A blue moon it isn’t really blue but is the color of any other moon. It is a rare occurrence; the fact that it is a full moon that appears for the second time in a single month is what makes it so unusual. The phenomenon has given rise to many popular legends including a famous ballad and most recently a light, wheat beer normally consumed with a slice of orange. To Jeannie Wolcott, proprietress of Scooter’s Bar in Forestport the combination of a blue moon, the Forestport Reservoir, a warm last night in August and friendship with a number of people in four different hiking and kayaking clubs called for a moonlight canoe/kayak followed by a party.
Members of the Utica Tramp and Trail Club, Go With the Flow Kayakers, the G.E. Ski Club and Bonnie Sanderson’s Women on Water responded in droves to Jeannie’s siren call, a drove being a number slightly in excess of 60 people, allowing for pairs of paddlers in each canoe.
The Black River originates in wild country in the south-central Adirondacks. Many years ago a series of dams was constructed to provide a constant water supply for the summit level of the Erie Canal and to insure that water-powered mills further down the river could continue to operate even under drought conditions. Near the source, two of these dams created North and South Lakes and further down a larger dam formed Kayuta Lake. About a mile and a half below the Kayuta dam a fourth dam in the village of Forestport provides a much smaller reservoir to direct water into the Feeder Canal that fed the Black River Canal and eventually flowed into the Erie at Rome. The Feeder Canal still exists as far as Boonville and is a wonderful route for a ten-mile float by kayak or canoe.
Our Blue Moon Kayak began at a launch site near the entrance to the feeder canal and ended at the Kayuta Lake dam for a round trip of about three miles. When we put in around seven O Clock the sun was still bright although some gathering clouds made us apprehensive about predicted thunderstorms. The reservoir gradually narrows as low, pine-adorned hills enclose it. After we reached the Kayuta dam our 60-boat flotilla waited none too patiently for the sun to set. Dusk fell and headlamps and flashlights began to wink in the boats. Still, the blue moon refused to appear. Realizing that the hills would obscure our view we began paddling slowly back to the main reservoir. Suddenly someone shouted, “There it is!” and sure enough, between a cleft in the pines a huge orange ball began to ascend, creating a Moon River in the glass-still water. Soon, as the ballad tells us “The moon had turned to gold” and the lake was brightly lit, obviating the need for headlamps.
We paddled back to the launch site, walked over the Black River bridges and crowded into Scooters to listen to a live band, and to quaff you guessed it- a Blue Moon with Slice of Orange. Did the Band play “Blue Moon? " Maybe, but I didn’t hear it. Many thanks to Jeannie for planning and executing a wonderful evening and to Paul Fortin for co-leading the paddle.
Launching the Boats
Feeder Canal Entrance
Rt. 28 Bridge