Hackensack River Canoe & Kayak Club

paddling for over a third of a century

Delaware River
by Scott Hagaman

June 26, 2004

For my son, Matt, and I, being new members, this was our fourth trip with the club and our first on the Delaware.

About a dozen members, including trip coordinator, John Franzetti, met at Dingmans Ferry to arrange put-in at Esback launch area and shuttle to takeout at Smithfield Beach area. The morning was cloudy with pockets of light rain but soon began clearing towards a bright sunny day. Martin, a man of obviously deep experience, kindly produced a box of donuts while we waited for everyone to arrive. The river was alive with canoes and kayaks and we joined them by hitting the water by mid-morning.

The water level was good for newbies getting used to moving water and those looking for a relaxing float. There were five or six nice riffles for some excitement and entertaining watching the renters handle them sideways.

Martin took the lead and promptly became a speck on the horizon but most paddled easy and intermingled in small varying groups that formed and broke up constantly. One could enjoy the scenery quietly or pick-up a conversation as the mood suited.

All pulled into a shady gravel bank for a lunch break. One sweat lady was kind enough to demonstrate the limits of kayak stability upon reentering the river after lunch. Nothing like a good friendly laugh to aid the digestion.

For me, the Wallpak Bend was the highlight of the day. This is a section that winds between tall mountains with several riffles and outstanding scenery. A bald eagle circling overhead completed the picture. Actually the scenery was wonderful the entire trip. No unsightly garbage or human encroachment anywhere. The water was clear and river bottom spotless. What a refreshing experience from many other local waters. I understand much effort goes into cleanups over many years to get to this state and it is inspirational to see success at it.

The sun and the wind where in full force as we muscled our way into Smithfield Beach around 4:30 PM. For a little less of a workout, a takeout at Bushkill launch can be considered.

Overall, the trip was everything I was looking for when joining the club - a great introduction to nice places and people.