The Delaware Water Gap (DWG) has always been an area I've considered part of my homeland since I first started coming here with my Father some 50 years ago. Soon after I received my driver's license this was the one place that was on my list to explore. Recently, I walked back to the point of my first aborted hiking trip. There are just a few terminated hikes that I can think of and most of them were in the west where a trip into the backcountry when a snowstorm might strand you for weeks or for the whole winter. This abortion was while I was on my first long Appalachian hike. That was back in 74 during the Tock's Island days of the DWP's tumultuous beginning soon after the Feds condemned hundreds if not over a thousand homes and a few farms though eminent domain to make way for the damning of the longest and last undamned river east of the Mississippi.
Today, one could never know how developed with homes the DWP was back then. While on this recent hike it was totally obscured of it past development history. I can remember that aborted hike day long ago quite well. A friend and I were a week and one hundred miles into a hike on the Appalachian Trail. A hike that began at Bear Mountain near the Hudson River. My dad had dropped us off on a comfortable late spring day with clear skies. We made it through the Highlands of Harriman State Park of NY and Waywayanda State Park of NJ then across the great valley of the Wallkill River with it's permeated smell of onion fields.
Everything was going fine until we got on the great ridge of Kittatinny Mountain. Then the rains came and it rained for days and we were soaked- Gore Tex was in it's infancy and they had not learned to tape the seams! So cold were the nights that we could not dry out our clothing even with a good fire. The next morning, we once again woke to freezing rain then marched through it. Later that day, sick of the constant downfall, we came to the area around Crater Lake in DWP and found a very enticing condemned A-Frame home to spend the night. A much better choice then sleeping in our soggy wet tent. There was no heat but it was dry. Again the next day we woke to rain and ice. We decided it wasn't fun hiking in a near hypothermic state. Now 35 years later, as we walked the roads and driveways removed of its asphalt except for a few pieces here and there, we could not even find the smallest remnant of foundations of that A-Frame or of the many other homes in this past development estate. The wilderness has returned to Delaware Water Gap.