Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Finger Lakes Part 3 --- These ARE Waterfalls!

Roger here... Guess where we are?  Okay, the picture gave it away.  Niagara Falls!  Dianne had never seen them, and since Larry and Sharon offered to watch our dogs for the day, we decided to spend the day there.  Two hours in the car was a long drive, but I must admit, it was worth it.  During the drive, Dianne obsessed about how she was going to keep her feet dry and which of the two pairs of shoes that she brought along she should wear.  

Finding Niagara Falls State Park (where we parked) was amazingly simple.  I was expecting a hassle.  Since this was Dianne's day, she was in charge of determining the order of what would prove to be a 7 1/2 mile walk.  First stop (with passports in hand) --- the Rainbow Bridge to Canada.  It was a quick walk from the state park, and a simple walk across the bridge.  Dianne should have been in the picture above instead of me, since it was her first trip into Canada.  

 Our first glimpse of the falls was from the bridge. The American Falls on the left.  A portion of the Canadian Falls on the right.  Dianne commented that she thought they would be bigger.  She changed her mind later.

Our view from the bridge also gave us a great view of the Maid of the Mist cruising toward the falls.

After a simple trip through customs we strolled along the landscaped Canadian parkway.  Gardens on the right, water falls on the left.  It was a nice twenty minute walk to the edge of the Canadian Falls.

The view of the American Falls is actually better from the Canadian side.  The falls at the far right are called the Bridal Veil Falls.  Note the island that separates the two falls.  Luna Island is accessible by foot --- more on that later.

The American Falls are spectacular, but the Canadian Falls are better.  They are truly in the shape of a horseshoe, not just a curve, but a full horseshoe.  We seemed pretty tiny as we stood right next to the top as the water gushed over the edge.  

We waited patiently for a spot near the edge so I could get a picture of Dianne getting a good look at the Canadian Falls for the first time.  First views of the falls, first time in Canada.

On the return walk to the Rainbow Bridge we decided to have a quick lunch at a Tim Horton's restaurant at an outside table overlooking both waterfalls.  

Lunch done --- walking time.  The crossing back into the USA was simple, as was the return walk on the Rainbow Bridge.  We re-entered Niagara Falls State Park and hoofed across a bridge to Goat Island (in the middle of the Niagara River) and then another bridge to Luna Island (between Bridal Veil Falls and the American Falls.  The picture below shows the American Falls from Luna Island.

Below is the view from the other side of Luna Island where Bridal Veil Falls plunges into the rocks below.

Doesn't show in the photo , but there was a bright rainbow in the mist at the base of the falls.

Here is another shot of Bridal Veil Falls.  Note the people in yellow raincoats below.  That is the Cave of the Winds walking tour right next to the falls.  (The bold print in the next exchange does indicate shouting --- shouting over the roar of the falling water.)  "Hey Dianne, do you want to do that?"  Dianne's response, "Will my shoes get wet?"

My response, "Look below."  Dianne's response, "It looks like they will get wet.  I don't like wet feet. I only have one pair of extra shoes.  Let's do the Maid of the Mist instead."  My response, "OK."  Snicker, snicker... She thinks her feet will not get wet on the Maid of the Mist.

After leaving Luna Island, I suggested,  "Let's walk a little farther so we could see the Canadian Falls from a different perspective."  Dianne was beginning to tire, she whined, "We have already seen the Canadian Falls."  I responded, "We drove two hours to get here.  You can surely walk a little further to see something you have never seen before.  I promise you will not be sorry."  I won!  (A very rare occurrence)

The shot below gives a better perspective of the full half circle of the Canadian Falls.

It would be more than terrifying to be in this frothy green water just before falling into the abyss.

Top of the horseshoe falls from the other side

"Ok Dianne, pick up the pace.  The Maid of the Mist is only a couple of miles down the path."  (I really am pushing my luck here :-)

I have been to the falls twice, but had never ridden the Maid of the Mist.  I am very familiar with tourist traps and (in the back of my mind) thought that this probably fit into that category.  I could not have been more wrong.  $17 per person (worth every penny) and an elevator ride into the canyon, and we found ourselves on the dock ready to board.  If you look at the photo below, we claimed a spot on the lower level just above the Roman numeral VII.

The tourists from the Canadian version of the same experience waved to us as we headed toward the falls.

It seemed like seconds before we were taking on water from the American Falls.  (I hardly had my raincoat on.  In fact, it almost flew off in the wind.)  But, we really were not wet.  Wet (including wet shoes) would come later.

We were soon on our way to the Canadian Falls.  The pictures below were taken earlier in the day, but they give an accurate perspective of exactly where the boat stops in the center of the Canadian Falls.

This is the view just before the deluge.  Dianne now thinks that the falls are indeed gigantic.

I truly wish that we could have taken pictures during the time (seemed like an eternity) that we were parked in the center of the horseshoe.  It was an experience that I have never had before, and probably will never have again.  Looking to the right and looking to the left, all you could see was the white water cascading from above.  We were so very close to it.  Looking to the front, the vision was nothing but white mist.  Water blew into our faces in waves.  Dianne's shoes did indeed get wet, and so did mine.  If you use your imagination when viewing the photo below (taken through a plastic sandwich bag), you might be able to get a hint of the magnificent power of the falls.  Blue sky above, white water falling from every angle from an impossible height, water droplets everywhere.  The only things not portrayed are the strong winds and the thundering sound.

Dianne here:  I quipped to Roger after what seemed like 10 minutes of sitting in the loud whirlwind of water and mist "This boat captain is a machochist!"

I took a short 15-second video just to give an idea of the immense power of the water in the falls:

All righty then.... so after 7 1/2 miles of walking (and changing into dry shoes), we drove back to Larry and Sharon's to pick up Bandido and Tequila.  They didn't miss us while we were gone, as evidenced from the photo below.   The dogs were both exhausted from hiking in the countryside for most of the day, and after our own 7 1/2 mile trek, all four of us stumbled into the motor home for an early night.
Larry and four tired, happy dogs, theirs and ours.

Another wonderful day outdoors awaited us the next morning.

I had read about nearby scenic Letchworth State Park.  Independently, Sharon suggested that it would be a great place to hike and walk the dogs.  Larry opted to rest with Cassie (one of their cocker spaniels) who does not tolerate long hikes, while Sharon (with Wrigley), Dianne (with Tequila) and I (with Bandido) drove to the state park. 

 We stopped at the visitor's center to discuss a hike through the gorge before going on any of the trails.  The ranger suggested that we could see all three of the major water falls (starting with the lower falls) by taking trail 1 from the lower falls area.  We parked, walked toward the gorge and immediately saw a sign that stated, "lower falls view --- 127 steps"  Sharon and I consulted while looking at the map and determined that this must be the way.  

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.  The ranger did not tell us that those steps led to a dead end.  Oh, and Bandido was so excited about hiking that he literally pulled me down the steps while I leaned back to keep from being jerked to the bottom of the canyon.

They did lead us to a couple of nice views of the lower falls from the bottom of the canyon; however, we were dismayed (not a strong enough verb) to discover that we would immediately need to climb back up the steep 127 steps in order to find trail one.

After an exhaustion break, we headed through the woods (on trail one) along the canyon.  

Sharon and Wrigley seemed absolutely refreshed after the sojourn in and out of the canyon.  Well, the length of Wrigley's tongue may tell a different story.

Letchworth Canyon is known as the Grand Canyon of the East, and for good reason.  The views of the gorge along the trail were amazing.

It's a  l-o-n-g  way down!

After a nice walk that was mostly flat (a little up hill), we came upon a spectacular view of the middle falls.  

Another short walk led us to a view of the middle and upper falls.

A telephoto lens on the camera gives a better view of the upper falls.

Our goal was to find a historic residence, the Glen Iris Lodge, and then return to the parking lot.  We were pretty sure that we were close, so we opted to walk down a steep hill (after all those upward steps), knowing that we would have to go back up the trail.  Alas, the Inn was not immediately visible.  So, back up the trail we went.  We all decided we'd rather drive to the Glen Iris Lodge.  Note the stonework along the trail that was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the depression:  

The trip back up to the crest of the hill seemed easier than expected.  Then, the trip back down to the parking lot was a breeze (mostly gently downhill).  Total hike --- 4 and 1/2 miles (not including the 127 steps X 2). 

We drove to the Glen Iris Lodge, only to discover that we were extremely close to it where we turned back along the trail.  Oh well.

The view from the front of the historic house showcased the middle falls.

I watched the three dogs while Sharon and Dianne took a peek inside the house.  Bandido relaxed.  Wrigley sat at attention until Sharon returned.  Tequila kept an eye out for chipmunks since there were not lizards there.

"Don't bother me, mom, I'm lookin' for chipmunks!"

Dianne was really impressed by the woodwork inside the house.  

That evening Dianne snapped a picture of the bright pink sky at sunset.

This morning we took Larry and Sharon out to breakfast at nearby Cafe Sol to thank them for the wonderful time they had shown us this week.  

Good food.  Great company.  We are leaving the Finger Lakes tomorrow, but will see Larry and Sharon again in South Texas in November.  Happy hours await!

The pet picture of the day shows Dianne and her best hiking buddy, Tequila, along the trail at Letchworth State Park.  
Still smiling after 127 steps x 2, although Tequila looks a little tired!


Steve Conrad said...

What an outstanding post. Reminds me of when we were at Stone Mountain North Carolina together, except there was a little more water in your current falls!!!!! Great to see you two having so much fun!!

Nancy and Bill said...

Great Post!! We visited Niagara Falls 2 years ago and did take the Maid of the Mist ride. It was very hot that day and actually the "mist" felt wonderful;o)) Letchworth State Park is a hidden gem!! We camped there this year on our way to Maine. We hiked the entire gorge the day after a very heavy storm went through and the falls were amazing!!! You two have sure had a wonderful visit to the Finger Lakes:o))