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Chasing waterfalls can pay off in several ways

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There is something about the waterfalls. I can’t get enough. Part of that is because it’s almost always very cool around a waterfall, and I like very cool and don’t like very hot. But that’s only part of it.

The sound, the spray, the wind, the trees and the hills. The rocks.

My beloved wife, Marsha, and I had the privilege of taking a trip to Kauai a few years ago with our dear friends Professor Palette and his wife, Sue. On this trip, we took a helicopter ride to the top of an ancient volcano which bears the title of the rainiest place on Earth. Because it almost never stops raining, there are waterfalls lining the entire crater. Hundreds of them, cascading into the crater. It was amazing to sit in this helicopter hovering in the center of the crater and look in any direction to see dozens and dozens of waterfalls at once.

The upper peninsula is loaded with waterfalls. A few years ago, Marsha and I wandered all around the UP, going from one waterfall to another. Fortunately, she loves them too. We don’t always agree on such things.

She, for example, loves warm, sunny beaches. I don’t, unless there are plenty of flat rocks to jump on or big waves that I can body surf on. She’s not, for some reason, a rock skipper or a body surfer. Pity. The two hobbies make the beaches tolerable.

Cascades, however – we agree.

Perhaps the best place to see waterfalls is in New York City. There is the little one – Niagara. Keep going to the Finger Lakes and they’re everywhere. We recently took a trip to NYC for Marsha’s high school reunion and managed to see a few dozen waterfalls.

Visiting most of the waterfalls in the Finger Lakes region requires commitment, time, strong legs and lungs. Take for example Rainbow Falls at Watkins Glen.

You have to walk from the lower edge of a deep, deep gorge, climbing upstream with cliffs towering on both sides and water tumbling down the gorge, creating dozens of waterfalls as they tumble over the rocky ground. It requires many uphill climbs, often steep, with sometimes stairs provided by the park service and sometimes a rocky path.

The views along the way are spectacular and the weather is nice and cool in the deep ravine.

We did another similar hike through Buttermilk Falls Gorge near Ithaca. Fantastic! Sweaty, out of breath, a painful walk for the legs, but just amazing.

I always take a lot of photos when I visit waterfalls. I do this so that I can send them to my daughter, Jill, who decades later is still complaining about her childhood day when I showed her around five different waterfalls in the Finger Lakes region in one day.

A few months ago we spent a week with Jill and her family in the Blue Ridge Mountains. We took her little ones, George and Alice, to see waterfalls. This usually meant we wore them. Marsha was also present on one of the hikes, broken bones and all that because she had recently been in a bicycle accident – she struggled along the way with a walker, but she was successful.

Jill, little George (then 2 years old) and I hiked longer to see a waterfall. We drove for miles on a 2 lane road and then drove a few more miles. George is a big boy for his age and Jill managed to put him in some sort of harness so she could wear him after he got tired of walking, which happened 200 yards from the trail.

She did, without needing me to carry the boy. Obviously, his training on the experience of the five stunts in one day paid off.

Jim Whitehouse lives in Albion.


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