Sunday, July 9, 2017

Delaware Water Gap

Delaware Water Gap is a major landmark on the Appalachian Trail, it is also a NPS site, so has a passport stamp, and it was on my "avoid I95" route! 

I left Cunningham Falls at 7:30 to drive the 200 miles to Delaware Water Gap, this is the biggest mileage day of my trip north! Funny how things are so close together on the east coast! 

I arrived at DWG at 11 and pulled into the Welcome Center, hoping to get some directions on where to go. As I pulled in there was amiddle aged or older  man heading for his jeep, when he saw my van he was instantly enthralled and just stood there gazing at it longingly. When I parked he approached and was checking me out from all angles.  He did not knock, bug it was obvious he was waiting for someone to come out. I couldn't just hide and pretend I wasn't there, it was obvious that I was, I'd just driven in.  It was clear that he was more interested in the vehicle than me, but still, this isn't how you make new friends. At one point he got close enough to the van that I could see that his face and arms were covered with a thick layer of un-rubbed in sunscreen.  He looked a bit ridiculous and then I decided he was harmless enough to open the door and chat with him, he was dreaming of owning a Pleasure Way and it made his day to see one in person.  I chatted with him briefly but made it obvious this was a very short term relationship and he got in his jeep and drove off! 

The Welcome Center wasn't much help so I consulted Google for directions to the Kittatinny Point Visitor Center, which is right on the river and had the AT going right through it. When I got there I discovered that the parking lot was full, and 2 of the 3 "RV" spots had cars in them! I quickly decided to double park withthe smallest of the compact cars and run in to at least get my passport stamped.  I'd seen the owners prepping for a hike when I pulled in so figured they'd be gone at least the 5 minutes that it would take me to run in.  In the VC the Ranger told me about the shuttle that runs from the park and ride by the visitor center, so I went back up there to park, planning to spend more time hiking the AT & exploring.  

At the park and ride I determined that the shuttle was due in 20 minutes, so I quickly packed a lunch, changed my shoes, applied sunscreen and got ready to spend at least a few hours out exploring.  The appointed time for the shuttle to arrive came and went with no shuttle. The other couple waiting called an Uber and invited me to go along, but I declined thinking that I might have a hard time getting back if the shuttle didn't work as promised.   I waited a few more minutes and gave up on the shuttle. I drove back to the Welcome Center where I'd seen some shady picnic tables and had lunch. 

Before lunch I called Dingmans Campground to see if they had availability for tonight, which they did, so after lunch I headed up 209 to the campground.  It's a beautiful campground, big wooded sites, lots of shade, river access and, ironically, almost totally deserted. There are maybe 10 (of the 120 or so) campsites occupied tonight.  For all that fighting for parking and this place is empty! I think DWG is more of a Day Use park for people in NYC-ish area.  I probably should have come out to the campground 1st then driven back the 20 miles to the visitor center and getting there later I would have been able to park. 

 There are lots of trails and waterfalls in the park but I didn't want to fight for parking so I just pulled into my site and enjoyed what was close - The McDade Rec Path and the river. The McDade Rec Path goes about 25 miles through the whole recreation area so it seemed like it would be a good way to get around.  I'd asked the guy in the campground office which way on the path I should go and he said "south". First I rode around the campground to get a feel for the place, then I headed out going south.  First of all the trail is crushed gravel and a bit rougher than I like, it's not as rough as some and my nifty new tires were helpful. 2nd this section of the trail skirted corn fields and was very exposed and hot.  I wasn't into it. So I turned around and went north.  This section was much better! It was all wooded and shady! There were several big, steep hills, even a switchback! Not sure I've ever ridden my bike on a switchback! I did get off and walk in a few places.  It was very hot so I didn't go too far, maybe about 5 miles total.  

When I got back to the van it was still early so I rode my bike to the river in the campground, thinking I'd yo for a swim.  The river isn't deep enough for swimming, only about calf deep! So I wadded a bit, being so shallow the water was very warm, but it was very nice down there!  

Back at the campsite I spent the rest of the evening reading, blogging and taking a walk in the campground.  

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