By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina
As paddling trips go, this one wasn’t much: We left shortly before noon, and returned just after 2 PM—nothing like our typical day-long expeditions.
The weather was perfect: clear, sunny and dry with a light breeze. No wind, waves, or other “conditions” that make for an exciting kayak adventure.
But since it was our first trip together in quite a while, we were happy just to be on the water.
We decided to head down to the Morris Canal, the inlet that starts at the Colgate Clock on the New Jersey side of the Hudson and heads inland before petering out in a salt marsh. Originally the canal ran for 107 miles (!) from the Hudson to the Delaware River, but these days, only scattered remnants are left.
Even though—or perhaps because—it’s right next door, Morris Canal is one of my favorite trips, because of the range of experiences it packs into a short excursion. First there’s the Hudson, crisscrossed by ferries and motor boats and barges and sailboats and the occasional Jetski.
Then as you enter the canal, you drift past a marina containing what seems like acres of shiny boats, including 100+ foot yachts, with names that range from the obvious to the amusing (my favorite: a gigantic yacht named “Incentive”). You pass a couple of restaurants—a fancy one to the left, and a more casual one called Surf City (complete with fake palm trees) to the right.
You veer sharply to the right, and pass under a pretty white footbridge… and suddenly you’re in the marshland. Waterfowl are dozing in the sun and lazily hunting in the water. Reeds rustle softly overhead.
Before you know it, you’re at the end of the road, or rather the road at the end: a highway crosses overhead, and the water peters out. You turn around, and ahead of you is a wondrous vista: in the foreground, reeds and pilings; behind that, the breathtaking skyline of lower Manhattan.
It’s that last view that makes Morris Canal such a treat to paddle—the juxtaposition of the bucolic and the urban. Hard to believe you’re only a mile from Manhattan.
We paddled back slowly, enjoying the sunshine, the boat wakes, and the lack of current. And we got home just a couple of hours after we left—with plenty of time to pack up the boats and go for an early dinner at one of our favorite restaurants.
It just goes to show you—sometimes the best experiences come in short trips.
Here are more photos from the trip (click on any photo to start slideshow):