NIAGARA

We left my dad’s house Friday afternoon around 12pm. It took us just a little over 7 hours to get to the border in Buffalo. The lines weren’t too bad and we were asked about everyone’s residency status (more on that later). I can’t help but to always notice the amount of bugs that are killed on these trips. Sorry about the dirty windshield picture!

After seamlessly crossing the border we headed to our Airbnb. We quickly checked in and dropped off our things. It was 8:00pm and we were hungry. Not too far from us there was a Quesada Burritos and Tacos. This vendor was one of many I noticed on that trip that sold meat alternatives. Thank you Canada for getting with the program and giving me options! Burritos in bellies and it was time to go to the falls.

We parked in a lot across the street from the falls. It converts to $14.87 USD. With my Amex I don’t pay an exchange fee either. Learn more about that here. It was easy to get to Horseshoe Falls where we planned on watching the fireworks from. There was a full moon out that night too.

We planned our day specifically for that Friday as it was the first fireworks show of the summer 2019 season. It started at 10pm sharp and we wanted to make sure we didn’t miss it. It normally last a few minutes but being the first of the season it was about 15 minutes long. There was music accompanying the fireworks which seemed to dance along to the rythym. Below you’ll see my dad and stepmom watching the fireworks. It was 46 degrees that night so we were all wearing hats and hoodies.

The next morning my dad and I picked up donuts and coffee for breakfast at a Tim Horton’s. They are the equivalent of Dunkin Donuts in New York and have just as many. They open early so we were out the door by 8am while everyone else finished getting ready. Once we ate and all headed out, we parked in the same lot as the night before.

We purchased bundled tickets at the Niagara Parks ticket office. Our bundle is called “The Classic” and it included the following attractions:

We walked along the water for 20 minutes to reach the Hornblower cruise. The line seemed long but almost everyone in front of us got on the next boat. Leaving us to be the first ones on when it came back. We ended up in the edge of the top deck with unobstructed views. Can you see the excitement in our faces for having scored great seats to the waterfall show?

The boat goes past the base of the American Falls as it heads to the base of Horseshoe Falls. The total travel time on the boat is about 30 minutes. I kept my phone out as long as I could. Not wanting to damage it I put it away when we were at the base of Horseshoe. You get to a point where you think the boat it going to go right into the water because it gets so close. And thank God for water proof boots and ponchos. You get soaked on this boat standing on those decks. It would not have been fun to squish around the rest of the day!

Next on the list was Niagara’s Fury. We walked 20 minutes back to where we started. The WeGo buses can also take you from one site to the next if the walking gets to be too much. Thank you to the hot dog vendor outside because that was lunch lol.

They don’t allow people to film or take pictures once inside so I’ll quickly describe this attraction. It’s a family friendly cartoon introduction to the Falls and then a 4D experience with snow, thunder, rain, etc. It’s definitely a more entertaining way to learn how the falls were formed.

Afterwards we went to Journey Behind the Falls. These tunnels are 130 years old and located 125 feet below the building. There are two windows directly behind the waterfall and the observation platform at the base of the waterfall. The sound of the water crashing down is intense. You can hear it’s power rumbling through the tunnels. It was a steady reminder that water is a force to be reckoned with.

After removing the last of the ponchos we headed to the car. It was time to switch out of our boots and into dryer footwear.

We walked over to the WeGo bus terminal and waited for the green line that would take us to White Water Walk. Remember, the bundles we purchased included access to these buses. The bus makes several stops at other listed attractions and the total ride lasted about 20 minutes.

There’s an elevator that takes you to the base of the gorge closest to the water on the Canadian side. White Water Walk is a half mile round trip walk on a boardwalk. There are plaques and viewpoints along the way to lear about the area you’re walking in. These rapids are class VI. Meaning: “runs of this classification are rarely attempted and often exemplify the extremes of difficulty, unpredictability and danger. The consequences of errors are severe and rescue may be impossible.” Standing there watching the water go by you can see why it’s classified as such.

We took the green line back to the parking lot and stopped at an A&W for dinner. We then drove back to the AirBnB to watch a movie. My feet had done enough walking for the day and I wanted to rest up before tomorrow’s drive.

The next morning it was Tim Horton’s coffees and pastries again. YUM! We left the airbnb and headed south. Ahh yes, I mentioned the residency status: We were informed at the border that it’s not suffice to travel with just a passport if you’re a green card holder. You have to have your resident card with you as well. Otherwise it’s a hefty fine. We didn’t have that problem because my dad made sure to bring them. But it could have really ruined an otherwise awesome trip. So if you plan on crossing the border, remember to carry all your proper identification!

And that ladies and gentlemen is how we spent a quick weekend in Niagara, Canada. It’s a shame the long drive deters so many people I know personally from visiting. If you’re willing to take the drive though, it’s worth it!

“I wish that road trips could pay my bills.”

-unknown

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KANARRA FALLS

GPS: 37.539003, -113.174801

TIME: 2.5 H

LENGTH: 3.2 MILES RT

DATE: APRIL 24, 2019

🗣 Not all hikes are created equal!

We were done with the strenuous Angels Landing and took a nice stroll on Riverside Walk that day. However, it was early enough in the day where we could fit in another hike and still make it to our AirBnb in a decent time.

Having done so much research I had yellow stars scattered all along my offline google maps. So I started clicking around and found Kanarra Falls. It was perfect. Short enough to complete (the section we wanted to do is only 3.2 miles long RT) and on the way to our next destination for the night. I was also bewitched by the idea that we’d be alone in a narrow canyon and it’s awesome waterfall. When we arrived there were only two other cars in the lot and one was pulling out.

There’s a $12.00 per person fee at the trailhead just up the stairs from the parking lot. I had my first red flag disguised as a pleasant surprise when we saw the permit station employee. He was getting ready to close and saw that we were on the fence about paying $12 per person ($48 total). So he did us a huge favor and told us to pay $12 for parking and all four of us could get access to the trailhead. He must have known we wouldn’t make it all the way as the water was rising. Instead of questioning his decision to hook us up I took it and ran with it. He gave us a small map and it looked pretty straight forward.

At the entrance there are also signs to warn hikers about the rattle snakes. More on that later…

Excited to potentially do three hikes in a day we started our trek. The first 10 minutes of it are on a road. At the top of the hill there are facilities. And just past the facilities is the first encounter with water. Be prepared to wet your shoes, socks and pants. We crossed and were on our way. Below you’ll see Nicole leading the way and CJ and Tony behind me. We walked next to the creek the whole time.

Soon after however, we realized there aren’t any trail markers. That wouldn’t have been a problem where the ground is worn and the trail is easy to follow. We obviously know from high school geography that this creek leads into the falls. The problem arrises when there are false paths intersecting the creek and trail and you’re not sure which way to go.

We crossed the creek three or four times. We made it to what I believe is the portion where the rest of the hike is done in the creek. But at this point the water was really cold and the current was strong. The water was above knee level in certain spots for me (I’m 5’5″) and I was uncomfortable with the idea that it would only get deeper. We stopped and talked about the pros/cons of continuing for a while. Preferring to be better safe than sorry, we decided to turn around.

I realize as I write this that I don’t have video of the deeper creek crossings and I know exactly why. I was more scared concerned with not getting swept away by the current than taking pictures or videos for “the gram.” It was not worth risking a steady foot placement.

Now let me tell you about the snake. At one point on our way out I was walking right next to Tony. He said something along the lines of “what is that?” and immediately we heard a rattle. If you’ve never had the experience of hearing it in person, here’s a LINK. We were out of there so fast! I could not believe how close it was to the trail itself. That sound was ONE BIG NOPE! Almost running to the car, I made sure to stay away from the shrubbery at the sides of the trail.

Then we arrived at the first creek crossing we had at the trailhead, which was also the shallowest of them all. It was ankle deep when we started. By the time we were leaving it was just below Tony’s knees (he’s 6’1″). And the crossing itself was much wider than we initially saw it. The pictures below are screen grabs from a GoPro video I have of everyone crossing at the trailhead on the way out.

Nicole right before her foot drops into the deeper section
Tony crossing almost knee deep waters

By the end of our trip we named this the hike that shall not be named. Between the lack of trail markers, rattle snake and strong currents I felt defeated.

Finally in the car and out of our wet shoes, I pulled out of our parking spot. I couldn’t believe that just across the road, not even 20 ft. from us, there were three very large deers making their way down. After what felt like a very rough afternoon, it was calming to see them walking. Side by side, unbothered by the presence of our vehicle. It reminded me why we were out there in the first place.

I’ve said it in other posts and I’ll say it again. I can become so concerned with the destination of a hike that I forget about the actual hike itself. The journey that afternoon was adventurous! It gave us higher water levels to really concentrate balancing in, adrenaline from hearing the rattle snake, and conviction to complete every hike thereafter.

For the future, when I attempt this hike again, I will make sure to check out their website first. It looks like they are attempting to update hikers on a more daily basis. This would be super helpful for day-of hikers looking to check water levels and currents.

And yes, you read that correctly. When I attempt this hike again. It’s the first time I’ve prematurely turned around on a hike. Maybe it won’t be the last either. But I haven’t crossed it off my list and when I’m in the area again I’m determined to conquer it.

“The will to conquer is the first condition of victory.”

Ferdinand Foch

MARYMERE FALLS

HEY READER! Looking for the sentimental exciting (maybe boring?) stuff from our trip to the PNW?! Check out THIS post for all the feels regarding this trip.

For those of you strictly interested in Marymere Falls, here you go:

GPS: 48.056716, -123.787458

DATE: MARCH 7 2019

TIME: 1.5 HOURS

LENGTH: 1.8 MILES

GETTING THERE

We drove to the storm king ranger station. As usual I assume I don’t get service in the woods. So just in case I had my trusty google maps download the area onto my offline maps. It was only a 30 minute drive from the Super 8 (20 miles west on the 101). Very convenient!

We parked right in front of the ranger station. You can see it off to the right of this picture. You can see a tiny sliver of Lake Crescent in the background. And to the left of this picture there are some bathrooms. Parks with facilities are always a win in my book.

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MARYMERE FALLS

We walked right passed the sign and past the closed ranger station to begin our hike. There are signs for the hike and if you miss those, the ground is very worn from where everyone else walked. It’s hard to miss. Don’t forget to look up at these amazing trees while exploring this hike. They’re huge!

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After walking for some minutes you’ll come across this tunnel. It’s meant to keep hikers looking for Storm King and Marymere falls off the road. It isn’t very long or creepy in the daylight hours. Walking through there at night however is a different story.

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I wasn’t exaggerating about these trees. Can you see my sister?

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The “snow” was actually just straight up ice. It was slippery and definitely will add to your overall hike time. Walking on the edges of the dirty snow was our plan but the truth is we should just invest in some traction attachments. I’ve ended up on icy trails on more than one occasion now, including winter hikes in NY.

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And then there was the sign. Originally I had planned to conquer the Storm King Trail. It’s approximately a 2000ft. elevation gain hike and has views worth the sweat. My sister and I, having done Breakneck Ridge back home several times, would have attempted this without hesitation (my favorite hiking blog has a great post on Breakneck HERE). However, the ice added a new element we were not prepared for. I like to push my body’s limits, but I don’t like to risk injury. So we snapped a picture and kept walking toward the falls. Something tells me I’ll be back one day when the snow and ice have melted…

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After a while you’ll come across this cute sign letting you know you are on your way to see something awesome!

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You come across this first bridge. This one is made of metal and wide enough to fit 2-3 people across. We made sure to have great foot placement as it was very slippery.

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From the area of the first bridge you can see the second bridge you’ll be crossing shortly.

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The second bridge is wooden and very narrow. One person at a time narrow. Again, watching our footing we trekked across and no one slipped. Thank God!

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After crossing the wooden bridge you start ascending towards the falls loop. I have to stress how tense our legs were here. We knew we were going to have a hard time coming down because it was so slippery going up. My sister is actually placing her feet in grooves in the ice to make her way up.

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After finding the first flat-ish portion she’s turning around to check on me. We had a brief discussion about whether it was worth ascending the ice to see the falls. We luckily decided on continuing. We made that decision because there are banisters the entire way up and we could use them to stay upright.

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You’ll come across this sign pointing to the left for the one way loop. You’re almost there!!!

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As you walk on the loop, the bend doesn’t let you see the falls. But you can definitely hear them.

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There are two portions to the Marymere falls. But the top one… WOW!

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I stole this one from my sister’s SnapChat 🙂

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And this one from my GoPro is actually where someone dimmed the light. It happened so quickly it was alarming. It went from perfect daylight to darkness in a matter of minutes. It doesn’t help that the sun probably went lower than the mountains around us and the trees make a very dark canopy.

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Needless to say, I have zero pictures of our descent on the ice. I needed both hands to hold on to the wooden guard rails at the speed we were going. But I found an instagram post that can give you an idea of what it was like HERE. It’s a 30 second video. We didn’t “snowboard it” like he did, but it was intense! I mean just look at how dark the trail got. And we were the ONLY TWO people on that trail.

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Haha!!! This picture makes me laugh because its lack of focus shows how fast we were walking at this point. No time for pictures. We had headlamps with us just in case, but I’m no fan of the dark. We were moving out there lol.

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By the time we reached our car at 6:45pm this is what that same sign from earlier in the afternoon looked like from the car.

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Ice and darkness were interesting to experience in what felt like the middle of no where. No other hikers around and the whole place was ours. I don’t regret skipping the Storm King trail seeing how hard the Marymere falls loop was coming down. And that was with guard rails. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like having darkness descend on us while climbing down Storm King. Can you say scary?

Don’t get me wrong, this hike was so much fun! And on our first day in the Pacific North West it definitely set the tone for the adventures to come that weekend. I have a post of all the fun things we did in the PNW HERE. Check it out 🙂

“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”

-Sir Edmund Hillary