Kayaking on the Hudson

Friday, February 8, 2013

Erie Canal - Little Falls to St. Johnsville

View of Little Falls
July 4, 2012.  On our second day of this year’s Erie Canal trip, a few of us walked into St. Johnsville to have breakfast at Grandma’s luncheonette.  I ordered the pancakes and received two pancakes that were as big as hubcaps and a good three inches thick as well.  After gorging on Grandma’s delicious homemade fare, we returned to Little Falls to launch for the day.   
Little Falls

When we arrived, the “kayak motel” was open and our kayaks were waiting for us.  I climbed up into the converted train station—now a storage facility—and began the work of hauling the kayaks to the launch.  As I grabbed the first kayak, I turned to see two strangers standing at the door of the storage room.  Without any hesitation or even introductions, one of them said to me “How can we help?”  They immediately grabbed the kayak from me and began hauling it to the launch.  There were others helping too--the harbormaster, local volunteers, and seemingly anyone else who just happened to be there.  The hospitality of this town was incredible. 

Little Falls - Our new "Favorite" town along the Canal
When most of the kayaks were in the water, Chris called me over and introduced me to Dave, the local high-school technology teacher.  His students had built a “jet-powered” kayak which we had seen in the storage shed.  Dave was also up on the local history and geology and he had offered to paddle with us for a while and give us a guided tour.  He didn’t demo the jet kayak, but he did give us a local perspective on some of the sites and he gave us the low-down on Lock 17.
Lock 17 is a 40 ft. drop and has the only "Guillotine" style door

Lock 17 is the single largest lock on the Erie Canal with a drop of 40 feet.  It is the only lock on the canal that uses a guillotine door and when it was built, it was the largest lock in the world.
Leaving Lock 17

We were also introduced to crew of the Urger, a 111 year-old tug boat that the Canal Corp. operates as a floating museum.  The Urger was heading out toward Albany and then down to New York City to give tours of the tug.  Captain Wendy wanted to make sure she knew where we would be so the tug didn’t throw off too much wake for us when they passed by.  (Yes, the people up here are actually that nice.)
The Urger- We would see her again the next day.

After a great morning of paddling, we stopped at the Herkimer homestead to east lunch and get some shade.  The day was very hot, and very humid.  After passing through Lock 16, we were just about done for the day.   
When we arrived at St. Johnsville, we were exhausted from the heat.  Lucky for us, the Parkside drive-in was only a short distance from our campground.  We sampled some delicious home-made ice cream and decided that we would go back to the Parkside for more ice cream every day—which we did.