Big Lock & Little Falls

We’ve had bigger lifts on The Great Loop, but this one was exciting because of the way we entered it. In a rush. Why? Depends on who you ask, but if you ask me…it’s because all horses want to follow a stallion. The “stallion,” in this case, was a large and masculine-looking boat named Zeitgeist, a German word that means something like “spirit of the time.” And the spirit of “Looper time,” at least for the “man-in-charge,” is (usually)…”Go!!”

We were tied up on the lock wall in front of Lock E17 while Kay (Superior Passage) and I discussed whether it was a good place to spend the night. We had previously agreed, while under way, that the lock wall would be “Option 1” for the night and a marina a bit further west, in Little Falls, would be “Option 2.” A common option on the Erie Canal is to tie up to a lock wall for free. I like free, but it isn’t always “worth it.” Sometimes you have to get your eyeballs on a thing…like hands-on shopping in a 2nd-hand store. So we stopped at the lock wall to get our “hands on it.”

Just as Kay and I were saying that maybe the wall was too rough, but hadn’t had time to tell “the guys” our decision, we hear a man on Zeitgeist call across the water as he cruises by, “It’s better on the other side!”

And, just like that, we’re casting off and moving again. The lock was opened for Zeitgeist, and we had minutes to dash into it before it closed again. I had barely enough time to throw my life jacket back on (because they’re required or advisable inside all locks) and get the headsets ready (because it’s hard or impossible to communicate on our boat without them and communicating inside a lock can be critical to safety) before we were in the deepest lock on the Erie Canal.

So here’s my observations from this little event: 1. Horses want to run together — and our “horses” are on their home stretch back to Lake Superior, which makes them even more eager to run for the barn. 2. Women tend to discuss things before deciding, while men decide mostly “on instinct.” (And often based on what the other guys are doing.)

People don’t talk about it much, but I think these gender differences probably cause tension on most Looper boats. A same-gender crew would probably be a lighter lift.

Speaking of lifts….by the time we reach Lake Erie and Buffalo, N.Y. at the western end of the Erie Canal, we will have been lifted 570 feet. That’s how much higher Lake Erie is than the Hudson River at Albany.

On Day 2 of cruising the Erie Canal, we traveled through seven more locks before stopping here in Little Falls. That makes 16 locks on the Erie Canal so far (19 more to go), and 40 locks for us on The Great Loop.

We are staying in this little town for a 2nd night as a steady rain falls. I’m grateful for a time-out from cruising. Time for laundry, shopping, exploring, and napping! I’m still nursing a tender toe (which means a tender foot, which means a slight limp) from my injury during our cat-overboard event last week. It’s amazing how one sore toe can give you sore legs, since I can’t stay off my feet. Local pollen is sending me into fits of sneezing and wheezing a few times a day. But yes, I’m still having fun! (Mostly! 🙂 ) Photos and captions below.

The views from the Mohawk River segment of the canal are often beautiful. And so green! I hear the western end of the canal is even more beautiful.
This log pile on the shoreline reminds us, again, of the natural debris in the water. We dodge it constantly but have had no mishaps yet.
You can see the spillway (dam) on the left side as we approach a lock on the right.
At this lock, we can see the spillway from inside the lock as we approach the top of it.
The view from another lock, as we are at the top. (In this part of the Erie, the boat sometimes comes over the top of the lock wall.)
Interstate 90 runs alongside the canal for miles, so we hear semi-trucks zipping on one side and trains on the other.
We saw a lot of Amish on this leg, including families watching boats go through the locks. More than 12,000 Amish families live in Updates New York, said to be the fastest-growing Amish population in the U.S.
Amish boys fishing from the canal lock wall.
Approaching one of the many “guard gates” which can control the water level and even drain segments of the canal when needed; for ex., for maintenance.
About 40 miles into our daily cruise (more than 80 miles from the start of the canal), we stopped here at the lock wall in front of E17 to see if it felt like a safe and comfortable place to spend the night.
You can see Lock E17 directly in front of us on the other side of the bridge. This is not only the deepest lock on the Erie–it’s also the only one we’ve seen which closes and opens with a gate that lowers and rises, rather than doors that close and open.
Within minutes of securing to the lock wall before Lock E17, we were hanging onto lines inside it. You can see Zeitgeist in front of us.
As the gate closed behind us, the water started flowing in from one side. (In most locks, the water flows in from the front but in a few, it comes in from the side. In those locks, you must tie up on the opposite side of the water flow; otherwise, your boat would get pushed across the lock.)
This lock gave us a 40-foot lift. (We were lifted more than 60 feet in a lock in Tennessee.) I took this picture while hanging onto the sturdy line and looking up.
The water is really “boiling” inside Lock E17 here. I took this picture from the top of the lock. We went to the lock by bike after we tied up in town. People can walk across the top of most locks we’ve seen so far. Makes for great viewing!
This sign shows how far we have risen since leaving Waterford and how much we still have to “climb” before reaching Buffalo. It also tells us that the next lock is four miles ahead of us.
Little Falls is a town of nearly 5,000…about the same as my small hometown in northern Michigan.
This mural shows what Little Falls would like to be known for…the lock, trains, music, bicyclists, baseball, golf…
Little Falls is a charming canal town. (This photo shows a segment of the old locks.) I look forward to seeing more like this.
Many Moons secured to the dock at Little Falls Canal Harbor. We no longer have tides, so all docks (or walls) are fixed rather than floating. This means a tough climb out of the boat for me sometimes!
We had five other boats at the wall with us the first night (not all of them show up here) and even more tonight.
This is a really nice place for boaters to spend the night. The laundry machines operate on an honor system.
We’ve taken a few rides on the famous Erie Canalway Trail, 365 miles of bicycle trail that follows the entire canal. My brother has biked much of it. The trail is in great shape in this town.
A sign at an intersection of the Erie Canalway Trail.
Greg and Kay from Superior Passage and Jeff from Many Moons on the bike path.
On day 2 here, Jeff and I took our bikes to Moss Island, in the middle of the river, where we took a nice hike. Here, Jeff reads the guidance offered at a stop on the bike path before heading to the island. .
The rock formations on Moss Island were fabulous.
We’ve been traveling with Greg and Kay on Superior Passage for days. Since they are from Duluth (on Lake Superior), we have much in common. Here, overlooking the Erie Canal/Mohawk River in Amsterdam, our stop before Little Falls.
Many Moons (in background) is dwarfed by a yacht at the wall in Little Falls tonight. There’s an even larger yacht behind us. We’ve been traveling for days with boats smaller than us. It’s been nice!
When we meet other Looping boats, I give them one of these pens. I brought them with me when I re-boarded the boat in Maryland last month. A few Looping boats have given us a personalized items and I thought why not do the same?

One thought on “Big Lock & Little Falls

  1. I am always impressed with your insights into this epic journey we are on. Thanks for writing.

    Sent from my iPhone



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