Wednesday, December 28, 2011

December 28th Devil's Hole Cave and hiking in Niagara Gorge

So, I was banging out an article on becoming more physically fit by hiking when I had this realization that I hadn't hiked for a few days myself.  I thought my legs were getting flabby - damn Christmas gluttony kills me every time.  Sometimes yoga on the wii just doesn't cut it...
Also, as I looked out the window and saw the flurries showering down I realized I had to go hiking - there was plenty of time for work later.  So where should I go?  I was dressed, in the car, and had Chestnut Ridge in my GPS, when as I pulled out of the driveway I decided to head down to the Niagara Gorge.  I guess there is nothing like repetition, right?
After the customary bumpy drive to Niagara Falls, I parked at Devil's Hole State Park then started on my hike down the stairs.  I didn't know how far I was going today or if I really had any destination, but it felt good to be out amongst the snowflakes. 
I decided to check out the Devil's Hole Cave near the top of the gorge off of a closed trail.  Unfortunately over the years the cave has been a target of vandals and graffiti "artists."  However, I also think that because the cave is now off the beaten path that morons with spray paint are able to work without the fear of interruption.  Solution - reroute a branch of the trail by the cave entrance and promote its existence.

  The cave was pretty cool, though I didn't see any spirits.  I'll look through my pictures to see if any ghostly images behind me.  You are able to walk back back a good 20-30 feet till you come to the wall.  Oddly I found a small bat dead and placed conspicuously on a small stone.  I can only imagine that somebody placed it there.  Either that, or the bat died on its back in the middle of the rock  - strange anyway.

I ventured down the stone steps to the bottom of the Niagara Gorge and headed north - I haven't gone that way in a while.  I went past the place where the trail "end" and followed the fisherman path along the river's shore along the chain link fence.  Yes, this is one of the many abandoned trails in the area, but it is still safe and easy to follow. 

I took the "trail" to the  metal stairs that the fisherman use by the power project.  As I reached the top of the stairs, I saw a border patrol vehicle pull up on patrol.  They always eye me, the guy with the backpack, suspiciously.  However, they never talk to me, they must know I don't mean any harm.  Even if  I was still wearing my headlamp from being in the cave - doh!  No wonder those fishermen were looking at me strangely. 

I walked back down the river passing both the Devil's Hole and Whirlpool stairs past the Whirlpool and down to the south end of the trail.  I passed a few hikers - usually I don't see hikers down here at this time of year, especially when the snow flies.  Maybe they are training like me for other outdoor pursuits.  I took some time down by the rapids, watching the river roar by and the snow flakes float through the air. 

I started back, taking the lower loop back along the flats of the Whirlpool.  It was quite a site as the seagulls swooped among the waves, their calls muffled by the constant thunderous roar of the mighty Niagara River. I was happy that the annoying skycage from Canada wasn't running today - it is quite a blight on the landscape.

I ended my walk, about 7 miles, by trudging up the Whirpool stairs and walking along the Rim Trail till I reached my car at Devil's Hole.   

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