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The Ramapo was on the low side for paddling today. We found ourselves scraping through most of the riffles, and dragging through quite a few as well. There was good parking at both the put in and take out.
Just below Halifax Road, the Ramapo twists past a pond then narrows and heads into the woods of the Ramapo Reservation. Here, we encountered the first of many shallow riffles. Just downstream, the river filters through an old crumbling rock dam. While there was an easy carry on the right, the water was low so we simply carried over the rocks. I found out the hard way that the rocks are extraordinarily slippery.
Soon, we passed under the park pedestrian bridge and practiced maneuvers in some nice easy fast water just downstream. The Ramapo continued through a shady woods and boulder studded stream bed until it began to deepen and widen out. Here we had a beautiful view of the hills reflecting on the still water. Soon a private residence came into view on the right, and a bridge leading to it. There was a sign warning of the dam ahead. Once under the bridge, we headed towards the left, where there is a portage around a sloping concrete dam. This dam could be hard to see if there was no warning.
Beyond the dam, the river became shallow again and there were many riffles up to Bear Swamp road and its interesting antique wooden decked bridge. Cars going over it sounded like thunder in the distance. The banks now were the backyards of beautiful expensive houses. The water deepened again, a precursor of the next dam, which was a large V shaped 3 footer. The channel split around a small island, and we took the right channel. This was a good choice as it led to an easy portage on the right. I would definitely avoid the left channel in higher water. This day, it didn’t matter, as there was not enough water going over the dam to carry a kayak over, so I just bumped up against the concrete top and was able to step out onto the top of the dam. We stepped down and then pulled our boats over and were on our way. With what little water we had backed up behind the dam, there was even less to float on now.
The remaining mile was very shallow and riffly, with an interesting S turn, with some nice quick water that would have been a lot more fun with just a few inches more to float on. As we approached the bridge for Midvale Mountain Rd, our take out, we were dragging as much as paddling. We deduced that if we check the water level at the take out bridge and the rocky riffle there looks floatable, this whole section will be much easier.
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