Mid-May visit to Delaware Water Gap

Friday, May 15th, 2009

The Delaware Water Gap is such a busy destination in the summer months, it's good to find an off-season time to visit. We decided on mid-May, which turned out to be a good choice. We left the Monday following Mother's Day for Worthington State Forest in New Jersey where we would pick up the Appalachian Trail near Dunnfield Creek. We've never seen so many blueberry bushes as we did after leaving the creek trail and ascending the mountains. On the trail we met a group of students from Moravian College, hiking to celebrate the end of the spring semester. We made camp the first night in the woods on the southern slope of Mt. Mohickon. We later learned that another couple had set up camp on the rocky crest,  when they came to warn us that they had a visit from a large black bear. Fortunately we were not bothered during the night.

Fran got to try out the new little alcohol stove and was able to fry up some fresh bread. To make using the stove practical, we need to fashion a windbreak and bring something to aid in filling the stove.

The next morning we hiked to the northern border of the state forest before turning and heading back. Having hugged the boulder-strewn west bank of Sunfish Pond (where Justice William Douglas famously hiked in 1967), we took a different trail along the east bank on the return. It was gently hilly and offered some beautiful vistas.

We spent the final night at the group campground at a backpacking site south of the pond. The site was large and we imagine it must be very busy at the height of the season. As it was, we had just one distant neighbor. Most notable about the site was the bear-proofing. There were several large communal bear vaults, and one tree that could be used for hanging a bear bag, was clad in metal. It was a little unnerving to see huge, claw-shaped gashes in the metal. We opted for the big vaults and were happy for it.

The next morning we had a quick hike back to the parking lot, which gave us time for some sight-seeing on the homeward drive. We heading north along Old Mine Road and then crossed the Delaware on the two-lane Dingman's Bridge where a toll collector on the Pennsylvania side, straddling the yellow line, collected tolls from cars in both direction. Quaint. We stopped for a short hike to Silverthread and Dingman's Falls where the purple trillium were in bloom. It was a lovely, peaceful spot to conclude our first backpacking trip of the year.

See photos.