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Great Walk Along a Great Canal

Wednesday, April 13 by silvia, West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance

Hats off to all 50 or so people who took part in TR2NB40 — a 40-mile walk from Trenton to New Brunswick along the D&R Canal on Saturday. Not all walked the entire route, but it sounds like everyone had a good time. We received two reports, one from WWBPA trustee Michael Ogg and another from WWBPA member Loretta Rice.

 “It was fun talking with others and learning about other walks such as The Great Saunter on May 7, a walk round Manhattan. The first section from the footbridge to Port Mercer can be a bit difficult in a wheelchair: the center of the path is grassy, which today was very muddy, and the gravel and sandy strips on either side aren’t quite wide enough for a wheelchair so one drive wheel was always on soft ground. But Port Mercer still appeared quite quickly. Here was the only big problem: there’s a guard rail on the bend but cars are always hitting it and it was impossible to get back onto the towpath (I’ve written to the Park Superintendent about this). I had to go about 600 yards down Quaker Rd which was not fun as there’s no shoulder and cars go quite fast. Two brave walkers accompanied me. At the bend it was sort of possible to get back onto the towpath. I wouldn’t have done it by myself as the short stretch was dangerously steep but two more walkers made sure I didn’t tip backward.

The towpath from here was better – except where it wasn’t. It was all fine gravel, which was good, but in some places was 2″ of mud, which wasn’t good. The only way to get through these sections was at full speed. (My wheelchair badly needs a car wash.) When I arrived at Turning Basin, the extra resistance from the mud had drained my batteries too much and continuing was out of the question. I bade my farewells and went up Alexander Road to the station.”

“The day started off well, at 10 a.m. when I left my house to pick up walkers at the Princeton Junction train station, and it was clear that the weather was going to be perfect for walking and the train was on time.  I picked up four walkers who came in from various points on the Northeast Corridor line and drove to Turning Basin/Alexander to join the Freewalkers on the 40 mile D&R walk.  Those walkers who started in Trenton were at Turning Basin in good time, most of them arriving before 11 a.m. A few walkers broke off their walk at this point.  After a 15-minute break for water and snacks provided by cheerful volunteers from the East Coast Greenway, I joined the group and started walking.  This was only my second time crossing at Alexander since the crossing lights were installed and when I happily activated them, one of the walkers commented, “Hey, they actually work!” as cars stopped and allowed us to cross.  As someone who drives across this  bridge every day on the way to work, it’s a very different perspective from a pedestrian view; when walking, it’s difficult to tell if the lights have actually begun to flash.  I was surprised by this as when viewed from inside a car, the lights are amazingly bright.

Walking on the canal trails is always such a joy, the scenery is beautiful and the clay path makes walking easy on the joints, the only minor negative on this day being the previous day and night of rain created quite a few puddles to be navigated on the sections between Alexander and Kingston.  Most walkers kept up a pace between 3 and 4 miles an hour, a comfortable pace that made it easy to carry on a conversation.  The not-quite-six miles to Kingston flew by as I chatted with various walkers along the way.  On reaching Kingston, the walkers took a break for lunch at the parking lot near the Lock Keeper’s house.  The East Coast Greenway volunteers again provided snacks, water and information on the Greenway.  Walkers shared stories, ate their lunches, changed socks, a few tended to a blister or two and others sat on the stone wall soaking up the sun. I walked the next section to Rocky Hill for a total of 7.5 miles and broke off my walk there; I am recuperating from a foot injury and am easing myself back into to long-distance walking and got a ride to back to the Turning Basin parking lot.

This was a truly enjoyable event and I’m looking forward to challenging myself further by participating in the 50-mile walk in May. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to complete 20 miles of that walk.”

Yes, there are more walks planned. This walk and others are organized by Freewalkers, who are challenging all to walk 100 miles across New Jersey using the East Coast Greenway.

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