Rail Trails around Clifton Park

Little did I know linking up several area bike paths for a ride around Clifton Park would lead finding somebody's wallet strewn along a stretch of road, finding wheat growing along the new bike path, discovering there's such a thing as red elderberries, cooking up delicious oyster mushrooms, and killing a chipmunk on my bike!

New York has been aggressively extending and improving bike paths all over the state. Our area is getting extensions to some of our bike paths which make it easier to link up from one path to the next. Area runners who ride bikes sometimes went on inspiring rides on the new sections, which got me planning a circuit that links up four different big bike paths with only a few miles on roads.

I hopped onto the Mohawk-Hudson Bike Trial where it intersects Route 9 and started riding to Cohoes then to Waterford. I took a wrong turn and ended up on the wrong side of the river in Troy, but easily crossed another bridge and didn't lose much time getting to the Old Champlain Canal Towpath from Waterford to Mechanicville. This section of stone dust bike path runs along an old abandoned canal. I love this trail, and it's got just enough morbid views to make it stand apart from the other local bike paths.

At the end of this path I rode through Mechanicville to arrive at the very new section of the Zim Smith Trail.

What's with the cage?
OooOOoooh, to protect you from golf balls. That makes sense. Or does it?
I don't think it does. 🙁

Along this new section of trail they planted grass... Or something.

Is it just me, or does this look like actual wheat, like the stuff you make bread with?

Whatever it is, it's yummy, right now they are a little soft and taste a lot like malt. I can't wait to come back and harvest these and make my own flour for pizza dough! Just by coincidence I just watched a video about growing wheat in your garden and making flour (and bread) from it. (Note that I have no actual idea if these are really wheat or not so eating it is not a risk I'd recommend taking.)

At the Shenantaha Creek Park I exited the Zim Smith trail and rode to the Ballston Veterans Bike Path which runs down the west side of Ballston Lake. There were lots of nice black raspberries (always surrounded by poison ivy).

I spotted a bunch of what looks like maybe they could be elderberry flowers:

Shortly after that I saw the same type of plant with what looked exactly like elderberries, only they are red instead of purple. Googleing "red elderberries", it turns out there is such a thing as red elderberries! Apparently they are possibly poisonous when uncooked but edible when cooked. I perhaps foolishly nibbled a berry and it was almost tasteless so I'm not sure if these make any decent substitute for regular elderberries. But it's pretty exciting to have made a new discovery! I'll have to read up on it to see if these could be useful for something.

After the Ballston Lake Bike Path I rode down Blue Barns Road towards the Mohawk-Hudson Bike Path near the Rexford Bridge. Here I spotted a peculiar object (which turned out to be an empty wallet), followed by a driver's license. I stopped and searched the area and also found a credit card, a debit card, and $21 dollars in cash.

The driver's license has an address so I'll mail all this stuff to the owner tomorrow. Hopefully that buys me a little good karma to make up for my accidental atrocity committed on the next section of the Mohawk-Hudson bike path.

I was riding along when a chipmunk shot like a bullet from one side of the path to the other, directly in front of me. It was all a blur, I yelled "geezus!", and looked back as I rode away to see the chipmunk convulsing in the path right where I had just ridden through. Ahead of me I hear a woman hiking in a group of four gasp with extreme sadness. Not sure what to do, I keep riding. The woman continued to look very sad as I rode past, I made a sad face too. I probably should have stopped and gosh I don't know, removed the convulsing chipmunk from the center of the path but by the time I thought of it I was long gone. I have never run over an animal riding a bike before, not that I know of, this is a first for me. Less than five minutes later, another chipmunk shot across the path and I missed running it over by an inch. Strange times indeed!

Along the big descent on the Mohawk-Hudson path I found a nice batch of golden oyster mushrooms which made for a delicious mushroom/cheddar/garlic omelette when I got home.

7/1/2020 Update

I have to admit when I'm wrong. I revisited the fenced in area and the chain links there are significantly smaller than the one I tested on at home. A golf ball will definitely not fit through the spaces!

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