Some friends joined me on a river trip in early August to paddle 34 miles of the Delaware River - it was a fantastic time, on a beautiful river. Five of us met up on a Thursday evening at the Worthington State Forest campground, so we could get an early start Friday. We decided on this river mostly because it was less than a four hour drive for everyone. Adam and I drove together and were the first ones to the camp Thursday. Frank arrived shortly after us, and helped us pick a site. Most of the camping at Worthington is along the river which is nice, but it is also very uneven and hilly due to the fact it is in a gorge. I have zero pictures of this place, since it was about dark when we arrived, and I was more concerned with stopping my stomach from grumbling at me. We got a fire going, cooked some sausages and had a few beverages while we waited for the others to show up. Our crew consisted of: Frank and Loren -two of my roomates from college, Frank's brother Adam - who you will remember from the 'dacks paddle last fall, Loren's (and now our) friend Dave a fellow RIT graduate, and my buddy Ian, who I lived next to my first year in Baltimore.
We were up early on Friday to pack away our gear and eat some breakfast - bagels from NY city. We met our shuttle driver at the take out - which was the actual Delaware Water Gap. We loaded all of our food, boats, beverages, coolers, ice and other wonderful crap you can take on overnight paddle trips - and began the long drive up to our put in. The drive took about 2 hours with traffic, a stop at a landing to let another crew off, a stop at the outfitter to get boats for Loren and Dave, and finally to our put in at Milford Beach. We had lunch, I put together the Folbot, and we loaded gear. We got on the water around 1, with sunny skies and a swift 1.5 mph current.
Our goal on day 1 was to paddle 12 miles - we ended up going 16. Somehow we missed a group of 4 campsites that we planned to stay at, we did not feel like paddling upstream, so we pressed on to find the next group, which was 4 miles down stream.
We arrived at a site around 630 and were greeted by frat boys playing frisbee and bro-ing out in the water right next to the site. With really no other option, other than 2 more miles of water, we made the decision to stay so we could set up camp before dark. We realized quickly why this site was vacant - it was pretty much a field of poison ivy. We put on long pants, made sure everyone knew what to look for and began setting up camp.
Lucky for us the Bro's in the next campsite must have gotten too drunk before dinner to continue partying into the night (or they were considerate campers), either way we had peace and quiet after the sun went down. I cooked up a dutch oven meal of white chicken chilli and we ate it with the soggy bread that I had forgot was in the cooler....
The sun had gone down while we were eating, so we sat around our fire and drank our coolers full of beer. After the food had been devoured, and plenty of beer drank, we noticed a spot light shining in the trees around our campsite. It was a boat, lit up like the fourth of July, with lights shining into the water all over the sides of it. We were all a bit curious what the hell this thing was doing in front of our campsite, so I wondered down to ask. When I got to the river bank, I noticed a figure on the boat holding a compound bow, I asked what they were doing, and got the gruff reply of "carpin". They were hunting carp with spot lights and archery gear, and they nailed one right in front of our site. It was an interesting thing to witness.
We were all pretty lazy the following morning, nursing some hangovers and not in any kind of a hurry - since we had paddled 4 extra miles the previous day. As the fog lifted, we began the task of packing gear, while Loren and Dave cooked us up a breakfast of maple bacon and eggs - it was delicious as expected.
We only had 6 miles to float to our next campsite, which we reserved ahead of time. It turns out this was a good move, as there were about a thousand other boaters on the water that day, all racing to find a good campsite.
After doing the dishes, we finished the load out and packed the boats up for our lazy river day. About a mile downstream at the Bushkill access we met up with our sixth member, Ian, who had to work Friday. This worked out very well for us, because he resupplied us with ice and beer, and we were able to leave some our thawed out ice packs in his car to make room in the coolers. We continued down stream for another mile or so till we found a decent spot for lunch, right at the beginning of wolpack bend - and the hoards of people that filled this beautiful gorge up.
I took zero pictures, it was high noon, and the gorge was a mass of floating objects - canoes, kayaks, tubes, and 50% of them were drunk people with thick long island accents. Looking back it was quite the scene. After another 4 miles of floating, fishing, and drinking our adult beverages, we arrived at our designated site, around 5 pm. There are six sites available for reservation on the river, at a new camp area called Alosa, and all of them were reserved. We had the last site in the group, which meant fewer neighbors. We got out of our boats to explore the site, and were a bit disappointed in the solitude it provided. There was a wide trail on the river side, and then a gravel road directly behind the site, complete with a handicapped porta potty (which no one had a problem with in the AM, when nature called repeatedly). We held a quick meeting around the provided fire ring, and decided that it was best to stay here, given the amount of people we saw continue past us searching for spots to camp. The site was more like camping in a state park campground than a river campsite. The NP rangers showed up before sundown to make sure everyone was in the proper spot and behaving appropriately. I was designated the group spokesperson, so I chatted them up for a few minutes, and they went along to the next site.
We had another great evening, and a huge fire to go along with it. There was pre-cut firewood everywhere from when the park service had cleared space for the campsites - it was quite convenient. I cooked up some chicken pot pie in the dutch oven, and a sara lee frozen apple pie. We were suppose to have salad with dinner, but I misplaced the dressing, so we decided not to eat plain lettuce. The salad dressing was found much later that night, along with the dessert from the previous evening stowed away with my dry gear. Good thing we didn't have any curious visitors to our campsite the night before.... With the beer flow slowing down, we decided to head to bed, so we hung the bear bags by the river and turned in for the evening.
We were up early the next morning with plans of being on the water by 9. We had 12 miles to paddle, and everyone had to drive home that day as well. We made pretty good time packing up and getting breakfast ready.
Breakfast was eaten, dishes were cleaned and boats were packed for the water by 930, not to shabby for a bunch of slightly hungover boaters.
Our last day on the water was yet another beautiful sun filled day. We were once again joined by hoards of other canoeists the first part of the day, and we quickly paddled past the large groups of tubers we encountered at each water access. The lower section of the DWG is by far the most accessible and popular, we passed 2 public beaches which were both busting at the seams with beach goers. Every landing we passed the river traffic became heavier, but the river is wide enough here that we were still able to find a little peace and solitude.
We fished and floated our way down the river until about 1, where we found our own private island for a lunch break, thankfully we had some shade as well. After a quick shore lunch, we got back on the water for our last 4 miles of the river. Once the piers of an old railroad bridge are in sight, the gap is right around the bend. We picked our way through small rapids, avoiding swimmers and tubers and rounded the bend to see the water gap, and about 100 other people on shore. This was our take out, and we began the process of loading boats and gear, this time into the cars. We loaded everything, while Dave took Ian to his car at Bushkill Landing and everyone was on the road by 430ish. We all had a great time, although next time we plan to pick a trip with a lot less people, and a lot more solitude.