Kayaking on the Hudson

Monday, January 21, 2013

Erie Canal 2012 Ilion to Little Falls

Erie Canal 2012 Trip Report
Ilion to Little Falls

The start of our 2012 Erie Canal Trip
July 3, 2012.  This was our fifth year kayaking the Erie Canal and we were worried that this section wouldn’t live up to the fun we had the last four years.  We had nothing to worry about.  Paddling on the Erie Canal is all about slowing down, and stepping back in time.  Our time-travel began when we started emailing a few of the towns to get more information.  Little Falls quickly became our new “favorite” town along the canal, but more about that later.
Kayaks launching in Ilion

Our group of 15 paddlers descended upon this 50 mile stretch of the canal and set up camp at the Marina in St. Johnsville.  Most of the group camped out in tents with four of us living the high-life in a 27’ camper and two others settling into a motel in Herkimer.  On our first day, we all met at the Marina in Ilion—just west of Herkimer.  The marina was a perfect launch spot.  It had a nice ramp, a dock and bathrooms! 

Passing through Herkimer
Our first day took us through Herkimer and Lock 18.  This part of the canal reminded us of the section east of Rochester.  The banks were woodsy and the canal resembles a lazy river.  What really sets this section of the canal apart are the towns.  To walk through one of these towns and meet the friendly folks who call them home is like stepping into a Norman Rockwell drawing.  
Lunch stop at the Herkimer House

Our Kayak Condo in Little Falls
My wife emailed the town clerk in Little Falls, Kira, to ask if there were any fireworks on or near July 4th.  Kira informed us that after the minor-league baseball game on July 3rd there would be fireworks.  She then procured 15 free tickets to the game and hand-delivered them to Chris, the harbormaster, so we wouldn’t have to go out of our way to get them.  Chris arranged for a special dinner at the local French restaurant, The Canal Side Inn—a 5pm seating so we could get to the game on time.  She then insisted that we store our kayaks in the town’s storage building at the marina.  As soon as we started hauling the kayaks to the shed, several locals appeared and helped carry them.  

The Herkimer Diamond Dogs playing in Little Falls
The folks in Little Falls were so helpful that we didn’t want to leave.  They said we could camp at the park and even offered to bring in gas grills for us to use.  But we were already set up in St. Johnsville, so we returned to our camp late that night having seen 7 innings of the longest baseball game ever played.  (We found out later that the game didn’t end until 11:30pm.  By that time, we were all fast asleep.  We never did see the fireworks and we still don’t know if the Diamond Dogs beat the Dutchmen.  The game was tied when we left.)  But no one really minded.  We had been treated to a slice of Americana and the warmth of the people we met more than out shined any fireworks that we would have seen.

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