21 August 2011

"Our Thing"

It’s fun to have all these nice places with waterfalls nearby. Waterfalls have always kind of been ‘our thing’ – when we were dating while I was living in San Diego and Michael was at BYU for the summer, Michael came and visited me and my family while we were on a little trip in Mammoth, and we all hiked to Nevada Falls in Yosemite.

Then when we were both back up at BYU we went on a hike with a big group of friends to Stewart Falls in Provo Canyon, and Michael surprised me by arranging to have our friends wait at the base of the falls while we hiked up to the higher part of the falls and he proposed to me.

And we went back and hiked up to Stewart Falls a second time with a couple of friends after Kolby was born.  

We didn’t have the chance to visit any waterfalls in Wisconsin, but when we were in Utah for Michael’s intern year we went to Donut Falls one time with my mom, Matthew, Grandma Faun, and our family, which was a fun hike.

And ever since coming here to New York, hiking to waterfalls and cascades has been our thing. We try to go on hikes on any Saturday when we have a little free time, and our hikes often take us to places where we can enjoy getting wet. Our long-time favorite here has been Grimes Glen in Naples – we just love the fact that even though there are always other people hiking there too, it is rather secluded and almost feels like a secret. It feels like it’s not a well-known place, since there aren’t paved trails and lots of regulations about where you can and can’t go. We’ve tried to get to Grimes Glen each summer since we moved here, and even though it’s a relatively short hike, we can spend hours wading upriver on our way to the two main waterfalls, having fun finding lots of little pools to get wet in.

Then we recently went to Stony Brook state park for the first time, and we loved it there, it might be our new favorite. We spent about 3 hours walking up through the water and playing in the pools at each waterfall, and then the hike back to the car on the trail took only about half an hour.


Letchworth state park has some cool looking waterfalls (it’s known by many as “the Grand Canyon of the East”), although we prefer the places where you can actually go and get wet, rather than just hiking around the rim of the gorges, but it is a very pretty place with some fun hiking. 

Watkins Glen is absolutely beautiful, with all of the trails that are cut into the rock, and the cool old rock bridges.  You can’t get into the water there either, but it’s still an amazing hike.  I went there when I was 13 on a trip with my grandma, and I remembered how cool it was and wanted to take our family back there, so it was lots of fun to go there camping with several friends last summer.  (Look, I even found an old photo from that first trip with my grandma.)

There’s Corbett’s Glen, of course, where we recently took my brother Aaron, and where we have enjoyed going at least once a summer since we moved here, since it’s so close to where we live.  Not really waterfalls, more like cascades – but there are some spots where the water drops at least 3 or 4 feet, and it’s more fun each year as our kids get old enough that we’re not as worried about them falling in while they’re wading.  Oh, and the cool stone tunnel that you walk through to get to the water is pretty nifty – we read somewhere that the train that carried Abraham Lincoln’s body for his funeral crossed over that old bridge.

And, I guess we can’t leave out Niagara Falls.  I visited it on that same trip with my grandma when I was 13, and then we took our family on the way back from a work conference that Michael attended in Toronto last year.  Of course, those falls are on a whole different scale, but we spent a very fun day in Niagara (on the Canadian side, which everyone says is the best).  The boat ride to the base of the falls was probably the coolest part, and the little tunnel where you could walk out kind of behind and to the side of the falls was pretty cool too. 

And right in the center of downtown Rochester there are some waterfalls.  High Falls is not far from parking, and you can walk out on a pedestrian bridge to see it.  (And the archaeologist in me was enticed by the nearby stone foundations of the old factories that used the energy from the falls when Rochester was a new city).  But you couldn’t really call that a hike as much as a short stroll from the parking lot.  The hike to the lower falls was a little more fun, with a rather secluded-feeling little trail through a strip of garden through the middle of the city, but the view of the Lower Falls from the trail was rather difficult to see (from where we were, we could see that some people had gone through the water up to the base of the falls, which looked like something that would be really fun to do, if you didn’t have kids along).  

And for our camping trip this summer with the Silvas, we went down to some fun waterfalls near Ithaca, NY.  We camped near Buttermilk Falls, which was fun.  The swimming area at the base of the lower falls was a little too cold for our boys, so we didn’t last long there.  But the hike was fun.  At first the hiking trail veered away from the river, and we didn’t get much of a view, but then it came back and there were lots of opportunities to be near the water, with little falls and pretty pools the rest of the way up.  We stopped at the first area where the trail came to the water, and had tons of fun wading, the boys slid down a smooth part of a waterfall, Brax fetched sticks in the water, and Michael swam in a deeper pool.  Then when we got back on the trail and walked about 10 feet further, we saw that it said no swimming (rather odd to place that sign further up the trail where you can’t see it if you are coming from below).  But I have to admit that after that we did hop in a few more places even after seeing the signs, although less than at the first spot. 

On the same trip, after Buttermilk Falls, we went to nearby Treman state park where there was a nicer swimming area where you could swim right up to the base of the falls, but dogs aren’t allowed near the area at all, and we learned from experience that tying a dog’s leash to a tree just outside the swimming area is also not allowed (and since it’s illegal to leave a dog in a car, and we knew we weren’t allowed to leave a dog alone at the campsite, we didn’t get to spend long there).  So we drove up and went on a little hike to the falls there, which was fun.  It was reminiscent of the hike at Watkin’s Glen – with some stone bridges and trails cut right into the stone gorge (and rules not to get into the water), but not quite as impressive as Watkin’s Glen, in my opinion – but still really cool.  There were lots of steep steps, which was a little tiring with a bunch of small boys after already hiking and swimming all day, but it was a nice hike.  (Too bad we didn’t end up taking any photos at that one – I found these online).

The next day we went to Taughannock Falls state park, which was not far from where we had camped either.  This was probably my favorite of the trip, just because once you get past the first main falls at the base of the trail, you can walk up the shallow stream bed all the way to the large falls.  We spent more time wading up the streambed than actually looking at the falls themselves, which are taller (but much more narrow) than Niagara Falls (but there’s no swimming at the base of the falls, where people have died from rock falls in the past).  The streambed was covered in large, flat stones, which made wading nice.  Plus, we finally broke down and got water shoes for everyone, so it made it easier to walk, plus it was nice not to have to worry about chasing runaway flip flops down the stream.  We stopped at one spot where there was a pool, and Brax jumped in and swam to fetch sticks over and over, while the boys waded in.  It was perfect, because at least at that time of the year the stream was shallow enough in most spots that we didn’t have to worry about holding the boys’ hands at all times for fear they would fall in too deep.  (I’ll post more photos from our camping trip later, but here are a couple of the falls and rivers we enjoyed there).

And I just found some info online about two more waterfalls that I definitely want to hit while we are here (I’m trying to figure out if we can squeeze a couple more waterfall trips in on Saturdays in September before it gets too cold for it). But I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll get a chance to try out Barnes Creek Gully in Canandaigua and Tannery Creek Falls in Naples, NY (here are a couple pictures I’ve found of each of these online).
Barnes Creek Gully:

Tannery Creek Falls:

I looked online, and there are also some waterfalls within a day trip of San Diego, so we should still be able to enjoy our waterfalls after we move. These websites, for instance, list many more waterfalls in southern California than I knew existed, so that’s nice to find out about: http://www.world-of-waterfalls.com/california-southern-california.html and http://www.summitpost.org/waterfalls-of-southern-california/images/p-409158/p1

And I am really looking forward to a few years down the road when our boys are old enough to do the hike to the waterfalls at Havasupai in the Grand Canyon – Michael went as a teenager and loved it, and my parents and brothers have been, but I’ve never been there before. But I've heard the hike is not an easy one -- I'll have to research it a bit, but I'm thinking the youngest of our kids needs to be at least 8 or so before we can do this one.  These photos are from the internet too, (except the first one, of course – this is my dad and my brother, Matthew, several years ago).

Another waterfall I’d like to take our family to someday is one that my family hiked to on our big family trip to Hawaii my senior year of high school. I couldn’t remember the name of the falls, or even which island it was on, but it was a very tall waterfall, and I remember a long, steep, slippery, muddy hike down to the pool at the bottom of the falls, but it was so worth it! (And if you happened to have seen the movie, ‘The Testaments’, there is a shot in the movie as the characters are walking through the jungle at one point that I’m pretty sure is the same waterfall we hiked to). Anyway, I did some searching online, and from pictures I found, I think there’s a chance it may have been Wailua Falls on the island of Kaua’i, but many of the pictures I found of Hawaiian waterfalls online looked similar, and it’s been a while, so I can’t say for sure (I looked, and can’t find any of my own photos from that trip – the photos I remember taking must have been on my parents’ camera). I’ll have to ask my parents and find out the name of it for sure.

So, we’ve probably got a lot of years of hiking to waterfalls ahead of us.  But I was telling Michael, that I think maybe our new ‘thing’ once we are in California should be tide pools – plus we’d get plenty of use out of our water shoes with that too.  :)


Hang Turner said...

the waterfalls pictures are so beautiful! thanks for sharing =)

Hang Turner said...

the waterfalls pictures are so beautiful! thanks for sharing =)