My friends and I spent three beautiful days along the scenic Delaware River that splits Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The weather could not have been better. We had daytime highs in the 80's and nighttime low's in the upper 50's. Not a drop of rain was felt. Sandals and swim trunks were the clothing of choice. I believe the bothersome bugs were held at bay due to the fact that we all needed to have a really relaxing weekend. Myself, being a tick magnet (yes, unfortunately tick not chick) removed at least a dozen of the unwanted visitors from my body before they could take up residence. My buddies Steve and Tony found no intruders of this type. The farmlands and banks along the river are known for dog and deer ticks. I've run into all of them whether paddling, fishing or hunting in this area. Tony and I started this trip on a Saturday morning at the Matamoras access maintained by the PA fish commission about a mile above the Mid-Delaware Bridge on the PA side. My sister Alice generously offered to help transport my truck to the end of our trip so that on Monday when we are done we can just load up and go. After a phone call to the nice people at the Kittatinny Visitor Center at the Delaware Water Gap I learned that a vehicle can be left there overnight. All that they asked for is the model of the vehicle, license plate number and when we were expected to finish our trip. Thank you to our Park Service employees.
The water on Sat. was a little brown due to some heavy storms earlier in the week and the flow was a little faster than normal. Tony and I took it easy today. We were only paddling about 11 miles today. Unfortunately, my friend Steve would not be joining us until Sun. morning due to his work schedule so we decided to due the majority of our trip on the last two days. Just above Milford PA you enter the DWG Nat. Rec. Area. For the next 40 miles there are over 100 campsites accessible only from the river and are free of charge. They are designed for one nights stay for those who are traveling the river in distances too great to be covered in one day. You can see the signs from the river for each site, they all have fire rings and some even have a toilet seat growing up from the ground in the middle of the woods.
Our first night Tony and I camped on Minisink Island about a mile downstream from Milford access. After setting up camp and an hour-long swim/stand? in the strong currents (it was like being in a whirlpool, water temp about 70) we feasted on thawed, marinated steaks and baked potato. since Steve couldn't be there we had to split his steak. I think his half tasted the best. To lighten the load a bit the brandy went into a 1 liter sport bottle. This made for an unusual campfire sippin'. If you squeeze too hard it shoots right down your throat. Just a word of caution should you try this method for your sippin's.
Sunday morn. Steve met us at the island telling us how his wife made us egg sandwiches and he stopped for doughnuts along the way. We rejoiced as our pancakes weren't coming out quite as planned. Then the letdown came as he told us he was just kidding. Payback for all the steak comments.
As we shoved off we realized the river had gone down some and the water was crystal clear. We had sunny skies and 18 miles to go to the next camp. It was good to be us. The Delaware is home to all types of fish and you can see all of them as you look down with the current. If you look to the banks the wildlife is incredible. Black bear, deer, wild turkey, ducks, geese, Bald Eagle and heron (aka. water turkey- thanks Steve) and more are what you will see along the trip. As you approach the public beaches and rafting trips you will see a different type of wildlife. Don't worry, in your kayak or canoe you will soon leave them behind.
The three of us spent the second night just below the Bushkill access just above the start of the Walpack Bend. I always carry a pair of swimmer's goggles and this day I was rewarded by floating with the current face down and sneaking up on many types of aquatic life. Always try to take time to enjoy the scenery below you as well as around you. We finished off the night with a dinner of shrimp linguini and potato.
If you ever pitch your tent on a sandy area with a few small ant mounds around then I guess you can expect to wake up to a black bear licking the ants off the side of your tent. Tony now knows this. What was most upsetting about this to him was his camera was outside on a log by the fire pit. After a little shoo from Tony and a paw pounce by the bear at the tent he wandered off as quietly as he came.
We launched Mon. morn. with 16 miles to our put out at the Kittatinny access. We had another beautiful day with a headwind of about 10 mph. There are always bittersweet feelings when you are finishing a trip no matter what the length. I take these times to reflect on the times from the planning stages through the end and think that there has to be a way to quit the world as we know it and do things like this all the time. The Delaware River is a diverse river with some excellent rapids above where we put in. The stretch that we did has some class 1 -1+ rapids during normal flow with areas of flat water in between. This stretch of river is excellent for any beginner and relaxing for the more advanced paddler. I recommend obtaining a River Guide pamphlet from the National Park Service. It shows the river, accesses, campsites and roads along the river.
Good reading before the trip is a book by Gary Letcher entitled Canoeing the Delaware River. It covers the river from beginning to end and lists a mile by mile account of what you can expect to encounter along the way along with brief histories of the areas that you will paddle through. Always a good time on the river. Our total trip was about 45 miles. We put in around 10 am and were out by 3 pm every day. Steve and I did this same trip 4 years ago with a Coleman 15 ft. canoe in two days. I strongly recommend taking a relaxing pace and three days.
Mike - I have a Nordkapp HM. A little bit too much boat for this trip but that's what I have. Just got it last summer and still learning how to use it well.
Steve - Has a Chesapeake 17. a beautiful boat he built last spring. The family truckster, it even looks like it.
Tony - a Seda Gypsy modified to a OOD- DS flying the Jolly Rodger -don't ask
You can access the Delaware from any of the major routes along the way. Routes; 80, 84, 6, 206, 209, 521.
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
Bushkill, PA 18324