Terry Anderson Kayak Log
May 7, 2006
Raritan River Martins Creek (boat ramp at end of Meadow Rd, Edison Township)
I put in at a small Edison Township park with a boat ramp. There is a fee to launch from a trailer, but no charge for hand carried boats. There were very few boats on the river. I chose to go up stream. A quarter of a mile upstream on the south (left) bank two small streams join just as they reach the river (Google Earth Placemark *). In the mouth is a old rusting ferry labeled as from New York, so evidently used on the Hudson. It and another large rusting boat nearly block the mouth, but a kayak or canoe can easily pass. The left of the two streams (the one most down stream) can be followed for a quarter of a mile or so past decaying old barges before it gets to shallow for a kayak. The right of the two streams is longer and can be followed for about a mile and a quarter before reaching the bottom of dam at Westons Mill Pond, where I turned around.
The stream is easy paddling, little or no current when I was there. I fact when I quit paddling to observe birds, I found I drifted upstream. The Raritan River and even these side streams are still tidal and since the tide was flowing the current was upstream but very slow. The stream width is at least three-quarters filled with reeds and the birds were numerous. Occasionally side channels extended into the reeds but dead-ended in a 100 feet or so. The stream passes a few houses and continues under the NJ Turnpike and behind some hotels and office buildings but for most of its length little or no development is visible so it is amazingly wild and natural of a location so close to New Brunswick.
In the first small stream I noticed a hawk circling above. While returning down the creek I noticed three hawks that seemed to be circling together. Occasionally their paths would nearly intersect but most of the time they simply circled separately but in the same circle. There must have been strong updrafts because on each orbit, with no wing motion, they would spiral higher. When each hawk reached some determined altitude, it would dive down to 50 feet or so and then return to circling. They never dived lower so they did not appear to be hunting, just staying in their preferred altitude zone. I was so fascinated that I drifted (upstream unless I paddled occasionally) for 20-30 min just watching them.
After getting back to the stream mouth on the Raritan, I paddled upstream for a mile and a half under the NJ Turnpike/Basilone and the US1/College Bridges, turning around at Donaldson Park (also a launch site). The only water craft I encountered on the Raritan were two wave runners, who were reasonably behaved, staying away from me.
* If you have Google Earth installed, you can double-click on the attached Placemark file and it will fly you to a location. If not, you will need to install Google Earth first (available at http://earth.google.com).