Upper Delaware 9/17/2006
Highland Access to Firemenís Beach
Barryville gage 5.2 ft
Weather mostly sunny high in mid 70s
Water conditions were 64O with light to medium silting.
Our group left from various points in New Jersey and had agreed to meet at West End Beach in Port Jervis, NY to make a final determination as to length of trip. The coordination was great as Joan and Carole coming from Ringwood on Route 6 reached met up with Jim, followed by Helen and Warren at the exit ramp from 84 into Port Jervis. We caravanned to West End Beach where Bob and Sue from HRCKC met the Wanda contingent at 10:30 as planned.
The Delaware was running a little over five feet at the Barryville gage and has a light tea color from topsoil runoff. The crest had reached almost seven feet two days earlier. We estimated that the speed of flow was two to three miles per hour. After a little discussion on how much of the river to paddle we decided that the 17 mile run from Highland access at mile 274 to Firemenís Beach at mile 257 would work for all of the people in our group.
We did a single shuttle stopping at the take-out to transfer boats and gear and left Caroleís car for and end of trip shuttle. Then drove up the route 97 scenic byway to the Highland access where there was plenty of space to park a dozen or more cars and that most important facility, a portable toilet building.
The trip was very fast. We launched at about 12:25 and were off the river 17 miles later at 4:15 after a half hour lunch stop. We paddled steadily, but comfortably. We did not stop to play. Most of the play spots were washed out with heavy standing waves in place of technical rock hopping the order of the day.
We spotted our first challenge about a half mile from the put-in, the Barryville Bridge. Due to construction activity, only a narrow passage on the right center section was available. The water was swift and a little pushy. As we passed under the bridge we entered a ĺ mile stretch of almost constant standing waves about two feet high. There were places where the waves were higher, and the ledge that crosses the river about 2/3 of the way down the rapids was a turbulent keeper. All our boats passed through without incident, although Helen told me afterwards that she had been caught by surprise to find such significant water before she had completely warmed up.
Several miles of fast water and minor rapids found us looking for a lunch stop. We took a break on river right for about 25 minutes and then continued into Stairway Rapids. The ledge at Stairway was pounding and we skirted it on river left. Most of Stairway was washed out.
The run seemed to get better and better as we continued down river. At the Mongaup rapids we followed Helen and Warren through the channel as they skirted the wild stuff on either side. Butlerís Rift was awesome. We didnít dare run left of center because of the three foot plus chaotic waves that pounded that side of the river. The gravel banks that normally keep you well out from the Pennsylvania shore were covered and easily run. Even as we entered the Hawkís Nest canyon pool, we were carried along at a pretty good pace. We saw the usual tourists hanging their feet off the railing a hundred feet above us.
As we reached Mill rift at Cherry Island Warren decide to thread his way through the huge wave on river right. Carole and Joan followed him through, but broached part way through and took on about eight inches of water. They had no time to bail before they ran the final quarter mile to Firemenís Beach, our take out. The beach access has been graded since the flood and is now ok.
We finished our trip at 4:15 having averaged over five miles per hour.
The shuttle was run and we decided to finish a perfect day with dinner. Bob suggested that we enjoy grilled offerings of The Deck at Flo Jeanís. We dined on the deck overlooking the river at the old Toll House and watched the sun set as we dined.
Jim Mc Loone