The Delaware River is the longest free flowing river east of the Mississippi. It begins along the western flanks of the Catskill Mountains, where the East and West Branches join together and journey south for approximately 400 miles until reaching the Atlantic Ocean at Cape May, NJ. I’m fortunate to live near this amazing body of water and have enjoyed numerous outing on the river this summer.
In 1881 writer and naturalist John Burroughs , a friend of Walt Whitman, was one of the first to write about the joys of this great river after he built a boat and set forth on a 50 mile solo trip down the Delaware’s East Branch from Arkville to Hancock. Burroughs memorializing his trip in an essay entitled Pepacton: A Summer Adventure, reminding us all that you don’t have to go far to find adventure; the ones that are close to home will do just fine.
In preparing for his trip, Burroughs asked an important question regarding traveling companions when he wrote: “Whom shall one take with him when he goes a-courting Nature ? This is always a vital question. There are persons who will stand between you and that which you seek: they obtrude themselves; they monopolize your attention; they blunt your sense of the shy, half-revealed intelligences about you…….” Burroughs preferred dogs and boys, for their “transparency, good-nature, curiosity, open sense, and a nameless quality” that he believed were “akin to trees and growths and the inarticulate forces of nature.”
I’m fortunate to have a wife who is also my best friend. She embodies all of these qualities and more and was delighted to join me for a kayak down the river, including a jaunt through some Class I rapids in the section between Reigelsville and Milford.
I grew up rafting the Cheat River in West Virginia, which is especially exciting at high water, so getting wet doesn’t bother me. And today, we managed to get wet when Diane’s boat was pinned in the rocks and needed a little bit of untangling. Fortunately, we were on our way in no time – filled with awe as a Great Blue Heron swooped low, glidding close to the surface looking to make a meal from one of the 45 species of fish that live in the Delaware . We were also attentive to the Ospreys that nest in the Noxkamixon Cliffs that rise 300 feet above river’s surface north of Upper Black Eddy along senic PA Route 32 that passes through Washington Crossing further downstream, a place commemorated in Emanual Leutze’s famous painting of George standing in the boat that is on display at the Met.
If you want to plan your own Delaware River adventure, a great place to start is online, with the Delaware Water Trail Map . You can also order a set of waterproof river maps, which I highly recommed. If you don’t have a Kayak, tubing is another option.
And when your time on the water is over, be sure to visit one of the Delaware River Towns , each has its own special charm. Once this COVID crisis is over, we hope to visit Canal House Station in Milford, NJ In Mach, they were one of 4 restaurants in New Jersey named as a 2020 James Beard Award Semi Finalist. You can follow their acclaimed blog Canal House Cooks Lunch for ideas to inspire your own cooking.