Friday, October 5, 2007

The Water Gap Reprised

Perfect weather drew us out on the water again for the last weekend in September, 2007. This time we were accompanied by a couple of good friends and their dog who made the trip more fun than it would have been without them.

After scoping out a section of the Delaware River beginning at the Water Gap and running south to Easton, Pennsylvania, we opted instead to repeat essentially the same section we did last month. This enabled us to be more relaxed since we knew what to expect along the way, plus it gave us a chance to explore some of the islands that we didn't have time to visit on our last pass.

We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at a small restaurant in a riverside village, then set about the business of shuttling our stuff and vehicles. Upon our arrival at our upstream put-in near Namanock Island access area on the New Jersey side, we unloaded the boats and left the girls to pack em up with all the gear while us guys made the 90 minute round-trip drive to place one car at the Kittatiny take out point. It was about 1pm when the five of us finally pushed off the bank and got underway.

the satellite view

The weather was as good as it gets... mid 70's, sunny, and low humidity. A nice breeze was at our backs which was an added bonus, as anyone who has ever had to paddle into a headwind can attest. The ultra-clear water reflected the dazzling sun which amplified the warming effect of the early fall rays. We were only a few minutes downstream when we began stripping off all but the minimum required clothing. It was definitely a sunscreen kinda day.

Something less than an hour after our departure we came to Dingman's Bridge. I had neglected to get a picture of this span on our last trip, so I made it a point to capture the image.

approaching Dingman's Bridge

our accomplices

I should mention that our cohorts are both stand-up comedians by trade. They kept us laughing the whole weekend. We were indeed privileged to have them along for entertainment.

the comedy duo of L & L

After a long afternoon of paddling, we were eager to find our perch for the night. It came not a moment too soon in the form of two adjacent free campsites, numbers 67 and 68. These are located on a portion of the river known as Walpack Bend which is a three mile stretch of mostly quiet water where the river reverses direction twice. The last time we passed through here, all of the thirty or so campsites along both banks were occupied. This time there were far less people on the water and since you can only access these sites by boat, there were several prime locations to pick from. This is an especially pretty part of the river.

a welcome site

We set up camp and ate a hearty meal, then sat around the fire for awhile toasting marshmallows. At least I was toasting them... what the others were doing could more accurately be described as burning them to a crisp. After our friends decided to hit the sack, my wife and I hit the local bar for a nightcap. Gravel bar that is, with a bottle of spring water for liquid refreshment. We walked out onto the stony peninsula with our camp chairs and plopped them down facing directly into the moonrise, which just happened to be occurring exactly downstream, which was the ONLY direction which afforded a view of a distant horizon. What amazing luck!

The next morning, someone woke our friend up in the middle of a dream and she responded by attacking the camera person with a deadly weapon. Had we known at the time that this woman was regional champion at long-distance slingshotting, we might have taken her more seriously. She demonstrated her talents later in the day by launching a vacant clamshell a phenomenal distance with impressive form and skill.

DWGNRA slingshot champ of 2007

The morning mist eventually burned off and revealed another clear-as-a-bell day. It was also revealed that some of us are more efficient at breaking camp than others.

happy family

I am quite sure that the pup had great time on our outing. She got to run wild and explore the whole area around our camp, she got to sleep INSIDE the tent ON the soft sleeping bags of her owners, and she didn't even have to get her feet wet when it was time to re-board her canoe.

daddy's got you baby

Although I never saw the mutt pick up a paddle the whole time, she DID contribute some labor... she performed dishwasher duty after dinner without complaint.

Having already navigated this river a month earlier, we were able to direct our friends into the shallowest portions of the stream whenever we needed some entertainment.

what's wrong with this picture?

Near the end of the journey, we all got a bit slaphappy. One of the looniest in our party introduced us to a new game. It is sort of a cross between ice hockey (without the ice) and mini-putt. Opponents use their paddles to whack a submerged golf ball toward a common goal while simultaneously preventing themselves from being carried downstream by the current. We spent a good part of half an hour trying to perfect our technique, but never succeeded in scoring a point. Maybe next time.

so close, yet so far

All good trips must come to an end, and this one was no exception. A short distance beyond the Interstate 80 span is where we took our boats out. Another ninety minute nascar-style shuttle and we were on our way home.

Thanks again L & L for being part of a fun-filled outdoor adventure.

the finish line... I-80

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