We picked a great time for a winter gateway. Just as the “bomb cyclone” was ramping up and temperatures were dropping, we went for a tiny vacation to Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Niagara-on-the-Lake is probably the warmest part of the province, but it was still freezing with windchill temperatures dropping in the -30C range. Thus we spent the first day trying to keep warm: we had yummy food and had a cozy night drinking wine and reading in our fancy hotel where they pampered us with flowers:
Friday looked sunny at first, so we decided to go for a long hike in the cold up the Niagara River. Our plan for a leisurely stroll pretty soon turned into one of the more intense (and breathtaking) hikes we’ve been on. The Whirlpool trail drops down the Niagara ravine, past massive boulders, to the edge of the river. The river is fast and deep and rolls over massive sheets of ice.
The trail was covered in ice as well and often we had to tiptoe between a deep chasm leading down to the roaring river and walls of rock. We did our share of scooting around on our bums to get from one ledge to another. Parts of the trail were entirely covered in ice and to move forward you have to crawl past icy caverns.
We unwisely left our crampons at home. So there were quite a few moments of panic. But it was all worth it when we got to the end of the trail at the Whirlpool. From the end of the trail you can see the massive flow of white water rushing into the Whirlpool and swirling around what are essentially tiny icebergs at this time of the year.
It was raw and phenomenal, and after all the climbing we felt surprisingly warm.