Over the last few weekends, Mrs. P and I have continued our excursions along the Delaware Canal and have now covered nearly a quarter of its length (twice, since each trip is up and back to wherever we’ve parked). (My first post on the Canal, from mid-March, is here.)
We’ve been noting how the canal changes character as we move along it, the steep drop from the towpath to the river north of the second, more northern, Washington Crossing State Park; the towpath significantly narrowing as we came into and walked through the river town of New Hope; the disappearance of water in that town; the short sections where, surprisingly, cars are allowed on the towpath; the water’s reappearance farther north,; the answer to the mystery of what happened to the canal ride barges; different sights along the river; and the different ways homeowners on the berm bank have planted their gardens—and portions of the canal.
South of Washington Crossing, we came across one of the old locks, which suggests how narrow the canalboats were.
Between Washington Crossing and New Hope, the towpath seems to tower over the steep bank leading to the river below.
While the canal is full of water south of New Hope,
that water disappears in the town and for a couple of miles to the north. We were surprised, as we remembered a couple of times taking one of the mule-barge canal excursions that used to run out of New Hope along to the canal to the north. But no barge could get through this dry canal bed choked with the remains of last year’s bullrushes.
Even more surprising, though, was seeing a car on the canal. There is a cluster of homes between the canal and the river that rely on the towpath to move between them and the roads.
Well north of New Hope, thicker woods west of the canal allow moisture to collect and pool, and the canal has water again—though not as deep as farther south. (The current storm passing through the area is likely to change that.)
In Center Bridge, we found those excursion barges we’d ridden years ago. Like photos of ships abandoned on the former shores of the drying, shrinking Aral Sea, they are immobile, useless with naught but land beneath them.
From time to time we looked east to the river. This first view is what appears to be an old mill over in New Jersey. The second is what looks like a wooden version of the Headless Horseman. The third is not suddenly nearer New Jersey but Hendrick’s Island, which fills much of the river in this section.
Some parts of the canal have homes on the western, berm, bank. There are quaint little country houses, Italianate palazzo, traditional Delaware Valley stone farmhouses, and modern adaptations of the traditional look. There are even cleverly built treehouses—and birdhouses.
Homeowners have given themselves gardens both park-like and formal. North of New Hope, ferns become a popular planting.
Several homeowners plant flowers along the towpath or the river so that, when they look out their back windows or sit on their patios, they can see bright, cheery faces and the river beyond. In one section, the towpath was flanked by two carpets of blue.
We have also seen subtle changes in foliage as the Delaware Valley has settled more fully and comfortably into spring, early daffodils giving way to bluebells and lilacs and wisteria; early violet gems now being joined by May apples and other, unknown, wildflowers.
Even the humble dandelion becomes beautiful in its spheroid perfection, if you give it a chance.
We’ve seen a few creatures, or seen their footprints—and heard but not photographed hundreds of tuneful songbirds.
And always, always, our eyes are drawn to the trees. But, you know, that will have to be another post.
Words and pictures © 2012 AtHome Pilgrim.
All Rights Reserved.