After a great visit with Katherine to Taughannock Falls, I was a wonder at the gorges that riddle through upstate New York. The region of the great Finger Lakes are carved and divided by gorges with raging waterfalls and walls rising 30-40 metres above your head. Her university (Cornell), beautifully balanced at the top of a gorge with beautiful views over the lake has amazing ground and even a waterfall that felt to me as if the water was actually coming from underneath the walls of the old buildings. Apparently they have started to build fences over many of the bridges as there are a few too many either suicidal or stupid students who get up to silly antics over and around the gorges and waterfalls. Following the short visit to the Falls (they were very impressive Katherine, despite me having just been to Niagara!), she took me to a great local American restaurant – home of the Pineburger and we enjoyed some great food and MORE LOCALLY BREWED BEER! YAY!
With Katherine trapped in class the next day, CSDV and I set out to the nearby Seneca Lake and Watkins Glen State Park. On the way we encountered a lovely woman who provided coffee and good conversation at her café. She immediately recognized me as a Queenslander and said that she had studied in Townsville “a long time ago”. She was lovely – shame I couldn’t say the same for the coffee, but I wasn’t there long before moving on again to the park.
Coming down the hill into the town at the southern tip of Seneca Lake was a sight. While trying to keep one eye on the twisting road, I looked out over a vast lake – many times smaller than Lake Ontario (which looks like and ocean) on the map, but still very big. There seemed to be very few sailboats out, but it would have been a lovely day for it. Some cloud cover, but also plenty of sun to enjoy.
I headed straight to the park, eager to see all of the 19 promoted waterfalls that flow through the gorge. There were numerous trails you could follow; opting for the “Gorge Trail” right through the heart of the gorge, under waterfalls and close enough to touch the water at points and guaranteed to flood with any volume of rain over either the “Indian” or “South Rim” Trails I really enjoyed seeing the geology that shaped the entire area. Water seeps through cracks in the rocks all around; the whole area used to be underwater some 400 million years ago, with mud and sand deposited at the bottom forming into solid rock with distinctive layers. As the sea-waters receded and turned to glaciers, the rocks would break up and erode away. Now even the glaciers are gone, but the water continues to carve its path through the rock, taking eroded rock debris (and even a railway bridge built in the 1800’s) along with it to deposit into Seneca Lake. More recently, the massive collision of the African and Atlantic tectonic plates has caused distinguishing “joints” in the rock, the same movement that has forged the Appalachian Mountains. A straight line right through the gorge wall.
The path through the Gorge Trail was very well maintained, and artfully done. Rather than detract from the beauty of the gorge itself, I thought that it really contributed to my enjoyment. It was obviously man-made, but the weaving under waterfalls and proximity to the flowing water was fantastic. Getting to the end of the trail, it was very peaceful and quiet, I just sat down to enjoy the rush of the water through the many pools and cracks. I remember wondering why I couldn’t do something as lovely and beautiful as this every day. The giggle and grin that adorned my face during the visit to Niagara Falls was well and truly back.
I returned via both the Indian and Southern Rim trails – as they crisscrossed over bridges, but I didn’t like it as much. It was far more peaceful being down in the gorge, by the side of the water, touching and feeling the water coming from the rocks with the walls oppressively towering above me. I wish I could have spent more time in New York, but next was the great return to Toronto/Oakeville to catch up with the wedding party!