The Normanskill, Albany, NY
Hard to believe, but true, kayaking the Normanskill in Albany is every bit as exciting and relaxing as anywhere I've ever kayaked in NYS. I only began kayaking the Normanskill late in 2006, so I'm still discovering it. I hope it stays unspoiled by development... the steep slippery banks, sometimes swift flow and environmental regulations all help. So far, I've seen deer, beaver, turtles, ducks, geese, an owl, lots of wild turkeys and even a big old heron presiding over it all. And to think it flows within 3 miles of the center of Albany.
Sorry, not much to report this year, either.
The Hudson won me over this year, too. After all, the Hudson is about 100' from my new studio workshop and I was too busy moving and setting up the workshop to take much time out for anything this year!
The spring floods did wash away the obstructions.
Sorry, not much to report on the Normanskill this year. Work has picked up and I had my best year ever! Signs, signs, everywhere a sign... Squeezed in some vacation time on Cape Cod (almost no mosquitos!) and locally did much of my kayaking on the Hudson. Alive At Five is not to be missed— on the water is the best way! And fireworks over the water at the Jazz Fest was fun. Troy's Riverfront Festival was fun, too, especially the Grateful Dead Tribute when the mayflies began their life cycle, millions of them swarming on the Hudson at sundown! They were a cloud from shore to shore and a mile long and pelted us and were hard to see through! They invaded our clothes! We paddled through them from Troy to Watervliet in the dark. The ladies were distressed and were relieved to get ashore. Me, I'll be back for more next summer. More of the Hudson, certainly, but those mayflies remind me of nature's abundance anytime, anywhere. That includes the Normanskill.
Finally! Back on the water again! Not that there's a lot of water, but the year is young. It took about two hours to paddle from New Scotland Ave. upstream to almost Krumkill Road where I hit my first logjam. Next time, I'll go over it, but this time it was getting late and I'm glad I got far enough to size it up. It looks rock solid, so I think it'll be there all summer. Hopefully, next year the spring melt will take it. Meanwhile, I see two spots that look safe for me to stretch my legs a bit and go over it.
The logjam is a little below Krumkill Road.
The New Scotland Ave. launch site is looking good.
Dang, everybody's got something more important for me to do than go paddling. Now, not only the leaves are gone, half the water's gone too!
til next time-
Below New Scotland Avenue, some fall colors, well at least yellow.
The long-promised boat slide is coming to New Scotland Avenue! This was planned long before the Great Recession, but I was afraid the funds might have dried up. I know I've been doing a lot less work for the state lately!
Otherwise, the water's getting low. but it's all beautiful as always...
til next time-
Immediately below the Watervliet Reservoir dam is the beginning point of many an all day expedition, but not today, no way, it looked like a mud puddle. So, we went to the new access point at the County Route 203 bridge and paddled upstream, but it's just not easy paddling with the water so low. This is why I rarely paddle this far above Krumkill Road without a lot of rain first.
American Bald Eagle 9 November 2008 over Krumkill Road. Didn't believe my eyes til I heard the eagle! There are reports online and even a short video of it.
July & August 2008:
Sat. 26 July Thanks to this week's rainstorms, the Normanskill is swollen with water, fast and muddy. This is fun and a great workout. I paddle against the current all the way from the golf courses, up past Krumkill Road to the humongous logjam, then back down.
The floodwater was ten feet high. Glad I wasn't here then. Someday, on shore, I'd like to see the Normanskill flood up during a big rainstorm!
Here is the Krumkill Road area:
Old Krumkill Road bridge foundation.
25 April 2008 Special Report:
THE UPPER NORMANSKILL
We put in just below the Watervliet Reservoir. From the reservoir down to Krumkill Road, the Normanskill is essentially one-way, there being many small rapids.
The cliffs I've heard about, but didn't believe. Can you see my fellow kayaker up ahead? He's just starting down a small rapids.
Major logjam. No way to sneak around this one; we had to portage. We took different ways. For me, it was easiest to go right through some blackberry brambles. This is one of the two jams that completely block paddlers and must be portaged around.
The Normanskill is swollen with water and it's moving fast...quite a workout!
Looks like the spring melt has washed away every single tree and jam shown above.
Here's the latest waterfront development.
August through October 2007:
Apple tree offering drive-thru convenience.
This colossal-size tree fell from the Albany side and almost completely blocks the creek halfway between New Scotland Ave. and Krumkill Rd. Impassable? Nah. Just be careful.
A beaver "bachelor dam" in progress on the Bethlehem side.
A little island made entirely of clay.
A little bit below Krumkill Road, the water gets too quick and shallow for me to paddle up, unless I get out and pull the kayak a bit.
This tree is a mile up from New Scotland Ave. and needs a good trimming so paddlers can go around it.
Packing list for someone's next trip: Camera, sandwich, snacks, energy drink, bow saw...
A shot of my buddy, the great blue heron in air, upper left. He plays hide and seek for miles.
Playing through...please don't hit my kayak... Golf ball retrieval technique...
Poached golf balls.
Who loses the most balls... Capital Hills or Normanside Country Club? Hard to say. They wouldn't lose any balls if they'd come down to the water and paddle a few miles and get some real exercise!
June 16th: Probably not poison ivy. Perfect weather today. Put in at New Scotland Avenue.
It's green and lush and there are scarce few signs of our city of almost a hundred thousand.
Here's Capital Hills and a golfer waving hi. Don't go below the golf courses if you want to be able to paddle back upstream. Anyway, conditions below the Delaware Ave. bridge are deadly. Literally.
I paddled back upstream to New Scotland Ave., then a mile farther upstream until this newly toppled tree blocked me. Normally, I'd go over or around it, but felt lazy. Maybe a torrential rainstorm or the government or somebody will move it. I went downstream as far as the golf courses again, then back up here, then down to New Scotland Ave., perhaps 10 miles total; not bad for feeling lazy.
April 16th RAINSTORM! GOOD NEWS: a foot of water in our back yard probably means lots of water for the Normanskill 3 miles away.
April 23rd: Outrageously perfect weather! I said I wish I was on the water and my wife said go...
I put in at New Scotland Ave. at the new picnic area (the one with the gazebo) on the Albany/Bethlehem line. The current's really not as strong as I expected after last week's rain. I paddled about 4 miles upstream (almost to Krumkill Road) until encountering a flow that's always too strong for me and as usual I let the creek turn me around and resigned myself to an easy 4 miles back down to New Scotland Ave.
Just wait til it's green.
Next time, I'll see what's downstream from New Scotland Ave. That's only maybe 2 miles each way and one must turn back before one gets to the City Gardens where the Normanskill gets too shallow and swift to paddle back up. Then, on the downstream side of the Delaware Ave. bridge, there are conditions that "would probably kill the average kayaker" according to a NYSDEC expert.
~~~~~~WHERE I GO IN:~~~~~~
We have a little park with a few picnic benches at Albany's city limit on New Scotland Avenue. The pedestrian bridge is done and I hear they have hiking trails in mind. The long planned canoe/kayak slide is completed. If well received, it will be a prototype for the region.
My heartfelt thanks to the D.E.C. for making the New Scotland Avenue access easy and safe. It was completed in November 2009. Once in, I can paddle about 2 miles down to the golf courses as well as at least 6 miles up, past Krumkill Rd.
The parking and picnic area.
Steep and slippery. This is where I used to go in a hundred feet from the 2009 boat slide. I have ropes, fore and aft, so I could "guide" my craft into the water, hopefully without breaking my neck. The kayak is nearly indestructible, too.
Very steep and at least 15 feet down.
I love sketching the natural beauty of the Normanskill (and other Albany area treasures) but don't have nearly enough free time. Anyway, here's a few good examples. I work from my own photos.
Early spring 2008.
Capital Hills municipal golf course and golfer waving hi.
More of my original sketches of the Normanskill are on my Pen & Ink Landscape Drawings and my Albany Scenes pages. They are for sale, both originals and small prints.