I don’t mind saying, Leah and I were collective bundles of nerves by the time we left the house this morning.
We’ve been planning this trip – this 360-mile end-to-end hike of the Erie Canal Trailway – almost a year. Indeed, knowing that many of the towns along the way only have a bed and breakfast, we actually started making reservations for those critical spots as early as last August.
We’ve hiked more than usual this past winter to help prepare ourselves for today or at least know what we felt capable of doing.
Then, as we got closer to today’s kickoff, the weather looked questionable. We knew starting this early in the spring in upstate New York was chancy, but it was the only time that would work for us. However, as for now, the weather forecast is more hospitable – slightly warmer and with less rain.
When we got up this morning, there really wasn’t much left to do but wait until our planned departure. That’s what makes one nervous.
The time came and Pam and Anna, who are from this area, drove us to the starting point. As an extra bonus, a friend from Texas who now lives here came out with her two young children. As we stepped off at 11:15 a.m., it was with a small band of cheerleaders pushing us onward.
I purposely scheduled a short walk for the first day, some 7.6 miles, which means we arrived at the motel fairly early. That was OK; we took our time recuperating and showering after making a one-mile walk (without backpacks) to get something to eat.
I apologize for the boring start, but we won’t have to go over that again. I hope to find something interesting to talk about each day. On our first leg, it’s the Jack-Knife Bridge, seen in the photo with a train crossing it.
According to information along the trail, the cantilever-type bridge was built in 1919 by the N.Y. Central Railroad. At the time, the state planned to rebuild all bridges along the canal to allow passage of vessels with masts. However, projected costs led to them dropping the idea. Therefore, this magnificent bridge was raised only a few times for testing and has never been raised since.
In this section each day, I will toss in some observations that might be of interest to someone considering this hike or just thinking about doing one leg of it.
We started at Niawanda Park in Tonawanda on a well-defined trail. In fact, initially it had lanes marked for pedestrians and two lanes for bicyclists. It seems like a great idea because we encountered a lot of bicycle riders. Of course, that classy trail played out eventually.
Much of it is in town. There were restaurants and stores at the beginning and several when the path reached Robinson Road, which was where we left the trail. By the way, I used Parks & Trails New York’s website at http://www.ptny.org/bike-canal/map/ to chart the trail.
We left in order to get to our room for the night at Scottish Inn on Niagara Boulevard in North Tonawanda. We paid $67 total for a decent and comfortable room. As I mentioned earlier, there was nowhere nearby to eat, so we walked half a mile to a Tim Horton’s for dinner and also picked up something for breakfast. Of course, pizza delivery is another option.
The trail through town was quite beautiful, including crossing through a park. We found a couple of rest room stops at city parks. You might note a sizeable section where you’re walking on a shoulder, a road on one side and “no trespassing” signs on the other.
For the most part, we felt safe. Even when walking on the shoulder of the road, most drivers scooted over much more than was necessary whenever possible.