Kayaking on the Hudson

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Hudson Valley Resource Guide

By request, I am adding a Hudson Valley Resource Guide to the site.  You can find it on the tabs at the top of the page.  Apologies to those of you who aren't in the Hudson Valley, but if you come visit, I will be glad to take you out paddling.

See you on the water,

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Erie Canal - Canajoharie to Fonda

Canajoharie to Fonda

A few months before the trip, I received a panicked email from two of the paddlers.  It seemed they had decided to scout our route and were in Fonda where they could find nowhere to access the canal and launch or land a kayak.  “We’ll figure something out.”  was my response.

Now it was the day before we were supposed to land in Fonda or Fultonville (which is just across the canal from Fonda), and we still had nowhere to land.  My wife and I decided to take a drive over to Fonda and see for ourselves.  (Yes, we actually leave some of the scouting until the last minute.  It makes the trip more exciting.)  We headed over the bridge to Fultonville and noticed a Canal Corp. work yard that had excellent canal frontage.  As we were on the bridge, I noticed a point of land that jutted out into the canal.  We headed toward what I had glimpsed and discovered the point was behind a condemned hotel—one of many that had been flooded out—and despite the “keep out” signs, it was possible to drive right to the point which had a cement boat ramp!  Then we headed back over the bridge and stopped at the Canal Corp. work yard.  The folks working there were very helpful.  There was a small dirt launch spot under the bridge and we were welcomed to use it so long as we got there before the yard was locked for the day.  They even let us drive our cars on the lawn to get to it.

We got back to camp in St. Johnsville and informed out “scouts” that we had found not one, but two launches in about 45 minutes, after which they resigned as scouts.  It hadn’t occurred to them to check for a boat launch behind the condemned hotel.  (And they call themselves kayakers).  This episode highlighted the fact that there are still many sections of the canal that are tough to access.  Ask the locals, and you’ll usually find someplace.
View from a hilltop above Canajoharie
July 6, 2012.  The paddle from Canajoharie to Fonda was peaceful, and scenic.  The hills surrounding the canal grew a bit larger and closer which gave the canal a more rustic feel in this section.  We “locked through” at lock 13 and arrived at the Canal Corp. yard well before they locked the gates.  Of course, we stopped at the Parkside, in St. Johnsville, for ice cream--again.

Erie Canal: St. Johnsville to Canajoharie

St. Johnsville to Canajoharie
Kayaking at Lock 15 on the Erie Canal
July 5, 2012.  On the third day of our trip we launched right from our campground.   The paddle to Canajoharie included locks 15 and 14.  I know I’ve said it before, but “locking through” never gets old.  It continues to be one of the most interesting components of our Erie Canal trips and it is the part that most of the paddlers get excited about.  It truly separates canal paddling from other destinations.  

Keeping cool - Note the soccer & basketball
After lock 15, we ran into a bit of snag when we tried to stop for lunch.  The only reliable navigation guide for the Erie Canal is the Cruising Guide to the New York State Canal System, which is published by the New York State Canal Corp. (The organization responsible for running the canal system).  Unfortunately, the Guide was last updated in 2006.  Take my word for it, a lot has changed on the in the past 6 years.  When we completed our 2011 trip, fully half of the put-ins did not exist just 4 years earlier.  In fact, the take out spot for this day wasn’t on the map.  We found it by visiting Canajoharie and snooping around.  On the map, there is a fishing access listed just after lock 15.  In reality, the fishing access—our lunch spot—was no longer there.  So we had to improvise and pull off under a highway overpass.  After lunch, we paddled another mile only to find the new and improved fishing access with a beautiful new ramp!  

Kayaking with my pumpkin on the Erie Canal
Around this time, we also found some entertainment floating in the canal.  We scooped up a soccer ball and a plastic pumpkin.  The soccer ball was used for a game of on-water polo, while the pumpkin made for a nice adornment to my kayak.  After a bit of splashing about, we arrived in Canajoharie at our newly found take out spot.  Then it was off to the Parkside for ice cream.
Canajoharie has a great pavilion for boaters