Myself and friend Jerry Albertie have been talking about kayaking the Delaware River for a few years now but our schedules never would cooperate. The one section that has been of interest to us is between Narrowsburg, NY and Port Jervis, NY. However from what we learned the launch at Port Jervis was closed. We would kayak 32 miles over two days exiting the river at Sparrowbush, NY instead.
Finally the weekend of July 18th & 19th our lives were uncomplicated enough where we could get out on the water. The weather was hot, hazy and humid but shortly we would find the water was nice and cool.
Shuffling cars around was a little hectic but once in place boats loaded with gear we launched from the DEC site in Narrowsburg. Our plan was to paddle half on Saturday (15 Miles) and the other half on Sunday (17 Miles). We would make camp along the Delaware in Barryville, NY at the Kittatinny campground. Just east of the launch site in Narrowsburg the river flows under a arched highway bridge and from what I have been told the depth at this point can reach over 100 feet. On a rock ledge tucked under the bridge we see about a dozen people, boats pulled up on shore and others floating to watch the show. A rope tied to the sub-frame of the bridge structure made for some awesome summer fun.
Paddling east the shoreline the lush green shoreline is dotted with homes on either side, some of those homes being very impressive. The sun was beating down making it extremely toasty. Thankfully during our days journey we would encounter several sets of rapids. These rapids were fun, soaked you enough to cool you off for a bit and added a few inches of water to your boat.
To the west the skies grew darker and the rumbling of thunder could be heard in the distance. Jerry and I were making plans for a shelter should this storm catch up to us. Thankfully we were able to keep ahead of it. At Tusten, NY we encountered a railroad bridge that stretches from New York to Pennsylvania. Beneath the bridge and continuing around the bend is a wonderful set of fast moving, heat quenching rapids. A half further is the 10 Mile River Access and a National Park Ranger station where we would beach for a break and a quick snack.
Back on the water and that pesky thunderstorm still following us. skies are still growing darker to the west and seem to want to swallow us. Paddling right along, 3.5 hours later Jerry and I would reach our campsite for the night staying just ahead of the storm. Not long after getting our boats to our campsite the storm would catch us. We decided to spend the time shuttling our cars around instead, proving to be the right decision. Thankfully we decided to hold off the campfire and dinner as a deluge of rain and lightning drenched the area.
Back at our campsite and cars shuttled, I get the fire started so we can begin cooking dinner. Iced in our cooler are ribeye steaks, baked potatoes and corn on the cob. For desert we have watermelon, Fig Newtons and chocolate chip cookies. Now for an adult beverage or two. The fire is crackling away, the lime is squeezed, glass is iced and the gin and tonic poured. Jerry and I are now resting comfortably in our chairs next to the fire as we chatter about the day and what is in store for tomorrow.
Awake at 6:30AM Jerry and I begin the days preparations. A quick breakfast and another shuttling of cars. We are on the water by 9:00AM under glorious sunshine and another day of scorching heat. 17 miles ahead of us and many rapids to cool us off. Today would be a bit more entertaining than yesterday. The endless parade of rafts, kayaks, canoes and tubes would ply this section of the Delaware River from countless camping and rafting outfits along its shores. Most of them all liquored up by 9AM or so. We watched and laughed as the comedy show progressed.
Moving on the water was very placid but a little faster moving than yesterday. Jerry calls out to me look an eagle off to your right. Sure enough a Bald Eagle was sitting on the fallen tree along the river’s edge. Slowly and quietly Jerry and I approach. Surprisingly the eagle hasn’t taken off yet. We were able to get a few images before its graceful departure.
Sections of the Delaware still had fog from the early morning as we approached two men and a dog fishing from a boat. Quietly we snuck up on them before they even noticed we were there. A friendly hello and we continued on. Shortly after Jerry had a fan club. A group of ducks were hoping that Jerry made them breakfast as they followed his every move. This is typical Jerry attracting all types!
This 17 mile section of river had many more rapids than yesterday, one of my favorites was called “Staircase Rapids” just east of Pond Eddy, NY. It sounded intimidating but was more mild than the name perceived, a decent soaker at best. Then there was “Mongaup Rapids” my favorite. I got pretty soaked on this one, bounced off a few rocks, managed to stay upright, so much fun.
Approaching our last mile or so of our trip, a completion of a 32 mile two day kayak trip would not be without task. We would first have to shoot the rapids at Mill Rift, duck under a massive railroad bridge navigate a smaller set of rapids to the east of the bridge where we would reach the beachhead. This section of river recently made the news on July 7th when the Mill Rift Fire Department had to rescue 12 people in two separate incidents minutes apart. You can read the story by following the link below.
This was a wonderful trip, Jerry and I are now talking about doing another trip next summer between Hancock, NY and Long Eddy about 25 miles.