Dan and Hannah Hike to a Waterfalls Trio at Mount Rainier

Eastside of Mount Rainier Waterfalls – Deer Creek, Ohanapecous, and Stafford Falls

3F  Mt R map

It’s day three of my Achilles Watch in the Northwest.  Five days ago, inflaming my left Achilles while playing ping pong, I put our entire hiking vacation to Washington and Oregon in doubt.  Thanks to evening and morning icing, I am ready to hike for the third time in three days; again today in Mount Rainier National Park.

3F 1 h on big bike

On the main drag in Packwood, WA

Leaving Packwood, WA (population 1330) on route 12 heading east, we turn north on route 123 for the roadside parking for a threesome of waterfalls on the east side of the park.   On this Tuesday after Memorial Day, we have this quieter side of the park to ourselves, as 70F under blue skies greets us.

3F 2 start of trail sign

Some 20 miles out of town we wonder where the hey is the Owyhigh Trail sign.   Somehow missing it, we end up further down the road at the Deer Creek parking area.  Walking around, then checking the map once, twice, and a third time, we finally get back in our rented Kia Sportage, and retrace our steps.

3F 2A  trail down to creek

Trail to Chinook Creek

Paying a lot more attention, we spot an Evergreen State evergreen hiding the sign.  Parking off road, we have seven miles of hiking to what promises to be three sweet waterfalls.  From the road, we hike a steeply descending hard packed dirt trail for 0.4 of a mile down to the Chinook Creek.

3F 2C  more Deer Creek Falls

Deer Creek Falls

On our way to the Chinook Creek we pass the first of the waterfall triumvirate, the 60′ Deer Creek Falls, cascading into the gorge below us.  With the evergreen foliage in full, the view, to the falls is partially hidden.  Still we chalk it up as another white water wonder.

3F 3A  creek itself

Chinook Creek

The trail continues to follow the east side of the Chinook Creek on its way to the junction with the Ohanapecosh River.  On the trail the last of winter’s lingering patches of snow are here, there, but not really everywhere (apologies to the Beatles).  Freshly cut blowdowns on either side of the trail suggest a strong recent storm.  These lumberjacks and lumberjills are the true heroes to we the hiking public.

The trail is basically level, descending slightly as the river roars downstream.   As such we can keep a three mph pace, which for us is rocking.   Doing the math as I check my Casio runner’s watch, I can see that in 30 minutes we should be near the Stafford Falls.

3F 3C  D near last falls

The rush of the Chinook Creek to our left through this dense rainforest slips us into a wonderland trance.  Vigilant as we think we are, we wonder after 40 minutes how we could have missed the falls; but miss it we did.  Fortunately, we are hiking to the Ohanapecosh Falls and back so we will be returning this way.

3F 3E leaf covered trail

The trail winds further and further up the mountainside to the point where we hardly hear the creek.   Our trail map from the Mount Rainer rangers guides us well towards the Ohanopecosh Falls.   The spring green leafing plants are covering the trail but not so much as to be annoying.

3F 4A Woodstock and Elephant in Hannah's pack

Soon the roar of the 70 foot falls gets louder and louder.   We spot a wooden bridge across the upper falls for a vantage point upstream and then one of the head waters of the tumbling falls beneath us.  What we don’t have is a full frontal view of the falls itself.   We give our grandson’s Owen’s Woodstock and Max’s blue elephant a rest in Hannah’s hiking boot and fanny pack.

Young college males all in uniform (i.e., no shirts and lean bodies), let us know that just 200 yards further down the trail is a better look at the falls.  You can see in the picture that Hannah, Woodstock, and the Blue Elephant just have to turn around to check out the falls.

3F 5B  W and E with H at Ohana

Woodstock and the Blue Elephant with Hannah at Ohanapecosh Falls

Heading back for the trailhead we are determined to find the Stafford Falls.  Rereading the waterfalls guide we see that the falls are off the trail by way of a spur.   Ah, reading the directions is always a plus.

Again calculating that at a three mph pace we should be in the area of the falls in about 30 minutes, we climb the hillside trail high above the river.   Determined to hit to the third waterfall, Hannah, as the stronger hiker and not dealing with any Achilles stuff herself, leads the way.

Hannah spots the side trail and within 100 yards we have the best view all morning of waterfalls, here at the 30′ Stafford Falls into the punchbowl pool below.   The aforementioned Australian body boys are here.

3F 6B  D and H at Stafford

Stafford Falls at last

The Eastside Mount Rainier waterfalls are as cool as the mist from a morning waterfall and not to be missed.  Other than the 0.4 mile from the road to the creek and back, the trail is mellow yellow (apologies to Donovan).

At the roadside trailhead, my Achilles is bragging what a stud he is.   Loudly and almost profanely, he proclaims, Bring on the Wallace Falls, my pretties.

Dan and Hannah Hike in Mount Rainier National Park

Including Carter Falls, Madcap Falls, and Rampart Ridge Loop Trail

CMF 3 H on Wonderland Trail

Hannah hiking on the Wonderland Trail at Mount Rainier

There’s just something about the physical challenge of hiking in the great outdoors for us.  Hannah and I regularly hit the Coastal Fitness gym in Kittery, Main, rocking the elliptical, rowing machine, and recumbent.  We play Pickleball up to three times per week for an excellent work out.  Though we knock ourselves out at home, there is just a different challenge hiking seven miles with nearly 2000’ of elevation gain with a must finish end game.   When hiking, we just can’t stop when we are tired or coast in.  We do have to get back to the trailhead.

MR 3C  D and H vertical at MR  VC

At the Jackson Visitor Center at Mount Rainier

While Hannah drives west on the park road to Henry Jackson Visitor Center at Mount Rainier National Park, I ice my foot by wrapping it in a plastic bag of motel ice.   You see, four days ago I dinged up my Achilles playing ping pong putting our entire hiking trip to the Northwest in doubt.   Daily icing and stretching have put me back in the game.

MF 4 waterfalls

Moulton Falls on the Lewis River

Yesterday we hiked the mostly level river trail at Moulton Falls in southwestern Washington for five miles.  My Achilles held up well, and even complemented me on not being an idiot.  But today we are stepping up our game with seven miles of hiking with 1800’ elevation gain.  After yesterday’s success, it really doesn’t seem foolhardy to climb another mountain.  I shall soon see.

CMF 1  sign to CF and M falls

On a crystal clear blue sky Memorial Day Monday, we find the park happy busy, not Yosemite or Yellowstone in the summer busy.   Spotting parking on the side of the road at the Carter Falls trailhead, we head into the interior for a warm-up 2.2-mile round-trip hike to the Carter and Madcap Falls.

CMF 1A  rock strewn river

Crossing the Nisqually River with Mount Rainier in the background

Descending into the dry 200-yard-wide rock and boulder strewn Nisqually River, we have a quasi-rock framed trail guiding us across the river bed.  A narrow stream of rushing milky blue glacial snowmelt passes under the handrail log bridge.


CMF 2  Carter falls

Carter Falls

Quickly we are climbing into the woods on a trail of hard packed dirt, pleasant to the foot.   Heavily shaded, the trail is a steady climb of 500’ elevation in the arboreal wonderland of Mount Rainier.  Perfect for families, the trail gets us to the crashing 50′ Carter Falls in 30 minutes.   Five minutes later we arrive further inland on the Paradise River at the Madcap Falls.  Check out the video below of all its frothiness.

CMF 1AAA D on log bridge over river

Crossing  back over the Nisqually River

All downhill back to the trailhead, we have had a delightful one hour plus warm-up hike that has got the endorphins sweetly caressing my Achilles and no whining about overuse.

Next we’ll tackle the 4.7 miles of the Rampart Ridge Loop Trail with its 1300’ of elevation gain to see if I am biting off just a little bit more than I can chew, Achilles-speaking.

Parking roadside, we start up the Wonderland Trail, a 93-mile trail that circles the base of Mount Rainier itself.  Our 1.5-mile climb is steady and punishing for the Achilles-challenged among us, as we come in and out of the forested sunshine.

Relieved at arriving in less than an hour at the Rampart Ridge Trail’s levelness, we rock on toward the Vista Point 1.1 miles away.  Hannah sets the pace when we hike, but today she is a good 30’ ahead as I hike/plod on with my Achilles in tow; though not barking, it is letting me know with each step, I’m still here, Danny Boy.  That said, I’m not in any pain, just taking the slow boat to China.

CMF 3 H on Wonderland Trail

As we climb a final assent to the top we come out into the sunshine.  Hannah turns around and says, “Look!”    The video below shows you what we see.

Nearly at the top we assume we have just seen the promised Vista Point.  We are wrong, as a quarter mile later we see a sign that says “Vista Point 200 feet.”   Thinking this is going to be another spectacular view, we take the spur to the vista and are let down.  Oh, we do see across the valley but have no view of the grand 14,410’ Mount Rainier at all.

CMF 4A  H on Ramparts trail

Returning to the trailhead

Finally, at the trailhead, my Achilles is tender, but I am in no pain.  With ice from the cooler, I use two rubber bands to secure the plastic bag of ice to my left Achilles.   Today’s nearly 7 miles of mountain hiking is something I couldn’t have imagined doing three days ago when my Achilles said, “Don’t even think about it!

Well, I thought about it and my Achilles came through in the clutch.   So it’s on to the waterfalls hikes on the Eastside of Mount Rainier tomorrow.  Of course, I’ll ice and flatter my Achilles all evening long, and see what he thinks come morning.

Dan and Hannah Are Coming After Mount Rainier

We’re coming big fella.  We just want to see you in all your astoundingness.

Dear readers, have a seat and get out your crying towel and weep along with us.

MR  Denali

Twenty-one years ago in the summer of 1995, with our three kids, Molly, Robyn, and Will, Hannah and I drove 4500 miles from York, Maine to Fairbanks, Alaska, hiking and camping along the way.  During our entire time at Denali National Park, we never once saw Denali, the highest peak in North America.  Low clouds kept us from seeing her even half way up.

MR national parks in wash

Well it’s crying time again.  Three years ago we journeyed to Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Park and it rained; we never saw what was left of the mountaintop.  Last year, there were more tears on our pillows as rain and low clouds kept us from seeing Mount Rainier in all its grandeur.  In addition, a trip to Olympic National Park that same summer left us without seeing the summit of Mt. Olympus due to low clouds.  Are your eyes as red and puffy as mine?

So we are back.  We’ve come to the Northwest to hike the waterfall trails of the Northwest, explore the coast of Oregon, and complete the trifecta by seeing Mount Rainier.

MR 1A  H with MR in background

Our first glimpse of 14,410′ of Beauty

After an overnight with our niece Corrie and nephew Karl, we spend our first night in the state of Washington at the Crest Trail Motel in Packwood, WA, the gateway to Mount Rainier National Park.   Besides providing two evening glasses of wine from the local Two Vines winery, the Crest Trail has biscuits for Dan and biscuits and gravy for Hannah.  Carbs with a cup of joe is my recipe for starting a hiking day in the mountains of Washington.

On this Memorial Day Monday, only three days since my Achilles event, I use the motel ice machine to ice my left Achilles 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off in preparation for the hikes today.

MR  MR sign

Taking route 12 east, then route 206 north, we have a morning sky without a cloud; an excellent sign that today is our day to see the still active Mount Rainier in all its 14,410’ of awesomeness.

At the Stevens Creek Entrance on the east side of the park, we get maps for the day’s hikes and take to the serpentine 21-mile drive to the Henry Jackson Visitor Center in the center of the park.  (HJ was a US Senator from Washington.)

MR 2  D at Reflection Lake

The road is heavily forested as we climb in elevation towards the base of Mount Rainier with its 25 glaciers, just 54 miles southeast of Seattle.  After five miles of driving we catch a glimpse of the Big Kahuna itself.   Pausing, we snap pictures hoping to get the one that will go on my Instagram and Facebook account to capture today’s triumph.

MR 2A  Reflection Lake

Reflection Lake at Mount Rainier

Pulling over with others at Reflection Pond, which is 90% covered in snow this late May day, we catch a small slick of open water that reflects Mount Rainier’s stunningness.

Once at the Visitor Center, we park with other hikers sporting ice picks, snow shoes, crampons, and backpacks full of camping gear preparing for an assault on the mountain.   We smile, nod our respect.  Ice climbing has never been on our bucket list.

MR 3A  D and H with MR at VC

Behind the Mount Rainier Visitor Center

With others, we gawk at the snowy dominance of Mount Rainier on this festive Memorial Day Monday with so many of us thankful for the service of our veterans.

For me it is our daughter Robyn, stationed in Afghanistan ten years ago with the US Army, my Dad in WW II, both in the European and Pacific Theatres as part of the navy that was planning to invade Japan in 1945, my Mom as a Red Cross staff work in the Pacific in Guam in 1945, and my Uncle Harry who died on April 4, 1945 (the war ended May 7!) during the final Allied push to Germay.  On a side note, Dad always contended that there was not a single sailor or soldier who was against dropping the Atom Bomb on Japan.

MR 3D  flag at half staff

Hannah captures the half-mast flag at the Visitor Center with her iPhone.  The park rangers have excellent maps and suggestions for hiking based on our love of waterfalls.

We have zeroed in on two good hikes for today.  Carter Falls and Madcap Falls are part of a two-mile round trip hike with 500’ of elevation.   Then two miles further down the park road towards Longmire, we will take to the trails of the 4.6 mile Rampart Ridge Loop Trail with its 1300’ of elevation gain to test my Achilles fully.

First Mission Accomplished:  We have seen Mount Rainier in all its mind-blowingness.

Second?  To see if my Achilles is up for this serious mountain hiking challenge.

Stay tuned.

Dan and Hannah Hike to Moulton Falls in Washington State

MF  ping pong

It all began quite innocently.   I play ping pong each Thursday afternoon with my buddy George Derby; we’ve played weekly for the last five years since I retired from the University of New England.  Here’s the scene.  It’s a warm late May day; I am in bare feet to keep cool and be light on my feet.

MF  red hook beer

An hour into our games, I feel a small ache in my left heel, but play on.   Later, after sitting over Red Hook beers, I have to limp to make it to and from the kitchen.  While I’m sitting, I twist my ankle up and down, then side to side to keep it loose.

Overnight, I sleep restlessly, even putting a pillow under my left foot to elevate it for some relief.   Nothing’s working.  You see, the timing of my aching heel is not good at all.  Hannah and I fly to Portland, Oregon in two days to hike the waterfall trails in the Northwest.   As I awake Friday morning, there is no way I can hike.

MF jet blue

Postpone the trip?   Why go on a hiking trip if I can’t hike?  Though we’d be charged $150 each by Jet Blue to change our tickets, postponing would save the $530 rental car fee and multiple nights in motels.

Fortunately, I have a “go to” friend/physical therapist Corky Thomson to consult.  Having been there for my stiff neck and pickleball elbow, she is the one I text at 515A, the day before we are to leave, to see if she has a few minutes to see me.  Fortunately, she does.

MF Achilles 1

Once we get together, Corky tests my ankle to see if I have torn my Achilles tendon.  Fortunately it appears that I’ve just strained and inflamed it.   Recommending ice, 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off all day, she also offers me her favorite Achilles stretching exercise (see its description at the end of the blog) and sends me on my way.

Like past minor aches and pains, this Achilles issue is just another symptom of a 68-year body naturally breaking down over time.   It’s no mystery that a lifetime of exercising, thirty years of running, and living the outdoor life may have caused me a few physical problems.  Thankfully, stretching to attend to my flexibility can keep me in the game.   Oh, and one more thing, Corky adds, No more playing in bare feetYou need the support of sandals or shoes.

MF 1  D icing at Logan

Faithfully icing with 50 overs waiting at Logan Airport for our Jet Blue flight

Highly motivated with our departure just a day away, I ice religiously and stretch my Achilles.  By late in the day I feel 80% and am stunned how good I feel.

MF 1 Camden food company

Taking nothing for granted, I ice and stretch throughout Saturday, prior to our evening Jet Blue flight to Portland.   At Boston’s Logan Airport, I gingerly walk the wide corridors looking for a place that just might fill my Ziploc bag with some ice.  Bingo!  Camden food co. comes through in the clutch.  The smiling clerk takes my Ziploc bag and fills it with three trays of ice.

Right there in the waiting area, I ice off and on for the next 90 minutes.  I have no shame.  Later, during the six-hour flight to the West Coast, I ice my left Achilles at my aisle seat a good five times more.  My seatmates act like this is all perfectly normal.  I am not.

MF 1 Corrie Karl and Hannah

Corrie, Karl, and Hannah.  Corrie holds a Hannah’s Loft cream pitcher from the circa 1986-1991 when Hannah was a B&B innkeeper.  Hannah holds a mug crafted by our son Will.

Once in the Beaver State, we stay at our niece Corrie’s and nephew Karl’s place in nearby Beaverton (home to Nike).   As you may guess, they welcome us, well, like family!   A morning of coffee and oatmeal on their back deck sets us up for driving an hour to the northeast past Battle Ground, Washington for the trailhead of Moulton Falls.

MF 2A Trail sign with H

Moulton Falls trail begins along the Lewis River

With Day Hikes – Columbia River Gorge by Craig Romano (2011) as a guide, we have clear directions and a map for the perfect hike for me; a five-mile round-trip along the East Fork of the Lewis River (yes, that Lewis of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark fame) on a gently inclining terrain with no more than a 260’ of elevation gain.

MF 3 D on gravelly trail on riverside

Ithacan bombing out west

Icing my Achilles twice while Hannah drives to the Moulton Falls trailhead, I am ready for the first 0.6 of a mile of the wide, paved trail with kids rolling by on bikes.   With the East Fork to our left, my pace is slower than usual but steady nonetheless with only minor discomfort.  Sweetly, Hannah slows so we can walk together.

MF 3C  more Lewis River

High above the Lewis River

Soon the 20’ wide trail, filled with families on this Memorial Day Sunday, turns to hard packed gravel, which is still excellent for bicyclists and easy on this Mainer’s Achilles.  High above the rapids, we see riverside cabins on the opposite side as we look forward to getting down to the white water of the rocky Lewis River.

A little over two miles in, we arrive at the trestle bridge spanning the river chasm.  Crossing over, we head back down the opposite side of the East Fork for the Moulton Falls itself.  As one might expect on a Memorial Day Sunday, families are smiling and loving life on a 67F afternoon in rural Washington, just 40 miles from Portland, Oregon.

MF 5C  D and H again at MF

With some modest rock scrambling, we position ourselves for one of my favorite couple photos.   The Achilles, though slightly sensitive with each step, is safely protected with three socks in my hiking boot; it’s been a good choice to river walk rather than to be climbing a mountain.

MF 6 H at Lewis River

With a simple downhill 2.5 miles back to the trailhead, we have a river trail to ease the ever present sensation in my heel.  At the car, I deboot and desock, and then ice my foot as Hannah does the Columbus thing – she drives west to I-5 to eventually go east on route 12 to Packwood, WA, the gateway to Mount Rainier.

We all have angels in our lives.  Our hiking on this first day in the Northwest is happening thanks to today’s angel – Corky Thomson.

MF 7 Pony Espesso

Washington coffee shop


On our way to Packwood, we can’t help but smile at this coffee shop.

MF Achilles 2

Achilles exercise.   Stand on a stairway riser as if climbing up. With toes pointing straight ahead, comfortably positioned, let the heel drop until you can feel the stretch.  The beauty of the exercise is as you dip for a minute, you have the gravity of your full body weight to make the stretch a good one.  Dip for a minute five times, three times per day.   For me, it will be a lifetime of such stretching.  You see, I want to stay in the game.

Dan Finds Two Dollars

I am just standing in the “14 items or less” express line at Hannaford with my gallons of water, 1% milk, slightly green bananas, and the Sunday New York Times.  Just as I am putting the milk on the conveyor belt, I see two dollar bills on the floor by the hand baskets customers use if they only have a few items.

$2 handbasket

Said handbaskets

I pick up the bills and immediately hand them to the cashier, who looks like a high school student, saying, I just found these two dollars and I want to give them to you.  I thought it would be nice to give them to the young man.

What do you think he says?  It’s not “thanks.”

He gets on the grocery store intercom and says, Manager to aisle 7.   He looks at me and says, I can’t take this.  It would be embezzling.  And I don’t want to lose my job over two dollars.

I’m stunned, and then again I’m not.  Embezzling doesn’t seem to quite capture our interaction.  I guess it’s corporate policy that employees can’t accept gifts on the job.

$2 DD

Hannah once gave a terrific tech at Best Buy a $5 Dunkin’ Donuts gift card for going above and beyond rescuing our computer.   He said he couldn’t take the gift card, but thanks anyway.

So I say to the efficient young man, It’s just a gift.  But he goes about his business checking my items and wants no part of my misguided generosity.  Soon the manager comes over to hear the cashier’s explanation, takes the two dollars, and is gone with the wind.

Ever pleasant, the young man repeats that it would be embezzling if he took the money.  I think to protest more, but he’s got his corporate face on and the two dollars are long since gone.

$2 hannaford

A lady in her sixties in line in front of me smiles and enjoys the whole interaction.   She says, Hannaford’s will know what honest employees they have.  I smile and nod.

Still this is not what I thought would happen.

Next time?

Next time when I find money, I’ll do the pay for the car behind me at the tollbooth thing.

You know, I’ll give it to the clerk and say, Please apply this to the bill of the person behind me.

Or would that be embezzling, too?  Nah, not in my world.

Dan and Hannah’s Woo Girls Reunion at Niagara Falls  Part 2 of 2


NF  1  R and H

Rockin’ Robyn with her Mama

For the Second Annual Woo Girls Reunion (Hannah, Bambi, Maxine, and Wendy – all proud graduates of the College of Wooster in Ohio), we travel to Maxine and her hubby Don’s place outside of Niagara Falls, New York.  Though it’s a 522-mile drive from York, Maine, we give it a comma (by punctuating the trip!) by stopping to lunch with our daughter Robyn near Syracuse.   Over Chinese (Hannah and Robyn) and Mexican (Dan) at the Destiny USA Mall food court, we catch up while scarfing down our lunch; later Robyn gives us a bag of goodies.

NF 1A  Chicken Soup cover

Within the bag is a book, Chicken Soup for the Soul: The American Spirit.  Robyn’s a published author!  The story of her time at Give Kids the World and her military service comes alive.  Robyn has a good tale to tell and it just reinforces how proud we are of her.

NF 2A 4 Woo Girls in kitchen 2

Maxine, Hannah, Bambi, and Wendy

Three hours later we pull into the driveway of Maxine and Don’s out-in-the-country home.  It’s been nine months since the Woo Girls got together at our place in York on the Atlantic coast.  Last year we were all pretty much new to each.  During one stretch, Hannah and I hadn’t seen any of the women in 40 plus years.

The four women and I matriculated at the College of Wooster as first year students.  Girls had curfews and three legs needed to be on the floor every time a guy was in a girls’ room.  Freshman wore dinks as part of the freshman initiation.  Hannah was in the local Lambda Alpha Sigma sorority/club and I a member of the local Kappa Chi fraternity.  (When I pledged Kappa Chi, it was called Kappa Kappa Kappa (that’s right – KKK) and the fraternity pin was a white cross!  Really!)  Neither social club is still active at Wooster.

NF dinks

Freshman Dinks at Wooster

NF J and B  and MLK 2

John, Martin, and Bobby

Charismatic and beloved President Kennedy had been assassinated less than three years before we enrolled at Wooster.  Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy would be murdered while we were at Wooster.  Four students at Kent State were gunned down just 45 minutes northeast of the Wooster campus.

It’s no surprise that we all went our separate ways during such tumultuous times.  But today, as the sun goes down just north of Buffalo, New York, we, all in our mid to late 60s, reconnect.  By the way, we are having Genesee beers which were not allowed at Wooster in the 1960s.

NF 6 Don and Maxine in backyard

Don and Maxine in their backyard

Earlier in the week, Maxine’s Don checked out the entire Niagara Falls hike to see how long it would take and where, if need be, we might cut the hike short.  Did Maxine marry well or not!  After our weekend together, we know she aced this test.

NF 6B  Skip and Bambi backyard

Bambi and Skip

On Saturday morning, Maxine drives the other three Woo Girls in her car the 30 minutes to the Niagara Falls State Park while Bambi’s guy Skip and I ride with Don.  It’s Saturday of Father Day Weekend so the crowds have come to Niagara Falls.

NF 6A  Woo Girls in backyard

Wendy, Bambi, Hannah, and Maxine

Our starting point is Goat Island, but soon we cross over to the Three Sisters Islands with views of the raging rapids in the Niagara River, just before it tumbles over the Canadian Horseshoe Falls.  As a local kid, Don would play in and among these islands, long before fences were built.

NF 4  D and H at American Falls

American Falls in the background

With summer crowds on the paved trails to the 188’ Horseshoe Falls of the Ontario, Canada side, we seven pair off in twos and threes in conversation and mellow hike with no sense of urgency.   The day is warming to near 90F so mellow is the word of the day.

NF 4B  Woo Girls at American Falls

Bambi, Hannah, Wendy, and Maxine

Though there are many on the trails, we can get our pictures by the fence protecting us from the falls.  The fence is right up to the cliffs themselves so enjoy this 22 second video of the 100’ American Falls.

NF 5 Falls from Observation Deck

Canadian Horseshoe Falls in the distance with the American Falls in front

Further beyond there are six booths selling tickets to the Maid of the Mist boat ride for $18.25 per adult.  Since we are just going to the Observation Deck and then taking the elevator down to the sidewalk to the base of the American Falls, we are charged a mere $1.25 each.  Quite the deal!

Though our views of the falls from the Observation Deck are spectacular, there is a 300′ long long line waiting to get onto the elevator.   At noon, as I look below, I see people are not even moving, waiting in line to stand by the base of the American Falls.

NF 6C  D H and Wendy in backyard

Wendy with the Mainers

Never a fan of waiting (both for the elevator and the path to the Falls), I ask the others how they’d feel about passing on the elevator ride to the base of Falls.  Unanimously the other six are on board to forego the wait. It’s near 90F and Maxine and Don’s air-conditioned house beckons.

Hanging out with the Woo girls, Skip, Don, and I know we have hit the mother lode.