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Posts Tagged ‘Delaware’

Kathy and I embarked on what ended up being a fun adventurous 5-hour kayak trip down the Delaware River that spanned 13.7 miles between the Water Gap and Belvidere, NJ take out.  We had done this trip plus a little more in June 2009 with the HRCKC but this is the first time we would try the Delaware’s riffles by ourselves.  The long short of it was we didn’t remember that trip being that long on the river as we encountered, but the time on the river was so comfortable, the 5 hours didn’t seem that bad.  Somehow I did the entire 5 hours without leaving my cockpit.  Kathy had the fortune, or misfortune in having to portage her way through some shallow rocky areas later on in the paddle.

It was a very nice to hot day on the river.  Weather was expected to the rain free, slight humidity and in the low 90’s.  The billowing clouds didn’t do much to shade us but they did provide for some very nice reflections in the water.  In addition, there were some really cool clouds to the east on the way home.

To view the photos I took from this trip in my Picasa online album go to:
http://picasaweb.google.com/lgindoff/20100711DelawareRiverWaterGapToBelvidere?feat=directlink

For us the real fun of this paddle resides in the many opportunities to go through the riffles and rapids.  There are 10 to 12 episodes of them and some you go through like a knife through butter and others you it wrong and get the kayak swamped by white-caps cresting over your bow.  It’s a blast.  Kathy’s first encounter resulted in her going right into a rock.  That got her heart pounding for the rest of the trip.  She certainly was relaxed and relieved when the whole journey was over.

Below is the timeline based on the picture’s time and GPS stamps

  • 12:29 – Boats unloaded at the Gap
  • 12:33 – First picture in the river
  • 12:44 – In the heart of the Gap (0.5 mies)
  • 12:57 – Past the first island (1.1. mies)
  • 1:23 – Approaching abandoned multi-arched railroad bridge (2.75 miles)
  • 1:41 – Note a possible put in at Columbia just before the Portland-Columbia Pedestrian Bridge
  • 1:44 – Go under the Portland-Columbia Pedestrian Bridge (4 miles)
  • 1:48 – Go under the N. Delaware Dr. Toll Bridge (4.2 miles)
  • 2:04 – See the power plant’s 2 smokestacks
  • 2:08 – At the power plant’s effluent release (5.4 miles)
  • 2:21 – Stop for lunch just shy of the railroad trestle where kids jump off into the river below
  • 2:42 – Finish lunch and go under the railroad trestle
  • 2:45  – Photograph multiple dare devils jumping off the bridge (6 miles)
  • 3:00 – Pass the Delaware River Family Campground on the NJ side
  • 3:29  – Encounter the first set of large islands by the Driftstone on the Delaware Campground and we take the skinny western channel (8 mies)
  • 3:44 – We merge back into the entire river (8.9 miles)
  • 3:49 – We encounter the next big island and we once again take the skinnier western channel (9 miles)
  • 4:07 – We merge back into the main river (10 mies)
  • 4:22 – Encounter next smaller island and take shallower eastern channel.  This was a mistake  as Kathy had to step out and portage a bit.  I managed to push my way through without getting out (10.75 miles).
  • 4:35 – We finally get out of the shallow channel and merge back with the river (11.3 miles)
  • 4:37  – We spot 4 heron just in front of use and I photograph them for a while
  • 4:42 – Last heron picture
  • 5:07 – I spot the Water St. Bridge in Belvidere.  The takeout is just beyond it.
  • 5:20 – We go under the Water St. Bridge in Belvidere (13.6 miles)
  • 5:22  – Last picture on the water before we go a shore (13.7 mies)
  • 6:19 – Picking up my car at the Water Gap Visitor’s Center on Rt.80 where we put in.
  • 7:58 – First picture at the Denville Dog Park

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This was my birthday paddle so I was able to convince Kathy to venture on to the Delaware River.  She was apprehensive kayaking alone with me on a moving river but the current was ultra calm and the trip was more of a paddling exercise than a float down the river.  We were  fortunate and the weather was beautiful for the day.  Temperature was in the low 90’s with only medium humidity but billowing clouds provided us with a comforting shade for most of the trip.

The northern portion of this trip down the Delaware was new territory for us.  Our plan was to go from the Poxono launch area, located about 9 miles north of Route 80 on the New Jersey side to the Delaware River Water Gap Visitors Center located just south of Route 80.   In total the trip was 9.5 miles and we accomplished it in just under 4 hours (3’55”).

We paddled the Worthington State Park to Water Gap portion of this trip last year but that was a long trip with the HRCKC.  Today’s trip down the Delaware was the first time we took advantage of having kayak racks on both vehicles. This made the trip quick and efficient.  That was crucial since the trip up Old Mine Road along the river was slow and treacherous, fill with huge craters.

The exciting moment of this trip was the spotting and photographing of a bald eagle.  We first saw him on a branch about 8 feet above the river and then he flew out into a tree branch about 20 feet above us.  Fortunately, I was able to photograph it until it flew off.  Kathy also caught a few shaky moments on the video.  This is only the second time we have seen a bald eagle on a kayak trip, we saw one on the Raritan River in Pisctaway the first time.   That’s why you have to got to every paddle.

Shortly after seeing the eagle, we saw a single blue heron flying along the western river bank  It eventually glided to a landing on the eastern bank of the river.  I was able to silently float up to it and get a few photographs of it standing on the river’s bank before it got wind of me and jumped up flapped off across the river.  Fortunately, I was able to capture it as it flew across the Delaware to the Jersey side.  These may be some of my best photos of blue herons I have taken to date.  The river and the bank framed the bird nicely as it flew across the river.  You can see it flying both flapping its wings as well as opening and closing its beak as it flies.

The only other wildlife we saw were a turtle sunning on a rock and a mallard duck hanging out by itself on the other side of the river.  We did eventually see an abandoned baby duckling so who knows if these two were looking for each other. All this wildlife was in a pretty concentrated area of the river, so if we ever come by this area again we should take notice and pay attention.  When you come to the island just south of the PA boat access point, take the western channel because this is where we found the turtle, eagle and heron.

The timeline according the photo stamps is provided below.  Additionally, to see the majority of the photos I took, check them out on the Picasa Web Album at the ink below:
http://picasaweb.google.com/lgindoff/20100623KayakingTheDelawareRiverFromPoxonoToTheGap?feat=directlink

  • 12:28 – Kayaks unpacked and ready to go
  • 12:36 – First picture in the water
  • 1:03 – Pass the new expansive picnic area on the Jersey side
  • 1:21 – Pass the boat launch areas on the PA side
  • 1:27  – We take the western channel around and island where all the wild life was.  Here we see a turtle.
  • 1:32 – First spot the bald eagle and take pictures.
  • 1:45 – Last picture of the bald eagle.
  • 1:47 – Spot a blue heron
  • 1:50 – Last picture of the blue heron
  • 2:16 – Pass Worthington and see a duck
  • 3:05 – We see kids jumping into river at old bride abutments
  • 3:20 – Go under Route 80
  • 3:45 – The furthest downstream extent.
  • 3:50 – Last Picture on the water.
  • 3:56 – Out of the water getting the car from the parking lot

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DCC_8039_edited-1A rainy past couple of days presented us with a grey cloudy morning in which to drive to our Delaware Water Gap (DWG or Gap) kayaking trip with the Hackensack River Canoe and Kayak Club (HRCKC).  John Franzetti in the red canoe was our organizer and kudos to him for executing a perfect trip.  The water was great, the weather was great and the people on the trip were all nice.  I think this is what the HRCKC is all about and I am glad I found it.

DCC_7751_edited-1Kathy and I so far in our recent  journey have only paddled the Passaic and Rockaway Rivers.  While we have both gone down the Delaware with work and friends in the not-so-recent past, this would be our first trip in our own kayaks.  This time we were putting in south of where either of us has paddled before going through Delaware Water Gap and taking out in Belvidere, NJ.  Seemed like a pretty long trip, 12 miles so I thought, but with the current of the Delaware pushing you along, it should be a joy to paddle.

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Right on time, at 9:00 we arrived at the National Park Visitor’s Center rendezvous located at the last exit in NJ off of Route 80.  Once there we found out we were going to caravan up 3-mile to the campgrounds at Worthington State Park. We spent 30 minutes schmoozing here using flush toilets, taking pictures before heading up to Worthington on Old Mill Road which parallels the Delaware.  Kathy and I have camped at Worthington before and are familiar with the location.

DCC_7683_edited-1At 9:40 we started to unload the boats at the Worthington boat ramp parking lot and then one person per car shuttled up to Belvidere.  In Belvidere it was garage sale day and the whole town was for sale.  There is no option to stop with a group like this especially considering the paddle was dominated by women who seemed to be especially ravenous at the thought of a town-wide garage sale.  We found the take out point at the end of Front Street, filled up the parking lot and squeezed into 3 cars and shuttled back to Worthington State Park.  We arrived back at Worthington at 11:15.  Here we had one last chance to use a composting toilet and in the river we went at 11:30.  The put in had a great concrete boat ramp and getting in for me was dry and smooth.  I immediately unpacked the camera and camcorder and started taking shots.

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One thing you notice when comparing the Delaware to the Rockaway and Passaic Rivers is the bigness of the Delaware.  There is a lot of water flowing and the mountains, especially in and around the gap are big and you can see distances.  The other rivers are dominated by personal woodlands on the banks and you are much closer to everything.  In the Delaware you look far and wide.  In addition, the Delaware is much deeper at points and the water seems much cleaner.  We saw virtually no litter or pollution and the water was not muddy or murky at all.

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With respect to wildlife, there was little to see and enjoy.  Buzzards circling  high over the cliffs were everywhere, a few geese, one heron, no fish, mammals, reptiles.  There were some wild kids threatening life and limb jumping off a railroad trestle just before lunch.

Along the way it was mostly undeveloped, undevelopable land, but after leaving the Gap, more and more homes appeared along the shore.  More so on the PA side.  Many had developed their access to the river.  There were a few private swim clubs and motor boats and jet-skis made their minor presence known in the river.  It is amazing what the wake from a small boat does to the kayak.  Pretty cool.

Speaking of which, this trip down the Delaware presented Kathy and I with the most turbulent waters we have yet faced.  This also was pretty cool and exciting.  In addition, compared to my vague memories of trips I took decades ago, the strong riffles/rapids we faced in this trip happened often, Not just once or twice over the course of the day.  I would guess we had 12 or so episodes of rapids into riffles into waves which were something to deal with.  At times the crests of the waves dwarfed our kayaks and when you hit one right, splash!  It was more of a thrill than I expected and you got a lot of it.  It’s time for Kathy to get her own bilge pump and it’s time for me to keep my bilge pump at the ready.  In addition, we  both need to get big automobile sponges to sop up the mess after you get soaked.   To date all my camera protections and precautions have worked, but it maybe time to get a water-proof camcorder so I can relax a bit and enjoy the ride.  It wasn’t too bad where I was paranoid so it was still worth the effort and risk.  In closing with respect to the water and the movement of it, it was a lot of fun and I cannot wait to do it again.  Hopefully the video shows some of the excitement.

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DCC_7737_edited-1Back to the itinerary. We spotted the Route 80 overpass around 12:00 and Route 80 for the next hour or made it’s presence know with its constant din and occasional odd sound of a truck doing something that sounds like it is killing its engine.  At 12:09 I was under the Route 80 overpass making a left turn toward the Delaware Water Gap.  There were many nice turns and new vistas presented in this trip and this left furn from Route 80 to the Gap was one of the best.  Mount Tammany dominates the scene for a while but it is what the Gap is all about.

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There were lots of overpasses to go under in this trip,  Route 80 was one but there were several abandoned bridges and trestles along the way.  As previously mentioned, we saw two crazy teenagers jump off one of them.  One other was a cool stone multi-arch bridge.  Unlike the the other rivers we have been on, bridge abutments didn’t poses and navigational challenges in the currents of this river and didn’t impact the flow to any appreciable degree.

DCC_7782_edited-1At 12:30 we passed the launching area where we assembled at 9:00 in the morning.  A few people got out to use the bathrooms so we just hung for a while with Mount Tammany and the Gap looming in the foreground.  By 12:45 we were passing through the Gap directly under Mount Tammany as we say good bye to it and all its glory.

From this point on the river got deeper stronger and more exciting.  We encounter more recreational uses of the river, more riffles and less scenery.  It’s not that it was ugly, it just wasn’t as majestic as the gap.

We passed under the abandoned multi-arched bridge at 1:15.  It has trees growing on it. and then went under a new looking pedestrian bridge at 1:20.  There was another overpass, just past this pedestrian one and I think it is for rail, but I am  not sure.  Shortly thereafter at 1:35 we come upon a power plant in Pennsylvania, just about the only real industrial complex we found during the while trip.  It had 2 large stacks and an effluent release that cascades off of a large concrete block.

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At 1:50 we went under the abandoned railroad trestle where the kids were jumping of the bridge.  I barely got a shot of one of them jumping and I think I got a video of one of the jumping.  None of the footage is that good unfortunately.  It is difficult to turn your body in a kayak to take pictures with 2 hands of subjects behind you.  I’m glad I didn’t photograph anyone getting hurt as the two daredevils seemed to survive the encounter.

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DCC_7949_edited-1At 1:55 we were pulling over to the pebbly shore of New Jersey to eat lunch.  In and out of the kayaks here was easy and eating and standing felt good.  I had 2 PB&J sandwiches, Kathy had one, some honey-dew and back we went.  At 2:30 we were getting back into the water.  Now most of the fun would happen with several stretches of large riffles that randomly soaked a paddler that dared hit the crest of the wave wrong.

As we lagged toward the back of the pack we encountered a few forks in the river starting around 3:00pm that we took. The forks in the river were created by the presence of several large islands in the middle of the water.  This provided some smaller channels to go through, which was a nice change of pace, but where the channels came together it usually resulted in some adventurous currents.

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With respect to lagging behind, in our 12′ recreational kayaks, it seemed difficult to keep up with the rest of the pack as the day wore on.  We paddled hard but it was tough to catch up to everyone else.  The day was certainly characterized by a lot of paddling, non-stop for the most part, and there was a lot of arm and shoulder toning going on.  It was amazing how effortless it seemed the canoes were  in moving swiftly through the waters.  By 4:15 I finally worked my way to the front of the armada so I could turn around and get some frontal photographs of the paddlers in the club.  Most of these kayaker photos I posted in my Google Picasa Web Album which I shared with the club.  You can get to it by using the link below or just enjoy the embedded slideshow.

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2009-06-06 Delaware Water Gap HRCKC Paddle

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DCC_8067_edited-1At 4:25 we staged for landing at the Belvidere overpass into Pennsylvania. I spotted a few swans resting in a patch of vegetation but nothing too exciting. There was a boy scout troop at the take out point that crowded the area but they did help several of us get out of the boats and carry them up to the parking lot. John, help with mine.

At 4:30 I has out of the water and by 4:40 I already had one kayak on the car. We took Route 46 home, all the way, for a change of pace. We got home at 6:00 to feed and walk the dogs. Made a quick turn around unpacked, showered and off to visit Kathy’s brother Joe in Montclair for dinner. We got home after dinner and crashed good. We are now looking forward to having a little more fun on the Delaware River now that we know a little more about what is is all about.

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Just a little more “diary of the mouth” from your humble narrator Larry.

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