Delaware Stretch-from Lightning Jack’s to the ball field in Trenton

the only boat traffic I saw
the only boat traffic I saw

Yesterday’s logistical challenges regarding especially kid care proved to be too overwhelming for me to make a go of the long leg along the Delaware and Raritan Canal. So I sat out and will do the short leg from Blackwells Mills to Paddlesport today-ha, as soon as I get out the door!! (it’s 9:16am as I’m typing this)

It will be a slow slog, and hopefully it really WILL stop raining at 2p like the Weather Channel says it will. Too bad it’s not going to be as warm as yesterday was. Oh well, it’s a work out and at least if I’m gonna go hang out all stinky at a booth it’s a paddle event and paddlers can handle a little stink. I will bring a change of clothes, of course! Well, at least I hope I can cram them in my little bag.

Oh blast-just realized i forgot to charge the GoPro! Yikes. The battery in that doesn’t seem to last as long in the cold.

Anyway-I had a seriously late start on Wednesday leaving from Lightning Jack’s Marina in Riverside. I was a bit stiff from my sudden plunge into the day before’s 20 mile paddle from basically no to little training prior, but that quickly wore away. However, despite the current, I was still slow. The Delaware river run was in eventful but pleasant. Flat and rather easy. Just. Slow.

It always amazes me what industry is along the river, especially on the PA side, and further up there’s what I’m guessing is a dump -right along the river-Pennsy side-at the first big bend to the East above Burlington. The Delaware River is the recharge for our coastal aquifer in NJ, so NJ folks would also do well to pay attention to what is going on there on the other side of the water.

One of the things that first propelled me into activism was a conference lecture I attended titled “unregulated compounds in water.” The USGS has been following this for over 13 years. We have a growing class of chemicals-man-made compounds, which are not regulated, and of which little is known, that are appearing in our water-ouur DRINKING water. Industry claims these are “proprietary knowledge” and does not disclose what they are-or if they are harmful or how harmful if they are. And there is definitely cause for concern as many of these compounds are carcinogenic. And they are appearing in our water-albeit 13 years ago it was trace amounts, but with increased use and over time, it makes sense that these would reach “tipping point” at some point in the future. Eventually these won’t be just “trace amounts.”

the only boat traffic I saw
the only boat traffic I saw

Unregulated industry isn’t the only thing harming the Delaware River-it’s us, too, any of us really, that eat, drink, pee, and poo. Sure, septic tanks and sewer plants are supposed to filter out the bad, but as of right now they don’t do such a hot job filtering out a variety of contaminants that get dumped (in a variety of ways…!) into the toilet. The USGS did a pilot study  and looked at different common contaminants that enter the waterways via sewer plants. Add the issue of combined storm sewers and we have a real, sorry, shit storm ever time it floods! 

So as I paddled along the not always clean looking or clean smelling Delaware River up by Burlington and beyond, I wondered about that. How much more can this poor river take? And of course the industry only intensifies as do the number of sewer plants dumping into the Delaware and its tributaries. The poor Delaware River! Well, at least we have water warrior Maya Van Rossum and her hearty crew at Delaware Riverkeeper fighting the good fight for all of us!

Musings and casual paddling ended abruptly when the river curved to the East. Slammed with wind, I found the area of maximum current to help me along. This was easy-it’s where the tide pushed hard into the opposing wind and chopped up the water. You might think that choppy water on a board would not be a good thing but it was! I was on my Starboard 14’8″ which is an awesome downwind ocean board, kinda a slog in the flat upwind stuff, but stable enough that eventually your feet will fall asleep if you don’t move them enough. The chop definitely provided needed relief for me feet. Yay for the workout, yay for the feet!

flock of sea gulls on the Delaware
flock of sea gulls on the Delaware

When I got to the Jersey side and out of the wind, I spooked an enormous flock of seagulls. I don’t think any pooped on me… Not that it would have mattered-intermittent rain would wash anything off.

It is always surprising to me that so many times I’m on the water I’m the only one. Granted, it’s a work day, but still, you’d think that with the density of population there might be one other person out there. I did see a cop strolling her police dog in Burlington by the rowing club. But she was on land, of course.

Up until that point I had been a little hungry, but after a nice chat with the officer I felt more energized-got my second wind-and plugged on.

Once again Rancocas aficionado, John Anderson was waiting-poor guy-I’ve been making him wait and wait at these stops-for me. It doesn’t take long to get chilled once you stop moving. A warmed up truck is heaven on a damp day!

It was a fairly uneventful paddle-today should be more of the same-well, maybe I should try to take that long fin off. Nah, that just makes it more interesting-and comical. But definitely I’m going to grab my waterproof hat! Eh, maybe I’ll look at that fin….

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