Saturday, April 3, 2010

April 2: First Hike of the Year

Today my daughters and I took our first hike of the year.  We chose a difficult hike - the Niagara Gorge. The elevation of the Gorge is approximately 200 feet, and the terrain is steep and rocky.  To access the trail, we descended a steep  metal staircase (with 80 steps - we counted!)

We hiked all the way down to the Niagara river and continued along the large slabs of rock that formed the bank.  Across the water we could see the United States, as this river is the body of water that forms part of the border dividing the US and Canada.  The Gorge was formed thousands of years ago when the water rushing over Niagara Falls eroded the rocks and created the path of the Niagara River.

The trail had a lot of interesting crevices that you had to go through.  It gave you this really interesting moment of feeling like you were entering somewhere very special.  Being among all the big stones felt sort of prehistoric.

For particularly steep declines there were a few metal staircases at the first part of the trail.  This is my big bum going down one of those sets of stairs.

Mostly there were these cool stone stairways, that, although they were man made, looked like a natural part of the area.  If your shoes got damp or muddy they were really slippery - I can't imagine descending them in the winter or damp weather!

We took a break by the water.  The girls took off their shoes because they thought it would be refreshing to dip their feet in.  Of course, the water was just above freezing so it was a bit more frigid than refreshing!

Once we got going again, it was apparent that most people turned back after getting to the bottom.  The next section of the trail was not as well maintained.  Lots of loose rocks were everywhere and the going was precarious.  We were determined to hike all the way to the whirlpool, so we kept going, although progress was much slower through this part.

Finally we made it and took another well deserved rest sitting on a big rock with our shoes off, eating grapes and watching the aero-car going back and forth above the whirlpool.

On the way back, the kids took refuge in a cave to cool off.

This hike was different from most we've done, as you hiked down first and the return trip was all uphill.  We took a different trail to return, and it was steep and winding.  I'm apparently in rather poor cardiovascular shape, despite all the walking, because I had to stop a couple of times and catch my breath.

This is the point at which I decided I might die before I made it to the car.  Don't let the photo fool you - the trail disappears around that corner and keeps winding on up.

And don't forget, we still had to go up the 80-step staircase to get to the car! (pictured above)  It was much harder going up than down!!!

I think I must've burned about 10 billion calories.  I was totally beat, but we've already decided to go hiking again on Monday!

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