Monday, December 24 – 2007
13:00 – 16:45
Roads: Wet and snow covered
Area: Niagara Glen
Vehicle: Black Sunfire
Weather: Overcast, windy
Trail Conditions: Snow Covered
Hikers: Tori, Wolf, Chuck
Plan: Descend the long wooden stairs and make our way to the old helicopter pad in the Niagara Glen Canyon
We arrived at the golf course around 13:00hrs and parked atop the Niagara Glen Canyon and got all kitted up with my military skivvies, camouflage pants, and blue insulated coveralls with my black goggles, ski-mask, black hydration backpack, big military parka, gaiters and Faded Glory hiking boots. Tori was dressed in a similar outfit with her rubber boots. We found the snow to be rather powdery and easy to walk through. As we approached the top of the stairs, it appeared we were the only people to descend as there were no footprints in the snow. There were also signs that stated the stairs may not be in the best of shape. As we descended the stairs it became apparent that a good portion of the upper stairs had been washed away earlier in the year. There was a layer of ice under the snow which cause Chuck to fall first, then I decided I could just as easily slide down the hill. As I did my boot hit something under the snow and I started to tumble end over end, bowling over chuck and plunging down the stairs. We all started laughing and dusted ourselves off and started to properly head down the area where the stairs were not all washed away. We walked past the stream which was still flowing where there is an old rusted safe, but could not see the safe as the snow must have been covering it. We descended into the canyon and I realised I had lost my Humvee Knife Brian had gotten me for Yule yesterday. We stopped for a quick rest at the new helipad at the trailhead and tool in the view of the beautiful, empty, snowfilled canyon. We found the high side trail as the low side trail was under water with the high water levels from the ice and snow. We found the trail and headed out. At one point I stopped and felt someone groping my buttocks. Even though Tori was at the back of the line, I just hoped it was Tori and kept on moving. We took turns blazing the unused trail. Some areas were very treacherous as there was very little space between the edge of the snow filled canyon walls on the one side, and steep drop-offs down to the rivers edge on the other leading to the raging current of the whirlpool rapids below.
We came to the waterfall which was our 50% waypoint between the start of our hike and our destination. Due to the large amounts of food we had eaten yesterday at our Yule celebrations, Chuck and I had such bad gas on the trail it was reaching Terrance and Phillip proportions! We navigated over the waterfall and Tori tromped through it as she had her rubber boots on. We ascended up the canyon a little more to discover the trail ahead was very steep with little to hold on to. Thankfully the old steel cable we used to laugh at while we hiked barefoot in summer was now an absolute necessity as we slipped and slid down the steep hills. We took frequent rest stops as the terrain was harsh this time of year. We encountered a fallen tree which we all had to climb under. Chuck had a difficult time navigating through it and it became known as the “tree of stuck”. We saw a large hawk make off with some prey and could hear it’s haunting screams echo in the empty canyon. Every now and again we could hear and see the helicopters hover over us from the local tour operation business as they may have been checking-up on us to ensure we were okay hiking in this bad area which claims the life of at least a dozen people each year according to the local papers. Chuck ended up slipping and made a bit of a mess of the trail stating “hey look, the fat guy just made a mess of the tail for our return!” We made our way through yet another steep downgrade – there was a steel cable off to the right side which was set-up many moons ago to help guide people down the steep, sharp, rocky cliffs. On one side we had the high canyon walls with fallen trees and sharp rocks, on the other a steep snow-covered cliff leading right into the raging rapids of the Niagara River. I ended up getting voluntold to go first. As I started to descend I somehow lost control of my descent and ended up running down the hill uncontrolled until I slipped and fell at the edge of the cliff, holding onto the steel cable. I started laughing which made me s tart to loose my grip. I wrapped my leg around the steel cable and heard chuck yell out “I can’t rescue you until you stop laughing!” which of course made all of us laugh even harder. I decided to make sure I didn’t get a tree in the eyes so I put my goggles on while I was lying there trying to figure out how to right myself and Chuck yelled “Make sure you put your goggles on so you’ll look cool when you die!” which made all of us laugh even harder. I ended up making some unusual dry-humping motions to move myself along the trail to safety and stood up and dusted myself off. Tori decided she was really tired and we should head back towards the car. We were all starting tog et damp from slipping and sliding on the trail and made our way back to the large waterfall and took a long break. Tori slipped and went down about 10cm and started screaming how she was going to die, which did amuse Chuck and I. We continued and took frequent breaks until we came to a great spot which was flat with nice big rocks to sit on. We could see the new helicopter pad just around the bend of the bay a few hundred metres away – or just a few more rest stops the way we were feeling at the moment.
As we passed the new helipad Chuck found a metal skewer which oddly, we did not see the first time we made our way back and Chuck insisted it might help save his life on this trip. We laughed and I said my knife may have saved our lives, but I lost it! Chuck responded by saying that 20 years from now, anthropologists will find that knife and say “wow! A Hummer knife! These were made by that car company which made big trucks!” but after closer inspection they would say “Wait! It says HumVEE, it’s just a cheap asian reproduction, then throw it back into the dirt”. We laughed so hard we had to grab onto some rocks to keep from falling over.
We started to ascend the long, winding wooden stairs on the side of the steep cliffs and were feeling so exhausted. Each small bridge we crossed we collapsed to rest for a few moments. As we headed up the cliffs Chuck took his skewer and tried to use it to hang onto and ended up bending it, then tried using it again and bent it even more. He ended up discarding it. As we ascended up the old wooden stairs to the spot where I had tumbled end-over end a few hours ago, I was surprised to see my knife! Sadly it was all bent up and a bit rickety than it was since the last time I had seen it. I picked it up and took it home as perhaps it could have been repaired. At one point during our hike back up the stairs I fell over and Tori jumped on me and started to dry-hump me. Thankfully Chuck did not join in the humiliation! Chuck stopped at the top of the staircase landing and we all collapsed and rested before the final ascent. Chuck somehow got stuck in a hole and Tori had to help extricate him. As he rose, we all marveled at chucks large ass hole in the snow. We finally ascended out of the Niagara Glen Canyon and headed back to Chucks black Sunfire and went home to take off our cold, wet gear and enjoy some hot chocolate.
This trip we decided to leave the dogs at home due to the bad cold and difficulty of the trails. We had such a great time laughing and messing about on the trails. We hadn’t had so much fun and laughed so hard in the face of death in many moons!
DISCLAIMER: Chuck, Tori, and I are very experienced hikers and have hiked all around the world from the mountains of Nova Scotia to the Butes of Utah, Plains of Texas, and even in Death Valley California. The craziness and seemingly unsafe activities we partake in may read as humorous, and are written that way. We are all well trained, equipped and educated in wilderness survival and emergency procedures. We are well qualified to take on all of the hikes we partake in and I blog about.