Tuesday, September 1, 2015

50th Anniversary of Delaware Watergap National Recreation Area

Today marks the 50th Anniversary of the Delaware Watergap National Recreation Area. Seventy thousand acres of forest, mountain faces, floodplains, streams and elevated fields related to 40 miles of Delaware River flow has accommodated millions of visitors through the years. One way of getting there is by Interstate 80, a direct link to Metropolitan New York, from where many came during the late 19th century.

Some things never change; they just acquire a facelift, but the wilds of the Watergap retain a deeply remote value that resists the strains of civilization and should always remain protected.

I've floated the Delaware through various park stretches, once paddling a canoe with a friend 40 miles from above the park deep down into it. But most of all, I value the Dunnfield Creek for the pristine, springfed water. The native brook trout, too. But without that aquamarine clarity, they wouldn't thrive as they do. I once confessed to a NJ Audubon naturalist that every time I visit Dunnfield, I put my opened lips to the surface and drink. He implored of me never to do it again. I could get an amoeba.

The water is not really safe to drink for at least that reason. But I've never got sick and I value this bond with a New Jersey creek enough to risk my life again, I suppose.

I've backpacked the Appalachian Trail along Dunnfield and up to pass Sunfish Pond, worked my way back to camp in the designated area, tidy and neat, building a nice cooking fire. Have done this a number of times and the opportunity remains.

And there's Mount Tammany. I have better photo prints I haven't time to fetch and scan. How many times I've hiked the summit, I can't recall at present, but the most direct trail is the steepest I know of in New Jersey, and the views from the top magnificent.

If you want remote fly fishing, go to the Big Flatbrook way up in the northern reaches of the park. And visit the abandoned but preserved town of Wallpack. Millbrook Village further south on Mine Road, when the volunteers are present to offer presentations, is enough to draw you right out of contemporary times and link you with larger, not lesser, humanity.

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