Moonlight Ski Canceled

Even though we have sufficient snow the Family Moonlight Ski scheduled for December 28 in the Vischer Ferry Preserve in cancelled due to the polar conditions.  Please go skiing during the day when it is warmer, but make sure if you go alone that you let someone know where you are and when to expect you back.

WeatherReadyNationRemember the old Norse saying, “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.”

Holiday Party


You are cordially invited to the

Friends of the Mohawk Towpath Byway



Re-Scheduled to JANUARY 9, 2018 due to weather!


Historic Grooms Tavern

Corner of Sugar Hill Rd and Grooms Road

Our guest speaker will be Frank Berlin, retired educator and naturalist and member of the Clifton Park Open Space Committee. He will talk about beaver control, watering the canal, where the eagles came from, where our Byway visitors come from and other factoids of interest.  Need more information?

Byway on the Move


DUATHLON START – photo by Kristen Hislop

Thank you all for a most successful Mohawk Towpath Byway Duathlon!  Some 110 competitors started a 2 mile run followed by a 17 mile biking leg and another 2 mile run to finish.

I am no economist but this event brought in over $11,000 which was all spent locally [except $285 of Sanction and Insurance Fees to a National Governing Body in Colorado].  Every other dollar went to local suppliers, businesses, and contractors here on the Byway, or in the southern Saratoga County area.  That doesn’t include what competitors or their families spent for conveniences, gifts and remembrances, and fuel for the trip home.

During the week before the Duathlon the hits on the website peaked at four times the traffic we normally see for our Byway websites.  The calls to our cell phone based self-guided tour were overshadowed only by the number of calls over the first week of July when we were running spots on local public radio.

No matter how you slice or dice the numbers your help with the Duathlon pays us back many times over.  It reaches a demographic whom we don’t see any other time of the year, at least not in these numbers.

Whether you helped with circulating Byway information, stuffed envelops, helped with registration, volunteered with a traffic flag, scooped mashed potatoes and dished chicken, followed in the sweep car, passed out water, monitored the radio waves, or any other volunteer job… your contribution to the success of the Duathlon and ultimately to the Byway are very much appreciated!

…and the Weather

NOAAOpenHouseAs the Byway’s self appointed Weather Ready Nation Ambassador, my wife, oldest grandson and I had the privilege of visiting the new NOAA weather center in Albany today.  Even though they were preoccupied with the approaching storm they did offer some insight on what they expect this winter.  Keep in mind that the National Weather Service’s definition of winter is for the calendar season, December 21 to March 20, while you and I know it can snow anytime between now and the end of April.  In fact, before we left they were  looking at the possibility of snow on the back end of the approaching storm as precipitation is ending in the Tug Hill and western Adirondacks.NOAA

…a ‘normal’ winter, ‘like last winter’

The team of meteorologists all seemed to agree that this will be a “normal” winter, “like last winter” at least here in the Albany area.  There will be “normal” amounts of precipitation  and “normal” temperatures.  Further they point out that Lake Ontario and Lake Erie are warmer than normal right now, meaning enhanced lake effect precipitation most noticeable in the Tug Hill, northern Adirondacks and St Lawrence Valley.  They would not make any prediction on the amount of snow other than to say that “normal” winter average temperature is about 27o.  You and I know that temperatures are consistently one or two degrees cooler north of the Mohawk than they are in Albany (specifically at SUNY-IT).  They added that “normally” we are more likely to have snow early in the season and late in the season.

Will this coming storm shepherd in colder weather?  No, it will probably not result in a dramatic drop in temperatures, but more “normal” temperatures will follow.  This is likely to go into the record books as the 5th warmest October on record.  Will we have a Family Moonlight Ski in the Vischer Ferry Preserve on December 28?  Ask me on Boxing Day.  In the meantime watch for flash flooding Sunday night into Monday in low lying areas and the likelihood of high winds as the storm moves out on Monday.

The National Weather Service team also promised an update on the winter outlook on November 16.  Another teaser:  two of the younger members of the team promised to publish a video of a weather balloon launch on Youtube.  They launch a weather balloon  from the roof of the building at SUNY-IT twice daily, more often if needed.

If you ever get an invitation to visit a National Weather Service office, take them up on it!  You don’t have to be a weather geek to really appreciate the opportunity.

Register Now


Finishers!– photo by Kristen Hislop

The 15th Annual Mohawk Towpath Byway Duathlon is coming up on October 15.  Entry fees will increase between now and race day so register now.  This fun race includes a 2 mile run (or walk), a 17 mile biking leg, and a 2 mile run to the finish all from Riverview Orchards in Rexford.  All against a backdrop of beautiful fall foliage on one of our unique America’s Byways®.

If you have already registered you must know about the clinic coming up on Sunday, Sept 24 from 2 to 5 PM at the historic Grooms Tavern.  For more information contact “hislop coaching @ gmail(dot)com.”

Volunteer!  If you would rather not do the “du” you can enjoy the fun and share the goodies by volunteering.  Contact the race director for more details or just show up at the next volunteer meeting on Tuesday, October 10, at 7 PM at historic Grooms Tavern.  Your help would be greatly appreciated

Duathlon Planning

The important facet of Duathlon planning at this time is our sponsors. Our sponsors make the Duathlon a worthwhile effort for the Friends of the Byway and for the Byway Coalition as well. Sponsors so far are:

  • The Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor – returning Gold sponsor…ECNHCCPartner
  • Stewart’s Shops – long time Silver sponsor…StewartsShops
  • Price Chopper/Golub Foundation – returning Bronze sponsor and
  • Halfmoon Family Dental – long time Bronze sponsor

We hope the following sponsors will join in as they have promised:

  • Capital Region Landfils
  • The Hamiltons of Acworth, GA and
  • his employer G E
  • Shenendehowa Rotary
  • Hammer Nutrition

Still working on the possibility of:

  • Brookfield Renewable Power, a long time sponsor
  • and several new possibilities including a local craft brewer, a credit union, a bank, a cycling supplier, a neighborhood general store, and other partners.

If you know of someone who would like to join our prestigious team of sponsors, enjoy the recognition, and share our pride in a job well done please let us know and we will contact them.

The next meeting of the organizing committee is on Tuesday evening, August 15 at the historic Grooms Tavern.  It doesn’t seem possible that the Duathlon is just two months away!  You are welcome to join us.

Canal Fest

MabieCanalFest3Thanks to the Schenectady County Historical Society for the opportunity to participate in the Canal Fest at the Mabee Farm!  With over 500 cyclists coming through during the morning and the hundreds of people to the other attractions and activities during the day there was plenty of interest and excitement for a broad demographic.  Our booth’s placement just inside the the Dutch barn, with folk music nearby, local food venders. cooling breezes off the river we had plenty of curious, knowledgeable visitors and much interest in canals and the recreation venues around our area. Thanks also to Nancy Papish for these photographs and to her and Maryanne Mackey for help with the booth and visiting with “our public.”MabieCanalFest1

Ready for Summer

Friends of the Byway clean up ready for the summer season.

Friends of the Byway clean up ready for the summer season.

Friends of the Mohawk Towpath Byway polished up the three kiosks in Clifton Park in time for the busy summer season.  For some reason these three kiosk tend to accumulate a greasy film.  We have tried a couple of techniques to minimize the dirt:

  • A coating of car wax after cleaning
  • An algaecide spray residue on the clean signs

Any other ideas would be greatly appreciated.

The three interpretive kiosks take less than an hour to clean including travel between the three sites, with many thanks to those who helped and the mosquitoes that kept us focused on the task at had.  It was a fun exercise for those who participated!

Use your cell phone and key in 518-649-9990.  These are stops 3, 4 and 5.  Visit the Byway today!

Turtle Talk

For centuries during the first warm days of spring female turtles leave water’s edge and start up the shore to lay their eggs in many places along Riverview Road in Clifton Park to Rexford.  Mature turtles of all sizes can be seen crossing the pavement on their way to higher ground with sandy soil, ideal for nurturing turtle eggs until the fry hatch.  This can be dangerous for the turtles because drivers don’t always see them even in bright spring sunlight.

SaveTurtlesOn May 25, 2017, Junior Girl Scout Troop 2158, in conjunction with the Town of Clifton Park, ended their very busy year with a Turtle Talk presentation at the Vischer Ferry Historic and Nature Preserve an important part of the Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway.  With the installation of 7 new Turtle Crossing signs in the area of the Vischer Ferry Historic and Nature Preserve, the troop assisted in the unveiling signs along with town officials.  The girls presented facts about painted and snapping turtles, both of which inhabit the area and are often seen crossing the roads.  The troop helped to alert the public as to the importance of these reptiles and what to do if one is found in a life-threatening location such as the road.

Knowing that the turtles born this year could still be alive in 2047, the girls were enthusiastic about turtle preservation.  As part of the initiative to help retain this natural, cultural, and scenic area, Troop 2158 is grateful for the opportunity to be part of it.  Besides, the girls loved crossing the Whipple Bridge, walking the towpath, and seeing the turtles in the water!

Look for the new “turtle crossing” signs as you travel the Byway  …and watch for the turtles!

-Contributed by Isabel Prescott