By Carrie Scheick, Teen Naturalist Leader/Teacher Naturalist
What better view is there than a beautiful river stretched out in front of you from the seat of a canoe? This is what the Teen Naturalists got to enjoy for a full week this August.
Every summer the Delaware Nature Society’s Teen Naturalists gear up for a weeklong adventure. This year, the teens and leaders (“Canoe Man Dan” Kenney, Hannah Greenberg, and myself) headed up to northeastern Pennsylvania to paddle through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. This section of the Delaware River is generally slow and calm, with a few areas rated up to Class I rapids. The Delaware River is classified as a Wild and Scenic river and it definitely measured up to that classification.
We put in at Milford Beach eagerly wanting to get on the water. We had nothing but smiles on our faces as we paddled the 2 miles to Namanock Island, our first destination to camp for the night.
After the initial check of the campsite, we started unloading gear and noticed a Black Bear on the opposite shore. This area is known for its sizable Black Bear population. We all were very excited for such a great wildlife sighting early in the trip. Cameras were out as we tried to capture the moment and observe this awesome animal. We were even more excited when the bear got into the water and was swimming around…until we realized he was swimming right towards us.
We quickly moved as far up shore of his projected landing site as we could. We blew our whistles, thinking we would scare the bear because Black Bears usually spook easily. We successfully managed to scare this bear, but not to the point where he turned around to swim away from us, but to the point where he swam more frantically towards the island. We watched the bear scramble out of the water less than 100 feet from where we were standing and run up into our campsite and take off down the island. We ceased blowing our whistles and went to check the campsite for evidence of bears such as claw marks on trees or scat. We didn’t see any evidence, and decided to camp at this site despite the bear. Thankfully, we didn’t have any other bear encounters that evening.
On Tuesday we paddled 12 miles from Namanock Island to Tom’s Creek. According to Hannah, we had a “peaceful, leisurely paddle on a beautiful river”. Some of us had a more leisurely paddle than others…
We spent the afternoon fishing and hanging out by the river, enjoying the time we had together in the wilderness.
We paddled another 12 miles on Wednesday from Tom’s Creek to Tock’s Island . This day on the water was characterized by a lot of singing, and we paddled through the Walpack Bend, one of the prettiest stretches of the Delaware River. We took a break from paddling and got to (safely) goof around jumping off a large rock on the bank of the river. Check out these fun pictures!
We mixed it up on Thursday and went for a hike in Worthington State Forest, NJ. We hiked a small portion of the Appalachian Trail to Sunfish Pond, a glacial lake that sits on top of the ridge overlooking the water gap.
Highlights from the hike included picking and eating blueberries along the trail, exploring the pond bank and building rock sculptures, and seeing wildlife such as Northern Water Snakes, Red Efts, and the largest Bullfrog I’ve ever seen!
It stormed Thursday night, so we had the delight of packing up muddy, soggy gear the next morning. Despite the torrential downpour as we paddled to our take out at Kittatinny Point Access, our spirits remained high and the rain surprisingly subsided by the time we reached our take out. We loaded the canoes and gear and eagerly changed into dry clothes. We continued the Teen Naturalist tradition of eating at Five Guys on our way home. It was there we parted ways with Canoe Man Dan and the Water Gap, promising them both we would return soon for another great adventure.
If you know someone who is 13 to 17 years old who would likes to study nature, be adventuring outside, and might like a trip such as this, tell them about the Delaware Nature Society’s Teen Naturalist group. Find information here about registering for the 2013-2014 season.
Link “here” to: http://www.delawarenaturesociety.org/seasonal_progs.html