Hackensack River Canoe & Kayak Club

paddling for over a third of a century

Worthington to Belvidere
by Laurie Cochran

August 31, 2008
Trip Coordinator: John Franzetti
Assistant: Scott Hagaman

Beautiful sunny day, great paddling! Trip coordinator, John Franzetti scheduled everyone to meet at 9:15 am at the Kittitinny Visitor Center located at the Delaware Water Gap (Last exit on Route 80 before the bridge/toll). Everyone arrived on time and we caravanned 13 cars to Worthington State Park for the put in. This trip consisted of 16 people with 15 boats (John and Scott donned canoes while the rest of us ventured out in Kayaks)

All boats were removed from our cars and once again the caravan of 13 cars headed to the take out at Belvidere. Three brave soles stayed behind with our boats to guard our lunches.

Upon our return, we all ventured out into the waters at about 11:45 am. Having only canoed the Delaware about 30 years ago, I was excited for my first “river trip” in my kayak. Yes, I am a “newbie”, as were several others on the trip. Everything was beautiful! Bright sunny day, blue skies, clean/clear waters, and even a Bald Eagle flew overhead! This was going to be a GREAT day!

We ventured downstream, Scott taking role as “Sweep”, we went under Route 80 and through The Gap. Very pretty scenery. We passed many happy picnickers along the shoreline enjoying their Labor Day Weekend. Tube Floating is very popular on the Delaware and there were no shortage of folks enjoying a lazy float on the river.

At about 12:45, John said he heard some “growling stomachs” so just through the Gap we stopped for lunch. Some members brought along chairs, others pulled up a rock to sit on. We enjoyed our lunch and friendly conversations. Oh yes, can’t forget dessert… Red Twizzlers. Thanks Lori Y.!

As for the river, being a “newbie”, I was curious as to what kind of conditions I would be coming up against on my first river expedition. This trip was listed as “an easy paddle” so what size “riffles” would I be coming up against? Would I be able to handle it? Would I be the ONE to fall out of my boat? Would I need my spray skirt? Well, I would soon find out. I chose not to wear my spray skirt (in fact no one did). I can remember looking ahead to the first set of “riffles”, baby rapids I call them, don’t know if they even have a “class number”, it was exciting. When approaching fast moving water, the first thing you notice is the noise! I looked ahead and saw mini white caps. All I could think of was trying to recall what Martin had been teaching us in his “Moving Water Demonstration” at one of the club meetings. Okay…where are the rocks and how do I NOT hit them? Now… The Delaware is full of rocks! Watching each boat pass through and survive was comforting. There were a few sections that became a little more difficult. Some very low areas where the rocks were scrapping the bottom of the boats. Not a fun time to be in an inflatable boat as Judy noted. Another spot where it was fast moving water, became very narrow and a log hidden under the water caused a paddler (no names) to take a swim. Fellow paddlers came to her rescue and all was well.

Our next rest area was fun, several members floated in the warm waters, some were pumping water out of their boats (me included), some of us were honing their botany skills by trying to identify tree types and then there was the “Rock Skipping” contest! Scott brought back some great childhood memories when he found the perfect flat rocks to “skip”! A few of us joined in. Frank won with 13 skips and Scott was the runner up with 12 ½!

Besides the bald eagle, we saw some of the usual characters along the trip. Some feathered friends were: Great Blue Heron, Cormorants, King Fishers, Killdeer, Turkey Vultures, and a pair of Common Mergansers perching on a rock.

We again paddled along, the Jet Ski’s became annoying. The noise was obnoxious and they were traveling at great speeds on such shallow water. (Did look like fun though!) Several motorboats passed by also.

As we approached a train bridge, we noticed a group of teens hanging out up on the bridge. It reminded me of a scene from the movie “Stand By Me”. As we watched, we saw them leaping from 30 plus feet into the water. What fun! Crazy, but fun. I didn’t think the water was deep enough. Then we noticed another boy, about 17, climbing to the TOP of the railroad bridge. Many onlookers gathered at this point. He shouldn’t be up there, let alone attempting to jump off! I didn’t want to watch. Two more of his friends joined him and yes…they jumped from the 60 +/- feet into shallow waters and survived. I guess they have something from the summer of 2008 to brag about now.

After 15 ½ miles of paddling, in just over 6 hours, we arrived at the take out, Belvidere boat launch at approximately 6pm. John mentioned “Seven members headed on to the Log Cabin Inn located in Columbia, for pizza and beer and had a great time. The cabin is a rustic bar and attached dining area built in the 20's with sagging wood ceilings and floors and dimly lit. They offer big portions and very good food. The Smithfields were going down smooth, so were the Landsharks.”

Gratitude goes out to John for commandeering this trip. And to Scott for his assistance and patience! Your efforts are appreciated!