Earlier this month, approximately 115 paddlers pulled their kayaks and canoes out of the Schuylkill River at the Lock 60 Recreational Area in Mont Clair. Participating in the 23rd annual Schuylkill River Sojourn, the paddlers began the five-day guided journey from Jim Dietrich Park in Muhlenberg Township on Saturday, July 31, and will end at Boathouse Row in Philadelphia on Wednesday, August 4.
Hosted by the Schuylkill River Greenways, participants spend the day paddling the scenic river, stopping along the way for meals and educational programs. In the evening, many set up camp along the water or return home. This year’s theme, “Return to the River,” has paddlers learning about different aspects of the river and the wildlife within it. Sojourners also enjoy fun activities such as making s’mores over bonfires, a trivia game night, and live music.
Schuylkill River Greenways Executive Director Elaine Paul Schaefer is grateful to the Township for the use of the Lock 60 Recreational Area.
“We are thrilled to be here,” says Schaefer. “Lock 60 is the only operating lock remaining on the Schuylkill, and the sojourners love the experience of being here.”
Ines Espinosa of Audubon (at right with tent) and Riel Bilto of Chestnut Hill are first time sojourners. Espinosa began kayaking on a whim with friends three months ago, while Bilto has been paddling for two years. Traveling alone, both women felt welcomed and comfortable with their fellow paddlers.
“The lock is one of my favorite places,” Espinosa says. “With an almost grown son, I decided this event would be a good adventure for me … I am so happy I am here.” “This event is my first with the paddling community,” Bilto says. “It is a fun group … my kind of people. I love adventure and this event is definitely that!”
Eric Brenner (at right with paddle) traveled from Silver Springs, MD to participate in this year’s event. Originally from Philadelphia, this is Brenner’s second year paddling. Not a serious kayaker, he enjoys looking at the area from the water and the educational sessions.
Usually held in June, this year’s later start meant that families could participate without worrying about conflicts with school. Bob Barsotti, Christina Kaba, and their sons, Ben and Jack, of Newtown Square have been kayaking as a family for five years. This is their first year doing the Schuylkill River Sojourner.
“I like it, though I am not as into it as the rest of my family,” admits 11-year old Ben, who paddled his first 14 mile day on Monday.
Ben’s 14-year old brother, Jack, was more enthusiastic, yet pretty tired after a full weekend on the river.
“We are thankful to the township for hosting us,” Kaba says. “We appreciate the safe place to camp and the helpful volunteers who make this crazy adventure possible.”
“The township is thrilled for the opportunity to host the Schuylkill River Sojourn,” says Township Manager Tim Tieperman. “The event is a wonderful way to connect residents and visitors to a great cause that supports the Schuylkill River and the Schuylkill River Trail, while highlighting the amazing recreational opportunities available within Upper Providence Township.”