My history with the Delaware Water Gap began as a child, growing up in central New Jersey. It was the first major hike that I completed and I've always had a fondness for the area.
I've hiked the DWG a handful of times since then; always on the NJ (Mount Tammany) side.
This was my first time hiking the PA (Mount Minsi side). For years I thought it was just an out and back while there's a nice loop on Mount Tammany. As I read up on it and got a good map from the New Jersey Trail Conference, I saw there is a fire road (along with some side trails) that enable a nice loop.
We started out on a sunny, but chilly morning at the Lake Lenape trailhead. I was thankful that I had prepped our water and coffee the night before as the water supply froze in the little cabin we were staying in the night before.
Sparkle and I took a bit of time getting her pack adjusted just right, but before long, we were on our way, following the familiar white blazes of the Appalachian trail.
It's been years since I've been up Tammany, but the views going up Minsi struck me as more numerous and the trail a little less strenuous.
Other than a stream crossing and a spot or two of scrambling, the hike isn't that difficult. Of course, as I've aged, my knees didn't quite enjoy the steepest spots at once, but it wasn't that bad and the time with Sparkle and the views made it worth it.
Sparkle was a confident hiker for the most part, but she let me lead on the stream crossing.
It was the first time that I could not find the summit marker upon reaching the top of a mountain, but according to my altimeter, we did make it.
The trail widens past an antenna and structure and we could have gone many miles (to Georgia, in fact), but we had to get to Stamford by afternoon, so after a mile or so further, we headed back.
On the way back we took a left from a split in the trail and went down the fire road that runs more or less parallel to the AT. It is an easier grade, but you miss out on some views. Right before we got back the trailhead, we took a left at a side trail that leads to Table Rock and past that to a steep descent to the far side of Lake Lenape before taking you back to the parking lot for the trailhead.
We hiked about 6 miles that morning. It was a nice break from the 550 miles of driving we had done the day before. Up to this point, I think my training has been paying off. Sparkle was the most relaxed she's been on a long car ride. She did well in the cabin and on the trails. The pack fit Sparkle well and she didn't seem to mind carrying it. She didn't chafe and her paws held out, even though it was pretty rocky. We didn't see any people or any dogs the entire 3 hours on the trail, so we really felt like we had what I understand to be a busy trail to ourselves.
I feel like I achieved my goal of seeing where we were with taking a long road trip, how she'll settle down for the night in a strange place, how she'll handle the pack, and how she'll hold up on the trail. Feeling good about tackling the CL50 in just a few short weeks. Here's a video compilation of the trip. Enjoy!