Sunday, August 26, 2007

One River With Multiple Personalities

Pic #1 Looking upstream at Mill Rift, just upstream from Elephant Feet Rocks.
Pic #2 Lunch stop at Buckhorn Natural Area.

The Delaware is one great river, but seen as a water body its characteristics reflect geology and topography as it flows down from its headwaters to its tailwaters. The Delaware River cuts through four physiographic provinces: the Appalachian Plateau, Valley and Ridge (and Highlands subset), Piedmont, and Coastal Plain.

These physiological features have driven the patterns of human settlement and enterprise from the late Paleolithic period to the present.

And in the 21st century the primary activity that occurs in the Applachian Plateau stretch of the river is non-motorized boating with a mild whitewater flavor. The Upper Delaware is the most visited stretch of the river which speaks to its proximity to the NYC metro area and its abundance of class two water. It is also arguably the prettiest section of the river, at least in terms of its natural beauty.

I tend to paddle that which is near me and the Upper River is over 100 miles upstream. So any trip to the Upper Delaware National Scenic River is a rare treat, and so it was last Wednesday when I traveled to Barryville NY for a 10.5 mile run down to Matamoras PA. Neither rain nor mist can diminish the pleasures of playing in the rapids, surrounded by mountains and watched by Bald Eagles. I met up with a soggy group of paddlers from the Mohawk Canoe Club who were on the last day of a 5-day 75-mile canoe and camping trip between Hancock and Matamoras.

I'll be heading back with a group of Piedmont friends to do a slightly longer version of the stretch (7.5 miles longer actually) on September 8. A Mormon needs his Tabernacle, a Catholic her Cathedral, a Moslem his Mosque, a holy roller....well, point being that a river or creek is the only santuary that I need for spiritual uplift.