Soaked to the Skin

Ask anyone to has been to New England what the most awesome part of their journey has been and most, including us, will emphatically respond “Niagara Falls! Of course!”. Previously, I wrote short articles on manmade structures that overwhelmed our senses but here is a natural (although modified somewhat by man) phenom that continues to impress each generation.

From our hotel window, we saw the upper Niagara River and a hint of falls. Notice the rainbow. The buildings are in Canada.
The Niagara River rushes on its way to certain death if water molecules ever die.

As you probably know, there are two falls – the American Falls and the Canadian or Horseshoe Falls. Each drops 220 or so feet although the Canadian Falls has over eight times the water flow at 675,000 cubic feet per second. That’s a lot of water! Immediately below the falls, the surging water has dug a 200 foot deep trench so the pool depth is equal to the falls height. We decided we wanted to approach the falls, get wet, and be astounded and we did and we were! The Maid of the Mist is a series of heavy duty three decker boats holding over a hundred people and we perched ourselves at water level right at the bow.

The Maid of the Mist charges up the Lower Niagara River to its fateful destination.
The passenger elevator down to river level gives us a preliminary indication of how high these falls are.
We are ready! Bring it on! Rainbow Bridge to Canada in background (Closed!).
Both falls are just around the corner. Canadian Falls in distance and American Falls to the left.
American Falls looms ahead!

The short trip to the falls passed the American Falls and waddled right up to the edge of the Canadian Falls and I do mean right up to the edge! While the American version is filled with rocks and boulders, the larger cascade is straight down into the waiting turbulent pool. I have never been on the beach in a hurricane and I don’t want to ever be, but the wind force and water spray had to approach hurricane force or so it seemed. Visibility was near zero but I could see a wedged log over 200 feet higher at the watery upper ledge and that was the only sense of stability as it appeared we were constantly surging forward but the log never moved so we were stationary for what seemed like eons but was perhaps 7 or 8 minutes.

American Falls from 500 feet away.
American Falls in all its glory… remember the water depth just in front of the boulders is another 200 feet deep!
The Canadian Falls is looming ahead.
As we got closer to the bigger falls, photos became impossible. Seeing became impossible. Standing straight up became impossible.
Somehow we survived!

Finally, we turned around and headed back and despite full length hooded raincoats, we were soaked! As our pulse rate dropped slightly, I remembered that several people have rolled over the falls in a proverbial barrel and some of them somehow survived but I don’t think they ever wanted to do it a second time. Several whirlpools have established themselves downstream and soundings indicate that the depth is 110 feet at each location. So much water!

The only negative was the 2 1/2 hour wait in line even though we purchased our $25 boat tickets online. A 175 foot tall elevator takes you from the top of the cliff to boat side and several boats are working both the American side and the Canadian side. As evening approached, huge multicolored floodlights bathe both falls in hues of blue, red, and green but from the American side, we can not see the full color effect as the lights are on the northern shore and Americans can no longer travel to Canada except in emergencies and viewing the lit falls at night is not on that list.

Back on Terra Firma, we marveled at our experience.

The Niagara Falls State Park was established in 1885 and the grounds are well maintained with mature trees, patches of flowers, and several pedestrian bridges above the falls. The rapids above the falls is a scenic event in itself and the clear water is swift and deep as Lake Erie water will soon merge with Lake Ontario water 200+ feet lower in elevation. I would not like to be a fish in the upper Niagara River. Think about it. As a fish, you don’t know that the falls exist and as you merrily jump from one small rapids to another, suddenly you are in freefall without a barrel!

Early evening from on top of the falls. I got my socks wet from wading out for this picture. Not really.

We really enjoyed our day long visit to Niagara and would recommend it as a must stop on any trip in the area but pack your own food as open restaurants are scarce and menus limited. Thanks for riding the Maid in the Mist with us!

1 thought on “Soaked to the Skin

  1. It’s been a LONG time since I visited N.F. Beautiful! Thanks

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