The 19th annual Delaware River Sojourn, which concludes Saturday June 29, has had over 200 adventure seekers participating through the week, scoring the swift waters from Ten Mile River all the way to the waters near Philadelphia.
Along the trip, the groups stopped at different destinations that included a night at the Zane Grey Museum in Lackawaxen, a night at Dingmans Campground in Dingmans Ferry and a final night in the Seaport Museum, by Ben Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia. Every day, the kayakers paddled between six to 11 miles, with the intent of giving everyone, "a little flavor, a little face of the Delaware" explained Kate Schmidt, a member of the 2013 Delaware River Sojourn Steering Committee.
Richard Egan, the chairman of the committee, said the trip is meant to draw attention to the Delaware River and show people what a "wonderful resource it is and why it's worth protecting and spending effort to keep it as good as it is right now."
A founding member of the Sojourn, Richard McNutt said every year the number of participants has grown, and this year was the best yet. The first day had such a large turnout that the livery company had to rent a truck to get more kayaks. McNutt said an important reason for the trip is that it's meant to get people on the water and eventually, he said, there are plans to develop "Circles of History." He explained that because of the history surrounding the river, and that, "we have the best of the best," it's important to educate people about the natural resource and keep it clean. He added that, "we want people who live here, to love it."
To ensure safety, members of the Canoe Safety Patrol paddled along, having fun too as they made sure everything went well. In the Sojourn's 19 years existence, Schmidt said there haven't been any serious injuries.
Each day, to recognize someone who has made a positive difference for the environment or region, a person was named Admiral of the Day. Tradition has it, that when rafters used to pass by an area on the Upper Delaware, they would stop and salute an admiral and to honor him, the travelers would give him a bottle of whiskey. To follow through with the recognition, members of the Sojourn salute their own admiral and give the person a hat and plaque. Tuesday, Lori McKean, the Volunteer Coordinator at Grey Towers was named an admiral. She said it was an honor. For the last 15 years, McKean has worked to help educate people about the Delaware River and the habitat for the eagles, as well as her work with the forest service and Grey Towers.
Kayakers were provided by North East Wilderness Experience located in Honesdale and Hawley. A smaller livery, Schmidt said they were a great company to work with as they have provided the kayaks for several years.
Page 2 of 2 - The food, McNutt said, was the best of any Sojourn so far, because it was like eating meals from a restaurant. Konrad's Kitchen and Grill out of Yulan, New York, catered every day, but the last.
About 20 people paddled the entire trip, including paddlers as young as 14. Kahmere Casey, from Philadelphia is 16 and he participated in his fourth trip this year. Casey said he took the trip because he wanted to paddle and have fun. Two years ago, Casey was named a lower high admiral.
Traveling from Tennessee, Lorraine Martinez participated in her 10th Sojourn this year, with her godson Taylor Butkewich who is 14. Martinez said the water, the greenery and the Sojourn is what brings her to the region.
Since the beginning, John Mauser has participated in the Sojourn. This year, Mauser was a member of the land crew, ensuring meals were delivered along the way and everything else was running smootly. He said he has participated through the years because it's fun.
Herb Meyerson, said participating in the Sojourn is something people have to experience. Describing the trip, he said isn't really explainable because people need to experience it firsthand. He added that, "if you get in the river, the river gets into you and you'll have an appreciation for it."
For more information about the Sojourn visit www.delawareriversojourn.org.