I remember the first time I saw a photo of Niagara Falls before the developers got to it. It was an old silver photo from the late 1800’s, and there was the Horseshoe Falls flanked on all sides by trees, trees, and nothing but trees. I cried to see a scene so heartbreakingly beautiful and so utterly lost in time.
When I was a child, visiting Niagara Falls was a near yearly event. My parents immigrated from Germany, and Niagara Falls was number one on every visiting relative’s list as a ‘must see’ tourist attraction. I don’t remember much about those visits beyond the heat, the traffic, and the fumes, and my most compelling visual memory is one of surfing through a sea of arm-pits (our visits were always done on mid-summer afternoons).
Under the circumstances, I failed to understand the allure of the attraction. Niagara Falls became synonymous with tacky, crowded, boring, hot, swimming in oceans of pavement. I thought nothing would ever draw me back as an adult until I saw ads for deep winter discounts on accommodations and my frugal mind began to spin. And so a Falls View weekend was planned.
I remember my first winter visit to the Falls as an adult. Walking along the falls, there was not a soul in sight. There I was, alone with nothing but tonnages of green water sheeting down, and ice and snow all around. I almost cried again, it was so beautiful. Somehow, without the crowds and the stench of traffic, the magic was back.
So now, every ten years or so (this was our second winter trip) we take advantage of winter discounts and enjoy what’s left of the natural beauty of this wonder of the world. In winter, it stands alone in all it’s glory, the snow becomes a regal mantle that obscures it’s gaudy carnival cloak.
Niagara River below the falls; hiking trail just north of the Hydro Electric Dam takes you right down to the river if you are willing to scrabble and climb. Here you can sit on rocks with nothing to separate you from a cold and watery oblivion.