It's where I grew up, four blocks from the river and the border with Canada. Two-ish miles from the Falls themselves. They're majestic, of course, those Falls, but when I think of the river I grew up on, my river, I don't think of the precipice of water. I think always of the lower river, the northbound body after the falls fall and before those millions of drops become part of Lake Ontario.
Over gazbillions of years the river fell over the falls and carved a deep gorge. You think of Niagara Falls for its showpiece but I think of it for its hidden escape. Ever since I was old enough to leave my parents' house without supervision, I've walked those four blocks, jumped a small wall, crossed a scenic highway, jumped a small fence and entered the state park that exists at the top of the gorge. And then I've climbed down.
I don't mind that tourists don't know about the miles of beautiful hiking trails that lie on both sides (New York and Ontario) of the gorge. It's always been my oasis, and though I haven't lived in Niagara Falls in many years I always hope when I'm back that I'll have a few hours for a walk.
At the beginning of this week we were visiting my parents and while little G (and his daddy) napped I decided it was time to introduce the girls to my gorge. A little has changed now. There's no longer any need to jump that first wall because a fence has been removed and replaced with a purposeful opening. The scenic highway has been reduced in lanes and part of it is now walking trail, making the crossing even less daring. And the trails are still not all marked. I guess we still don't want the tourists to have all the fun.
I was inspired to have a (small-scale) hiking adventure with my girls after reading my latest book club book. Trish Herr's then-five-year-old daughter Alex wanted to hike all 48 of New Hampshire's 4,000+ foot mountains. Would you let your five-year-old do the same? Join From Left to Write on April 12 as we discuss Up: A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure. As a member of From Left to Write, I received a copy of the book. All opinions are my own.