable lanterns which provided some amusement after dark. Check them out at CampMor or REI, they are called “Luci” and are really cool beans!
Friday and Saturday were equally as gorgeous weather-wise and filled with paddling, swimming, lounging, reading, lawn games, eating, napping...you get the picture. We did not do large organized paddles, people just paddled with whoever they wanted and whenever/wherever they wanted. The sun was hot, but on the water it was quite pleasant for the most part. There was a light breeze most of the time and ample opportunities to pull over in a secluded area to take a dip. We spotted lots of wildlife... one day there were even a couple of coyotes in one of the coves where it looked like they contemplating a goose attack. But the flock of geese had a plan of their own, that being swimming right up to where the coyotes were hiding in the bushes and doing a stare-down. The coyotes never came out of hiding...score one for the geese. Our campsite and beach were also visited frequently by a mama duck and 10 little ones who were not at all afraid of people, but instead seemed like they wanted to be your BFF.
Friday night I suggested a “pajama paddle” to greet the sunrise on Saturday morning. My alarm failed me but fortunately I got up naturally just in time. A small group paddled out to see the sun poke up from the water, even though it was viewed just as well from our campsite. (Apparently I was the only one who actually had brought bona fide pajamas!). We paddled a bit and then on the horizon spotted some hot air balloons, and they were headed in our direction. Such a treat to have them fly right over us and into the sunrise. Several in the group who didn't do the early paddle said they were wakened by the sound of the balloon burners overhead. Quite the nice way to start the day! Some of us did the same early paddle on Sunday morning... the balloonage was far better on Saturday, but the fog was a winner on Sunday. Also did some sunset paddles, the colors were amazing. A few folks ventured out with their boat lights for night paddles too.
Unfortunately some of the group had to leave on Saturday due to personal and work situations. They missed a fantastic pot luck dinner which could have fed an army. There was lots of groaning and belly rubbing afterwards...every single dish was wonderful...and Linda's pecan pie knocked it out of the park. It was followed by a nice campfire and conversation.
The campground was alive with people both Friday and Saturday nights and there were a few parties that could have been quieter in the late hours. Terry went for a walk on Saturday evening and had a bit of a creepy thing happen. There were cops out looking for a guy with red shorts and no shirt (who I actually saw earlier in the morning). Then she saw someone who was cloaked from the top of his head all the way down to the ground. He rapidly retreated into his van when he saw her. But we all made it through the night unscathed.
Sunday came all too quickly, as Sundays often do. One by one we reluctantly packed our gear to check out by noon. Catherin and Joanne took their boats out for one last paddle and swim after clearing the campsite. All in all a great extended weekend!
> Monica's photos and a few of Skip's and Lois': https://goo.gl/photos/i9YrxpBnamp5hy1a6
> Teri's photo link: https://goo.gl/photos/gocmje4ug5NJ2mbi7