The Kayak Chronicles

by Darren Caffery

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Kayaking Reedy Creek

Brick Township, NJ

Wednesday  August 14th, 2002

The Reedy Creek Natural Area is situated at the northernmost portion of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge.  When we look down at this area as the birds look down upon it, we quickly realize the ecological importance of this natural oasis nestled in between the residential coastal sprawl of Brick Township, NJ and the Barnegat Bay.  As continued development increases the density of the surrounding sprawl and threatens to encroach and diminish the size of this oasis, this natural area becomes more vital to the wildlife and to the human inhabitants of the region. A view from above reinforces the notion that this area is certainly worth preserving and maintaining. While this area is an important natural recreation area which contributes greatly to the quality of life for nearby residents and visitors, this natural area is also a valuable part of the Atlantic Flyway, and provides an important stopover area for birds migrating south.  Many acres in this area continue to be preserved and added to the acquisitions of the refuge, thanks to the efforts of concerned local citizens and township officials, and environmental groups such as Save Barnegat Bay.

From land, visitors can access the deCamp Wildlife Trail of Reedy Creek at the intersection of Mantoloking and Adamston Roads in Brick Township. The parking area is well marked with a refuge sign and this trail offers visitors year round opportunities to experience the tranquil beauty of the refuge woodlands and wildlife.  The first 1300 feet of the trail are wide and flat with benches and interpretive signs while the remaining path becomes moderately more difficult and rustic.   The trail is open daily from sunrise to sunset. 

Visitors can also access the refuge from the waters of Barnegat Bay. Kayaking into the creek from the bay is is an ideal way to experience the beauty and tranquility of the refuge because it affords an opportunity to go farther up the creek into shallower waters that larger powerboats and personal watercraft cannot navigate into. Unfortunately, at the current time, there is no public launch site on the Barnegat Bay which is close in proximity to the entrance to the creek, so paddlers end up having to paddle a few miles before even reaching the entrance to the creek.

In the late afternoon heat, haze and humidity, Jersey Shore Sea Kayak Association member Tom Kelly and I  loaded our  kayaks,  packed some very very cold ice water and headed for the Metedeconk River in Brick Township, NJ.  After  launching  at a private site on the border of the Forsythe Wildlife Refuge on the Metedeconk River, we quickly rounded Herring Point at the mouth of the Barnegat Bay where we soon faced some 10-12 knot headwinds gusting from the south.  Chop on the bay was just enough to allow for a fun ride and as we passed under the Mantoloking Bridge, the other side of the bay was a bit  choppier and even more fun. These are the very conditions my kayak, (a Perception Eclipse) appears to be made to handle well. I found myself  gliding smoothly through the choppy, confused waters without being thrown off course much. I took some nice waves over the beam and it felt good in this sweltering summer heat we’ve been having.  The paddling was quite a workout in the short stretch of Barnegat Bay into the wind on the way to Reedy Creek.  I hoped mother nature would not switch the direction on me for the return trip. There were very few boats other than the dozen or so sailboats out near the Metedeconk River Yacht Club.  It’s always a wonderful feeling to glide along in a kayak in an almost deserted bay without having to worry about dodging powerboaters and jet-skiers.  This condition is usually only encountered on the weekdays during the summer, so I was happy to enjoy it.  Those who live in this area know how crazy the traffic on the roads and waterways can be on the weekends.

    

Paddling down the Metedeconk to Barnegat Bay

Continuing our paddle, we finally made our way through the confused waters at the mouth of Reedy Creek and into the solitude and stillness of one of my favorite small local creeks. We paddled about a mile up the creek.  With each stroke of the paddle the sound of nature became more evident. After a short distance, we observed a very large Great Blue Heron and a few stray egrets. Turtles were popping their heads up everywhere in the creek and small fish were jumping around in front of our bows. I explored a few narrow tributaries of the creek while I drank some very cold water from my well insulated water bottle. After paddling through the wind and choppy bay, the stopover in this area was a very relaxing break.  It’s easy to forget you are still in a densely populated shore town in the stillness of  Reedy  Creek. It is a natural haven from the hustling and bustling traffic of the nearby roadways and an also from the heavy Summer powerboat traffic on the Barnegat Bay.  Reedy Creek is another one of Ocean County's natural gems and I’m thankful for the preservation efforts of Save Barnegat Bay in advocating to keep this area so pristine and undeveloped.  After enjoying the peace and quiet for a little while, we started paddling back out towards the mouth of the Barnegat Bay.

    

Entering the solitude of Reedy Creek

At the mouth of the bay, I could feel and see from the chop, that the winds increased a little more. They were still blowing from the south however, and were very favorable for my paddle back. Between the wind and the flooding tide, we made it back up the bay and around Herring Point in record time, through some more choppy, confused and swift flowing water.  I also got some practice using the ‘rudder stroke’ while surfing my kayak back to the Mantoloking Bridge.

    

We logged 7.5 miles on the river, bay and creek and then we logged some serious carbohydrates as we chowed down on some food and kicked back with a few "cold ones" at the Idle Hour Restaurant & Bar in Point Pleasant.  It was an awesome way to end a great Summer afternoon kayak trip.

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