One of the things I've gotten to appreciate about the Erie Canal is its no-nonsense industrial look and feel. It's a bit rough around the edges, the concrete lock chamber walls sometimes crumbling as I grab a hold. It is staffed by weathered down-to-earth men who look like they could be truckers or machinists if they had to make another choice, as compared to the chipper college students on the Rideau Canal. It's not a criticism or favouring of either, just an observation. I do however like the fact that non-motorized craft travel the Erie at no charge, and without discrimination. Lock Masters dutifuly operate the locks even when I'm the only one inside, and when I expressed to one that I really appreciated what he was doing for me, he replied, "It's what I do, I'm just doin' my job." They have been incredibly helpful, even calling the next lock ahead to expect my arrival.
This section of the canal east of Rochester is more overgrown, cattails and berry bushes softening the banks. While towpaths in the western part look like a mule can still drag a barge alongside the canal, here it is has been obscured by the woods. The foliage is lush, a Carolinian forest mix that is skewed to the brighter, yellowish greens, as opposed to the dark blue greens of the boreal forest i'm used to closer to home. I hardly see any pine, spruce or cypress but it is peppered with sumac and wild grape.
I didn't quite like ending the day by paddling yesterday, as it is a much slower mode and it is frustrating trying to hurry to get your goal as the sun is coming down fast. After paddling from Macedon to Lyons, about 20 miles (32 kms), my arms say no more. In a small park I switch to towing mode, but not knowing where the canal bike route was, I just took the highway (NY31) which had really nice wide shoulders. It is a rolling road, and there were some good hills that got into my lowest gears at times.
The canal bike route leaves the functioning part of the canal in favour of the old alignment that is now dry in some parts. I head for Weedsport, which has not been a port of call for canal boats for a very long time. The canal was realigned several times in its history, leaving some communities high and dry, other places such as Rochester and Syracuse requested to be by-passed, as they saw the writing on the wall for a waning technology.
Droplets of rain convince me of staying indoors tonight. Batteries need recharging, mine as well as the computer's.