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A news magazine about the Delaware River and the people who use it.

Yes, actually, it was wet enough for me, thanks!

Before I drove up to Hancock, N.Y., on Friday, I checked the weather.

I was going to be on the river and the elements are, shall we say, significant.

This short float on the river on April 27 was the capstone of an Upper Delaware River Summit, hosted by the Friends of the Upper Delaware (Jeff Skelding) and the National Wildlife Federation (Halle Van der Gaag).

There was a light drizzle in the forecast, so I donned jeans, waterproof boots, a rain jacket, baseball cap and an umbrella. Such an amateur.

By the time I was a half hour from my destination, the rain had decided to get a bit more serious and I was having some doubts about my apparel.

This is what Halle Van der Gaag had written the day before, I believe her intent was to reassure us:

I know the weather is a little iffy for tomorrow, but we are moving ahead as planned unless the conditions are DIRE (my caps). Happily it seems as if there will be little wind (that turned out to be true) and not overly cold. (That would depend on personal definitions -- but this has been a very LONG winter and even the forsythia are shy so far.)

Please be prepared with a good rain coat and an umbrella, the river is beautiful in all kinds of weather. (That is certainly true!)

The first part of the day was held in Fireman's Park in Hancock, where about 50 people gathered for the summit in one of those open-sided pavilions (great for summer parties.) The rain continued, getting puddly on the grassy lawn.

Here's Halle (with the clipboard and headset) as we gather for the summit.

The theme of the summit was to highlight and encourage the cooperation that has started among conservation and tourism leaders, and New York and Pennsylvania officials. There's a new hashtag that many concerned about the Delaware are starting to use: #4theDelaware. 

4 the Delaware implies not just that someone is for the Delaware, but it's a rallying cry for the four states that border the Delaware to take care of this river. Often, other waterways seem to have a louder voice in each of the states, and no one state has all the cards in this important game.  It's also true that cooperation -- and agreement -- is needed among those four states to do anything really positive.

Here are the Tweets I sent out as each speaker did his/her turn at the mike.

Then, it was time to meet our caretakers -- I should say that many of the people on the river probably didn't need a caretaker, I sure as hell did!

I've been on this river before, but never in a small craft. Previous experiences of small craft have made me nervous -- also, I can't swim.

Anyway, we were introduced to our guide, Matt Ippoliti, and my confidence soared.

He took one look at me and suggested, um, told me that I needed more waterproofing, and he had just the thing: waterproof footless waders (remember I had those waterproof boots) and then a rain jacket over the top. Quite the fashion plate I was!

We gathered up our other boat mate, Grant LaRouche, from the National Wildlife Federation, who modestly declared he was a novice angler, though likely less in need of a minder than I was.

As we were walking across the wet grass, my waterproof boot sprang a significant leak -- the sole parted from the boot, and waterproofedness was gone from that foot. 

Here are the boots:

IMG_3117

But never mind, it wasn't that cold, and the river beckoned.

This was my first time on a drift boat, and it, too, inspires confidence. It's built for one person (the guide) to be able to hold the boat still as the angler(s) fly fish in the river, casting, and reeling in.

Ippoliti talked as we drifted, the river doing much of the work as the waters were high. It seems that the Delaware is a tough river to successfully trout fish in, there aren't an abundance of trout here, and the ones that are, says Ippoliti, are wise to anglers. "They know our flies, our boats, even our shadows on the water."

For us, no fishing was planned so there was no frustration. 

It was, indeed, wet. The rain was coming down hard. I didn't take as many photos as I usually do, (rain) but there was one I especially wanted: the place where the East and West Branches of the Delaware meet, and the Delaware is "born" so to speak, beginning its 330-mile journey to the sea.

And here it is:

IMG_3016

Not terribly spectacular, I know. But the experience of being on the water was indeed, quite wonderful, even though none of these photos quite capture its grandeur.

The rain kept falling, and the mists wrapped around the hills. Somehow, getting this close to the river when the weather is dark and sort of gloomy was much more rewarding, as if we were witness to the river's elemental nature.

Cold and wet as I was by the end, I was feeling lucky to have spent time on the river, and grateful to all the people who gave me my short time afloat.

Oh, wait one more photo that you must see, especially if you know Laurie Ramie, the executive director of the Upper Delaware Council, who is always the calm amid the storm.

IMG_3041

For more information on fishing guides -- who not only man the boat, but provide guidance on where the fish might be biting and what bait or fly is best -- check out:

https://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/30969.html

About Meg McGuire

Meg McGuire has been a journalist for 30 years in New York and Connecticut. She started in weekly newspapers and moved to full-time work in dailies 25 years ago. She knows about the tectonic changes in journalism firsthand, having been part of what was euphemistically called a "reduction in force" six years ago. Now she's working to find new ways to "do" the news as an independent online publisher of news about the Delaware River, its watershed and its people.

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