old erie canal trail

Discussion in 'Tell Me About It' started by cnycharles, Oct 25, 2010.

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  1. Oct 25, 2010 #1

    cnycharles

    cnycharles

    cnycharles

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    I've talked about biking on the old erie canal trail and showed a few pictures I've taken here and there, but never posted what it looks like around there. There is alot of wildlife, both large and small and an amazing diversity of plant life. Since it's in lowland and bordering the oriskany flats wildlife management area which has a lot of wetlands and is near both the mohawk river and the much newer barge canal, there is a lot of wet around it (besides inside of it!).

    The original erie canal was built in the 1800's to open up traffic to the 'west', and to help farmers sell their goods down in new york city. At the time it was built, there were very few of what you could call roads, and much of the traffic was through any navigable waterway, which included any stream deep enough to allow a canoe to pass through. Much of new york state, and most of upstate/central ny was originally the wilderness to the rest of the country, and quite a good number of the 'western' stories that have been told happened in central new york state. Much of the traffic that settled the mid-west and what is now the west began on the erie canal, at least until train made their appearance and made the canals obsolete for shipping freight and people. The original canal and others built in upstate ny weren't really that large, and the canal boats had to be built wide and low so that they could pass underneath the short bridges spanning parts of the canal.
    There are plants that are along the canal (like garlic and apples and probably others) because people eating these items would toss their refuse from the tow horse/mule or the barge onto the side of the bank. As a result, there are many apple trees along the sides of the canal so there can be spots where the bike/walking path can be covered by apples this time of year.

    I'm going to split the pictures into three sections since there were so many mushrooms and other fungi coming out right about now

    [​IMG]
    a rare view down a partial length of the old erie canal. usually there are so
    many bushes that you can't get to the edge of the water (where there is
    water) to get a picture. this crossover was built in more recent times for
    farm vehicle traffic to fields on the other side of the canal

    [​IMG]
    a long look down one of the long straight-aways of the trail path

    [​IMG]
    merged pics of one of the beaver dams in the canal. if it weren't for the
    beavers, much of the canal would just look like a wide, muddy ditch with a
    small stream wandering through it. I wish I could move all of the beaver
    dams that are flooding out some of my favorite native orchid spots to here...

    [​IMG]
    the small spillway of the beaver dam; you can get a view right across the top
    of the water (tough to get a picture of it)

    [​IMG]
    a very nice maple tree and reflection in the canal (I really wish I had a nice,
    wide-angle lens (sigh))

    [​IMG]
    this is what much of the canal looks like where there aren't any beaver dams

    [​IMG]
    speaking of beavers....

    [​IMG]
    many kinds of waterfowl like the canal; this is a mated pair of mallards, I've
    seen a few other kinds of ducks, great blue herons, a nesting pair (plus
    young) of mute swans (non-native), another small white crane or heron seen
    once and occasionally geese. the geese usually are in the wetlands and
    waterways on either side of the canal

    next section will have lots of berries, seeds and things like that
     
  2. Oct 25, 2010 #2

    cnycharles

    cnycharles

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    part two, berries and seeds +

    there are tons interesting trees, shrubs and other smaller plants along the canal. apple trees are very common, along with rosa rugosa (native wild roses), many dogwoods, clematis vines and whole lot more

    [​IMG]
    a 'carpet' of apples underneath an old apple tree along the canal trail

    [​IMG]
    there are tons of bushes with berries on them this time of year. this is a
    close-up of what are called 'rose hips' or the fruiting body of wild roses.
    usually these stems are covered with nasty thorns; this plant for some
    reason didn't have as many. it had rained/snowed the afternoon/night before,
    so many of these berries still have water clinging to them

    [​IMG]
    a whole bush full of rose hips

    [​IMG]
    a birds nest that would normally be hidden amongst the rose blooms, leaves
    and thorns (excellent protective cover). I don't know for sure, but there often
    are catbirds in the bushes along the canal, so this could be a catbird nest

    [​IMG]
    birds aren't the only things that make nests in the vegetation along the canal;
    this wasp or hornet nest was a little ways off the trail and off the ground. it
    didn't look active though it was quite chilly that morning; if you note the
    extra 'aeration' in the side, it's probably likely that someone 'ventilated' this
    nest with a shotgun or rifle

    [​IMG]
    a grey dogwood over the canal; I hadn't noticed that there were so many of
    these bushes along the trail until I saw the berries this fall. it looks like the
    birds favor the grey dogwood berries over the black ones as many of the
    grey ones are gone while most of the black ones remain

    [​IMG]
    black dogwood berries glistening with melted snow

    [​IMG]
    a monochrome representation of an open milkweed seed pod.

    [​IMG]
    last week I posted pics of a clematis commonly known as 'virgin's bower',
    and though I'm pretty sure these are the remains of clematis vines they don't
    quite look like the same species, though these could just be older versions
    of the same thing

    next, 'fabulous fungi!'
     
  3. Oct 25, 2010 #3

    cnycharles

    cnycharles

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    part three fungi!

    the erie canal runs through some very wet land, and if you look just a little you often can find lots of fungi. during damp, and often cold and damp weather you can find different forms of shelf mushrooms; some are identical to the oyster mushrooms you find in the grocery store, but I haven't found those particular ones very often. in upstate/central ny, most all of the fungi that are growing on non-evergreen trees are edible. it's a different story if it's growing on the ground; some are edible and many aren't. I don't eat all of the mushrooms found on trees; first I would take pictures of it and take to someone who knows what they are doing and then collect some. some fungi growing on trees aren't necessarily 'mushrooms' that you would want to collect or eat. I call them 'conchs' which is probably incorrect, but the tough fungi that grow on many trees, often quite large and/or fibrous, really aren't edible and for the sake of this discussion aren't what I class as 'mushrooms'. i've read that some hard shelf fungi are 'edible', but I'm not classifying something that if boiled would sustain life to some degree, i'm going for 'tastes good and looks good' (smile) and maybe smells good too!

    [​IMG]
    these clusters of ground mushrooms are found in many spots along both
    sides of the canal trail. *update* Eric Muehlbauer has pointed out that these are
    'Shaggy Mane' mushrooms, coprinus comatus and that they are edible. A quick look
    online confirms this to be so, but great care must be done before using them
    (they are very delicate and must not be eaten while using alcohol)

    [​IMG]
    an edible mushroom growing high up on a black ash (common bottomland
    tree), usually out of a knot or branch hole)

    [​IMG]
    a fallen tree with many 'shelf' fungi, and one very large one on the far end

    [​IMG]
    large shelf fungi acting as a natural birdbath!

    [​IMG]
    another fungi birdbath

    [​IMG]
    small cluster mushrooms that are usually found growing out of cherry and
    elm trees. i've been told that they are edible, but since they are small and
    there isn't much to them (and there are other larger ones I do know about)
    I leave them alone

    [​IMG]
    a huge cluster of bracket fungi (I don't think they are 'mushrooms')

    [​IMG]
    an interesting and attractive 'mushroom' I don't remember seeing before
    growing out of a very old, weathered tree. I'm going to contact someone to
    find out if they are mushrooms or other fungi and if they are edible

    [​IMG]
    very cool mushrooms growing out of the side of a very old, rotten log. I don't
    know what they are but like above will contact someone. if anyone knows what
    any of these fungi are, let me know

    [​IMG]
    top cap of previous mushroom

    [​IMG]
    mama and baby mushrooms hugging (no, I didn't pick these to eat (smile))

    [​IMG]
    more of the same kind up on an ash tree, growing out of a knot hole

    [​IMG]
    this type can be difficult to get a good picture of, especially on a bright/cloudy
    day; the top reflects alot of light, but underneath doesn't have enough reflected
    light to illuminate it. these were growing on a fallen tree over the
    canal water

    [​IMG]
    same mushroom, just old enough so that the gills are fully open for
    maximum spore dispersal

    a good sign for telling if a mushroom is 'edible' is to look and see if bugs and
    worms are already eating them. you should always consult an expert before
    eating any sort of wild fungi, as some people are reactive to certain ones
    while other people aren't affected. wild mushrooms should always be cooked
    before being eaten. ... if you aren't sure, toss it out! (no, don't feed it to the
    neighbor's cat that's always marking the bushes in your yard...)
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2010
  4. Oct 26, 2010 #4

    Gcroz

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    What a wonderful, and well narrated, photo tour! Thanks for posting this! :)
     
  5. Oct 26, 2010 #5
    Those "ground mushrooms" are shaggy manes (Coprinus comatus)...although the ones in the photo are past peak, they are eminently edible when young and just beginning to open. I used to pick them in college. You have to saute them in butter...and then they will release a ton of dark water. Raise the heat, and boil off the liquid...what remains is nicely crisp and buttery. Delicious! But I don't think that Coprinus mushrooms can be paired with alcohol...some interaction that makes you feel ill.
     
  6. Oct 26, 2010 #6

    SlipperFan

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    You take such wonderful trips!
     
  7. Oct 26, 2010 #7

    Hera

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    Thanks Charles, I took my kids on a fungi hunt last week. They thought I was a bit nuts, but its cool to see all the different shapes and colors.
     
  8. Oct 26, 2010 #8

    cnycharles

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    interesting! there are others that are still emerging and haven't opened up yet. only problem is the fear factor involved with picking and eating mushrooms from an area where many people walk their dogs.

    after reading this the first time I did a google search under the above name and found out that another coprinus has been renamed and is now called Coprinopsis atramentaria or tippler's bane, which definitely can disable the body's alcohol digestive system and affect other neurological functions (in addition to alcohol consumption)...

    ... shall I go pick some and freeze them for somebody? :) (the good ones, I mean...)
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2010
  9. Oct 26, 2010 #9

    Justin

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    wow amazing...
     
  10. Oct 26, 2010 #10

    hardy

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    Aaaawwwww, what an amazing thread!!! :clap::clap::clap::clap::clap:
    Thanks so much for sharing those fabulous pics and taking the time to tell the story. I esp. enjoy the historical part relating to old NYC. The story about how the apple trees grow along the canal is my favorite part, and I find the photo of the footpath strewn with apples kind of romantic :eek: While the rose hips shows abundance in its glory :D

    I did not know beavers are such good dam maker! The dam photos really rock!

    And finally, I enjoyed the mushroom part very much. I spent so much time reading Simon and Schuster's guide to mushrooms when I was a kid and so the beautiful mushrooms that you captured on your trip really make me tick ^^
     
  11. Oct 26, 2010 #11
    Amazing photos Charles!!! Thank you for sharing this great walk with us!!! :D:D I especdially liked the mushrooms!!!
     
  12. Oct 26, 2010 #12

    NYEric

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    Thanx for sharing. Maybe next year I'll really fix a bike and come riding w/ you. I'll get NJ Clarke to come too! :D
     
  13. Oct 26, 2010 #13

    Clark

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    Great day with the camera Charles!

    Eric and Charles - I'm OK for bike ride next year.
    Oddly enough, I was going to suggest http://www.nyccentury.org/ next year. I am good for 35 or 55.
     
  14. Oct 26, 2010 #14

    Shiva

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    Seems like a great place to take a walk or go for a bike ride. Thanks for the show. :)
     
  15. Oct 26, 2010 #15
    :clap::clap: What a trip! :clap::clap: Thanks for posting!
     
  16. Oct 26, 2010 #16

    cnycharles

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    interesting! I don't have a touring bike (mountain hybrid road/trail) but I do a loop of around 24 that includes packed gravel trail and highway including hills, so I would bet it wouldn't be problem doing 35 and with more practice 55. on a flat paved surface someone could ride a very long time provided they had food, water and no wind (or wind at the back). after seeing the condition of some of the manhattan roads this spring, I think a mountain bike would be more appropriate than a touring bike in the city ;)


    yes, it is a nice path; only problem is that with moisture there are insects! at times, clouds of tiny flying bugs like to hover in the open area of the path between the trees, so goggles and not breathing with your mouth open are good ideas! at other times it's okay to ride along, but if you have to stop to admire something or whatever, the mosquitos can jump you in some spots; the more shady the spot the more likely to get chased. this time of year is very nice though yesterday there were a few fliers around, so still have to breath carefully lol
     
  17. Oct 26, 2010 #17

    NYEric

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    NOt me. 20 mile max I think! :p
     
  18. Oct 27, 2010 #18

    Clark

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    :rolleyes:
    You guys pick a time for the Erie Canal. My automobile has a bike carrier.:)

    Charles- I have mountain bike too. I use it everywhere. It is fifteen years old, thinking this is my forth chain.
    I think 55 is a bit much for fun. At 35, we won't be killing ourselves. 3hrs. at 12 miles/hr. sounds reasonable.
     
  19. Oct 27, 2010 #19

    NYEric

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    It's a plan!
     
  20. Oct 27, 2010 #20

    mormodes

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    Bittersweet images Charles. I'd always wondered what the Erie Canal looked like these days. I thought it would have been better preserved, like the canals in Europe and Ireland - for house barging and touristy activities. But no. Looks like complete disrepair. Pity. If it wasn't for the Erie Canal New York wouldn't be New York, state or city. IIRC Philadelphia was the largest English speaking city in the western hemisphere at the time, center of knowledge and politics. I'm probably wrong about that, but I'm not wrong about the influence of the canal. There was something special about the lock where the canal joins the Lake Erie, too. Biggest engineering project at the time. First time that sort of lock was used....something like that.

    Speaking of the barges & canals there's a good Inspector Morse mystery written by Colin Dexter called 'The Wench is Dead'. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wench_is_Dead in which Morse is stuck in hospital and passes the time solving a 'cold case' from the 1850s, a murder along the Oxford canal system. Good depiction of life at the time.

    Sorry to be off topic.

    Back to lurking
     

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