06:00 Sheryl accompanied for breakfast over at the Macdonald's, just a short walk across the parking lot. We got there just as they opened. The morning was thick with fog, and we could barely see the road. I had pancakes and hash browns. Sheryl had her typical Egg McMuffin. After breakfast, we returned to the motel room. I packed up my bike, mercifully minus the camping gear.
|Sheryl bids me off at 07:00 on Day 4|
I set out on U.S. Hwy 4, south from the motel. The road was still fog bound, but the traffic was already heavy. There were lots of trucks. I was passing by widely spaced country houses.
The map showed U.S. Hwy 4 to be more or less flat, running just east of a major escarpment. The reality was a number of ups and downs, but nothing too serious. I never had to leave my cruising gear in front.
|Whitehall to Ft. Ann|
|Foggy beginning on Hwy 4 south of Whitehall|
07:25 I had made the Ft. Ann town line. The fog cleared and it became sunny. I came to a big hill, which would take me ten minutes to climb. There was a rock cut on both sides, with forest atop the ridges. As I inched my way up in my granny gear, I passed a patrolman giving people a ticket. He eyed me as I passed, wondering if I was minding my own business, and said, "Have a nice day" as I rode by.
|Champlain Canal: Whitehall to Saratoga|
At 08:00 I got to Ft. Ann centre. I noted, for Sheryl, that there were two antique stores at the town's one corner. Earlier, I had been able to see my breath. It could not have been because of the temperature, so it must have been on account of the high humidity. A plaque indicated that Ft. Ann had been "One of five forts along the Route to the Hudson in the 1690's
A sign indicated that Hudson Falls was 9 miles away.
I stopped for a water break, and then took the time to put on some bain soleil (sun tan lotion), as the sun was feeling strong. It was the first time in three days that I had needed to put on the lotion. That done, I decided to go into the gas stations depanneur (convenience store) and see if I could get a more detailed map. I found a very useful map: The Jamasco map of the Greater Capital Region.
I was on my way by 08:10. At 08:20 I was at the Kingsbury line. I was riding over rolling farmland, and was leaving the hills behind, as they faded to the north I could still see purple mountains off in every directions, but closer the forest had given way to open farmland. The road rose up and down over gentle hills.
I was at the centre of Kingsbury by 08:40. At 09:00 Hwy 32 coming from Lake George joined the highway. A lot of the traffic headed off on Hwy 32, probably towards I-87.
I was at the centre, town square and park, of Hudson Falls by 09:15. I turned on my phone and called Sheryl back at the motel. After the call, I took a ten minute break in the town park.
I stopped by the post office and sent a post card off to City Cycle, the bike shop which had prepared my bicycle for the trip. While there, I asked the postmaster if there were, indeed, any 'falls' at Hudson Falls. He directed me to the road down the hill, and then told me about a foot path I could use to avoid having to climb back up the hill upon returning.
|Hudson Falls - NY: Town Square at 09:20|
So, from 09:20 to 09:50 I set out on a lookabout. At the town square, the main road turned south (left) along the edge of the Hudson Gorge towards Ft. Miller. I followed a road which descended the hill, down towards the river. I rode across the Hudson River on a new bridge, past an industrial park. Just below the new bridge was a much older one, now closed off. At the far side of the river was a park. I could see, then, what had become of the "falls" at Hudson Falls. The concrete of a dam was laid right across the river bed, right on top of the rocks which must have been under the falls in days gone by. The dam complex was quite old. Clearly there had been no "falls" in Hudson Falls for a long time. I spend some time exploring the dam, and taking some pictures. I felt good that I had made milestone two of my trip. I had reached the Hudson River.
|The Falls' at Hudson Falls: Looking south from bridge|
|Looking back on the old and new bridges||My Bike: Less the camping gear|
|The Dam at Hudson Falls|
|Looking south along the Hudson River from the dam|
After my sojourn, I rode back across the bridge. There was a short false start, but I finally found the footpath the postmaster had mentioned. I got off my bike and pushed it up the steep hill, along the foot-wide path. Within fifty feet I had regained the main road.
|Champlain Canal: The End as it reaches the Hudson|
I crossed the Champlain Canal, just upstream of its last lock before joining the Hudson. This was at 10:10.
|View on Hudson River: Looking south below Hudson Falls|
As I rode south from Ft. Edward, I noted how quiet U.S. Hwy 4 had become, and what bad shape it was in. Most of the southbound traffic had gone along State Hwy 32, which was on the other side of the river. I was riding on the east side. Although I was alongside the Hudson River, it was hard to actually see the river for all the trees. The countryside became ever more empty of houses and forested with low, scrubby trees.
|View on Hudson River: Looking north below Hudson Falls|
|Day 4: Whitehall to Saratoga|
At 10:50 I came to a point where I could hear the sound of rapids on the Hudson. I could not see them, as they were on the far side of a narrow spit of land that formed the entrance to a boat canal. There was a gate, of sorts, that could be used to close off the canal entrance. If it had not been for the two men who were working there, I might have been tempted to ignore the "Keep Off" sign and climb over to the other side for a photo.
I rode on a half mile or so down the totally deserted road before, at 11:00, coming to an old, 1907 steel, one-laned bridge, which crossed the canal. I rode across to the island formed between the canal and rapids. The island was long and narrow, only a few hundred feet wide. After passing a farm, I came to a gravel road that ran along the river. I turned south and continued along the river, past occasional large houses on my left. It became clear that this area once had been a large town. I passed, for example, a very large, old cemetary. The few houses were all that was left of the old town of Ft. Miller. At the bottom of the island, I had a great view down the Hudson, which was held back by a low dam.
My ten minute detour along Ft. Miller Island ended at another old, steel bridge, analogous to the first. I stopped on the bridge and took photos up and down the canal. Looking south, one could see the locks, where the short canal rejoined the river. As I was manipulating my camera, my glasses fell out of my pocket and onto the steel bridge grating. Providence, only, prevented them from slipping right through and into oblivion.
|Bridge Close up|
|Tranquil Hwy 4 south of Hudson Falls|
|At Fort Miller|
Canal on Hudson: to avoid rapids
|Looking south on Hudson from Island at Ft. Miller|
|Canal Locks at Ft. Miller: Looking south from Bridge|
|Canal Locks Close up|
After crossing the bridge and rejoining U.S. 4, I rode a few hundred feet further south until I came to the locks. There I took a photo looking back north, up the canal, can catching a view of the old bridge I had been on.
|At the Locks: Looking north towards Bridge|
At 11:30, Hwy 4 crossed over to the west side of the Hudson, joining Hwy 32, which was in much better shape and much busier. At the crossing was another low dam, perhaps five feet high, stretching across the river. Somewhere must have been a lock for the boats.
Once onto U.S. 4 and State Hwy 32 together, I was back into a built up area, with homes stretching along on both side of the road.
At 11:40 I came to the Saratoga county line. All along the road were these historical plaques, announcing every troop movement and camp that had led up to the famous battle that occurred at Saratoga in 1777.
|Crossing the Hudson at Schuylerville: Looking south on dam|
|The Dam from the side|
I found the "50's Diner", a cute looking retro place, all done up in the style of that decade, with the classic formica counters with metal edges and round fountain stools. As it was 12:00, I tried to reach Sheryl. My cell had no service, so I tried the phone booth. Still no luck. She clearly was outside of a service area as well.
I had a strange sandwich called a "Buffalo chicken wrap", a sort of chicken sandwich wrapped in a soft tortilla. I drank a large coke and lots of water. I ended off my lunch with a piece of pecan pie and a coffee.
I was all done by 12:45 and ready to set out again. I rode the couple of blocks down the Main Street hill to the junction with Hwy 4 and turned right (south) to continue. It was only a couple of blocks to get out of the town proper.
Just as I was leaving town, I crossed over a bridge that was just downstream from a dam across a tributary feeding into the Hudson. Below the bridge water was tumbling over the rocks, that water that is that was not being bled off via this humungous pipe, of nearly ten feet diameter and ancient looking. I took a pause to get a couple of photos. To get good photos, I had to walk the bike up a short path and hike over to the dam and almost climb out on the dam face. The whole stop was about ten minutes.
|Dam on Hudson tributary at Shuylerville|
|Huge water pipe leading from dam|
|Day 4: Saratoga to Waterford|
I was labouring up the hill in my granny gear, thankfully going quite slowly, when I had a catastrophic equipment failure. It was 13:00. The metal attachment that held my front panier gave way from metal fatigue. It just snapped right off. Next thing I knew, the panier, hinged only by the two bolts at the base, had flipped forward and dumped the nice, new saddlebag I had borrowed from Sheryl right down into the road in front of me. It took me a moment to realise what was happening, as my brain tried to register this dragging noise as I ground the bag along. I finally stopped and examined the situation.
My camera and binoculars had been in the bag. Thank heavens they were well padded. Had I been rolling fast down a hillside, I would have flipped right over. The bag was nearly totalled. There was a huge gash in the top and the zipper was destroyed. I felt bad, for I had borrowed it, and it was a very nice and nearly new bag. I could go nowhere until I took the whole panier off. I rummaged through my tools and found the pliers and crescent wrench I needed to detach the tiny nuts and bolts. They had not been loosened since I put the panier on back in 1992, so it took some working to get them off.
Then I had to figure out how to attach this unwieldy front panier holder to my gear in back. It was a very awkward shape, and I could not have it so that it interfered with my pedalling.
The whole affair took me about twenty minutes, from 13:00 to 13:20, working out in the hot sun alongside this hill in the open, with no trees or shade, and cars speeding by at 60 mph..
|Champlain Canal: Shuylerville to Albany|
At 14:10 I crossed into the town of Stillwater, and by 14:20 I was at the town centre. Stillwater was a quaint, little town, stretched along the riverfront. The view of the river was spectacular. There was a low dam, about ten feet high, stretching all across the river in a vast semi-circle. Water flowed over the dam across its whole width in a thin ribbon, before breaking into rapids below, which stretched on down for a few hundred feet. There was a bridge across the river just upstream from the dam. The bridge led over to a narrow spit of land separating the River from the boat canal. Looking down the canal, one could see the lock about half a mile away.
|Looking south on Hudson from bridge at Stillwater|
|Looking back on dam and bridge from riverside|
I rode over, and down along the spit of land, looking for the park that was advertised. Along this narrow island was a gravel road. I went down about a quarter mile, to where I could park my bike and climb down to the water's edge. There was a great place to get a photo of the dam. I did not continue on down to the lock.
Instead I rode back into town and stopped into a small convenience store. I really needed to buy myself a short, emergency bungie cord that I could use to keep the torn, zipperless bag closed. I was still using it for my camera and field glasses, but had mounted it on the back. Thankfully, I found the bungie cord I needed. A sign at the counter indicated that they made the best milk shakes in town. I could not resist, and had a vanilla milkshake.
Seeing that it had gotten to be 15:00, I turned on my cell phone and called Sheryl. This time I was able to get through to her. She was at a clothing store in Hudson Falls, where I had been at 09:00. I told her she was probably about an hour and a half from me, and that I would be going as far as Waterford that day.
|View across to Stillwater|
|Canal around dam at Stillwater|
|Colonial era blockhouse at Stillwater|
|Day 4: Stillwater to Waterford (Street)|
At 15:20 I reached Mechanicville, a larger, old-style industrial town. I had to leave Hwy 4, as it rounded a shopping centre and became a freeway, with a "No Bikes" sign. I turned left and followed the old, main street into town, past an industrial park of old, brick mills and factories. Some looked like they had been around in Civil War days. There was one old factory with a half demolished brick smokestack. One quarter of it had been sliced away, revealing a thickness of a dozen bricks or more.
|Ruined factory and smokestack at Mechanicville|
I passed a old, abandoned steel trestle, crossing the Hudson. Nothing was left but the rusting superstructure. The rails and ties were long gone. Just below this bridge was yet another dam and lock.
|Old steel trestle at Mechanicville|
I rode on through the centre of this old town, past the courthouse and civic buildings, and a few blocks of old stores (mostly evacuated for the malls). Then the town began to thin out again. I rode past old, wooden houses, that looked like they had seen better days. The residents all looked poor and transient, with dirt for lawns and old, rusty cars sitting in driveways. I was a long way out of town, back into old factories and warehouses, and then into trees, before the street I was on finally regained Hwy 4.
Along the last stretch, the road had been compressed from freeway back to two-laned road, but the volume had not decreased. There was a lot of traffic! I was riding through woodland and past marshes and swamps, with little in the way of houses or any built up area.
As I was nearing Waterford, there was a sign for a small road leading off towards the River, towards the last lock in the Champlain Canal system. I could not resist, though I was leery of leaving the road for too long, as I did not know when Sheryl would be by. I rode out to the River, about half a block. There was a nice, green park, where one could sit and watch the water pouring over the dam and the boats going through the lock. Looking upstream, I could still just make out the steel railway bridge at Mechanicville. I took a few quick pictures, changed film, and then rode back out to the main road.
|Looking north on Hudson from below Mechanicville|
(Note the dam, locks, and steel trestle)
|Close up on dam, locks, and trestle|
|The final lock on the Hudson, above Waterford|
I made Waterford at 16:30. At the entrance to town is a small welcome sign, set off in the grass. I could not resist stopping for a photo, with my bike in front of the sign. From there the road curves around this huge factory complex, the GE Silicone Plant, for over a mile.
|Waterford -NY: Arrival at end of Day 4|
|Lodging: Day 5|
I tried to call Sheryl, but I had next to no service on my cell, and could not get through to her. We had arranged that I would leave my cell phone on after 15:00, and so I figured she would reach me eventually.
I had misplaced my riding gloves, so I rode the mile or more back to the Waterford welcome sign, hoping to find them there. I did not. Who knows where I left them.
I rode then on into the centre of town, which was about a mile past the motel. Hwy 4 and 32 come to a "T" junction at the centre of this quaint, old town. Along the main street are two-storey storefront buildings: Some antique stores (one on each of the 4 corners, for Sheryl), a couple of old cafes, and some other businesses. All around are narrow, tree-lined streets with old, wooden houses. These were in fine shape, however, unlike those of Mechanicville. At the junction, Hwy 32 turns to the right, towards Albany, and Hwy 4 to the left, over the bridge to Troy.
I explored on and soon found, a few blocks past the main street, the old waterfront. Here I came upon the final (or first, depending on one's point of view) lock of the famous, historical Erie Canal. Built in the 1820's, the Erie Canal opened up the "West" of the time. Coming out from the hillside, about a hundred feet or so, were two walls, about fifty feet high. These walls terminated in huge wooden doors. I had arrived just in time to see a barge heading up the canal.
|First lock on the Erie Canal|
|Barge departing lock|
|Barge departing lock|
Below the canal entrance, the waterfront of Waterford had been refurbished and modernised. There was a wide patio along which one could walk. Several boats were tied up along the pier, and there was a new, modern building to provide services to them. These would be boaters waiting to go up either the Erie or the Champlain canals. Walking out to the end of the pier, and past another abandoned steel trestle, I came to the point where the Mohawk River, coming from the west, joins the Hudson. I could look back up along the Mohawk, and up and down the Hudson. The Mohawk brings a lot of new water, and the Hudson gets much wider at this point. A big sign, right at land's end points right to the Champlain Canal and left to the Erie.
|Waterford: Entrance to the Erie and Champlain canals|
Across the River, I could see the buildings of Troy climbing right up a steep escarpment. There looked to be about three blocks of flat area along the waterfront before the land climbed up.
|Waterford waterfront, from Erie Canal lock|
|Waterford waterfront: looking back up the Mohawk River|
|Looking south on the Hudson at Mohawk River mouth|
|The Mohawk River|
|Day 4: Driving through Troy|
I met Sheryl in the parking lot and we went to explore the room. She was not impressed, but could see it was the only place around. I parked my bike inside the room, showered, and changed into my street clothes. We then set off to find a place to eat supper. The old, Indian guy at the office, where I went to inquire about my missing gloves, suggested we head towards Troy, and that on the outskirts we would find something.
We drove on into Waterford. I showed Sheryl where the antique stores were. Then we turned left and headed across the bridge and into Troy.
Right across the bridge was an old shopping centre and a "family" type restaurant, the Colonial Restaurant. Sheryl's reaction was lukewarm, so we decided to drive on some more. We followed Hwy 4 on into Troy, an urban blight that stretches long and thin along the River for several miles. It was like driving through the ghetto. Block after block of ramshakle, old wooden and brick houses that no one took care of any more, with very poor looking people sitting on their doorsteps. We drove all the way into downtown, without finding anything. I then decided to strike out away from the waterfront. I followed a main highway, Hwy 7, coming off of a Hudson River bridge, and at right angles to the River. It climbed right up the steep escarpment and, as I suspected, on the higher ground the homes began to look middle class. We did not find a restaurant to suite us, though, so after a couple of miles I turned around. I had decided that the Colonial Restaurant was the best looking place we had passed.
As we retraced the route though the depressed town, I made my decision that the next day I would ride on down along the Albany side. I figured it could not be worse!
We got to the Colonial Restaurant and got a nice booth in the back room, the "no smoking" room. Service and food was very good. I had Chicken & cream sauce on biscuits and Sheryl had a steak (which looked juicy and tender). We followed this up with desserts: I had fresh peaches and whipped cream over a biscuit and Sheryl had custard pie.
It was only a short way back to our motel, where Sheryl rubbed my knees with the healing oil. They actually had not ached that day, as I had not done any hills to speak of. We crashed at 09:00.