David Brotsky has been leading trips around the world for over a decade. I have been on a few of his one-day events and signed up for this two-day event over Memorial Day weekend.
Sunday, May 30:
I woke early, not sure if I had packed everything I needed. I was giving a lift to another guy from my neighborhood, and we left around 7:30 a.m. We drove south and west, across Brooklyn and Staten Island into New Jersey, and eventually made our way to the Pine Barrens, specifically to Green Bank, home of Bel Haven Paddlesports. We parked there and checked in with Davetrek and boarded the Bel Haven buses. These took us a few miles northwest to Batsto, where we each selected a personal flotation device, a kayak and paddle, and entered the Batsto River at around 11:30 a.m. We then paddled and floated back east, toward the lake that is close to Bel Haven’s store. They said that the total distance was about four miles. (They warned us that if we went under a bridge we would have gone too far, as that led to the Atlantic Ocean.)
At the early stages, the river is narrow and the trees block a fair amount of sunlight.
There are a number of homes along the river. This home had an interesting sculpture facing the river.
The river was still narrow, with plenty of overhanging foliage:
Around noon, we stopped at a sandy beach and had lunch. I don’t have any noteworthy photos, though, so let’s continue on with the cruise:
This tree had snapped, but the top part was still hanging by a thread. If it happened to fall while a boater was underneath, it could be deadly. I carefully steered around the tree, and actually took the photo after I had passed it and was moving away from it.
This is another spot with many fallen trees. I think that some of them had been trimmed with a chain saw.
The water had a lot of tannin, which is especially visible in this photo.
The river began to widen, and here you can see some of the pretty homes along the river:
We made it to our end location around 2:15 p.m., and the buses were there to take us back to the Bel Haven shop, where we were able to relax, enjoy a cold drink; some people changed clothes, etc.
Here I am in front of a mural:
Pretty cool, huh?
We then drove north to Allaire State Park, where we enjoyed grilled food. I was assigned to man one of the grills. (I was wearing gloves while I was working with the food; this photo was taken after my shift had ended and I’d removed my gloves.)
Kids love campfires and roasting marshmallows:
Monday (Memorial Day), May 31:
The start to a hot day. About 80 people had come out the day before, for kayaking and/or the dinner. Only about 30 camped at Allaire. I was one of those. Here’s a shot of a few of the tents:
We were moving at a pace that was a little too leisurely for me, but we finally broke camp and continued our adventures. Many who had camped overnight went home at this point, but the diehard drove to the nearby Shark River Park and enjoyed a (very) short hike, from 3:00-4:00 p.m.
The Shark River may actually be a tidal basin rather than a river. Fossils, such as shark teeth, have been found along its banks, but we didn’t look for any during our one-hour dash through the woods.
Looking up, through the tree canopy:
Mountain laurel (kalmia latifolia):
After the hike, a few more left to go home, but I hadn’t yet had enough. Thus, we drove to nearby Bradley Beach, arriving around 5:00 p.m. It had rained on our way over there (a bit of a surprise, as no rain had been predicted over the weekend). A moderate wind was blowing, and I was getting chilled on the beach, as I hadn’t brought along a jacket.
Because of the wind chill, my passenger and I left around 5:45 p.m.
The weekend was great, except for the return trip home taking 3 hours to drive 70 miles.