Monday, February 08, 2010

Cold as Ice

Ice buildup at Webster's Falls, Hamilton, Ontario

A strong high pressure Arctic air mass pushed down from the north this weekend protecting us from the bad snow storms south and east of the Great Lakes. Along with very cold temperatures, we enjoyed bright sunshine and clear skies. We have so little snow that winter boots are not necessary in the city but they are needed for warmth if you are outdoors for any length of time. I bundled up in several layers of clothes and actually went to a store to buy a warm winter hat this weekend. Hats are not my favourite accessory and I usually manage with just the hood of a jacket if the wind bothers my ears. But this cold demands some extra precaution.

Webster's Falls

The Niagara Escarpment winds its way around the Niagara peninsula, through Hamilton and Milton and north through Orangeville up to Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron. We are in easy driving distance of many sections of the escarpment. Many creeks drop over the limestone cliffs creating picturesque waterfalls. Niagara Falls is the most famous escarpment cascade, but there are many others worth visiting. I heard about the ice formations at Tiffany Falls in Ancaster near Hamilton and set out to visit it on Saturday. It is the only area waterfall where ice climbing is permitted. The falls are about half a kilometer in from the road and I made it two thirds of the way before sheer thick ice on the trail slopes made me turn back. I watched three people in a row fall hard while trying to walk on the ice. I did see one climber on the ice as he made his way up the falls.

Ice Climbing at Tiffany Falls, Ancaster Ontario

The Dundas Peaks have several spectacular waterfalls and the Bruce Trail allows safe viewing access. Webster Creek falls 30 metres over the escarpment and nearby Tews Falls drops 41 metres into the Spencer Gorge. The trails were easy to walk because of the lack of snow yet the cold air turned the spray from the falls into interesting ice shapes.

Deer along the Bruce Trail

The Escarpment is home to many wild animals yet the urban sprawl of Southern Ontario is encroaching on it in many places. Iroquioa Heights Conservation Area is bordered by new housing developments, an expressway and big box stores. The deer population has grown and the animals have no place to go outside the park. They have become used to human contact and look for handouts of food from people who use the trails. I came across three deer and expected them to run as I approached. Instead, they came toward me expectantly but I had nothing to offer them except sunflower seeds. While this was a interesting experience for me, it is not a good situation for the deer.

I like old cemeteries and the plot of the Webster family is near the falls of the same name. Old epitaphs were often written as moral lessons and warnings to the living and George's tombstone is a good example. He was a young man when he died but he is not forgotten as his grave is viewed by all who walk this section of the Bruce Trail.

Come near my friends and cast an eye
Then go your way prepare to die;
Learn here your doom and know you must
One day like me be turned to dust...

...or on this winter day, be turned to ice!



  1. I like old cemeteries, too. Nice photo of the deer. Ice climbing? My sons have done some, but no way I'd be out there climbing a frozen waterfall. I'd rather just admire the scenery.

  2. The ice falls are pretty neat.I know that I would not want to climb them,but they do look interesting.

  3. The frozen falls look like cave formations. Don't think I'd want to climb them. Like the new hat. Stay warm.

  4. Those ice formations are quite a sight to view. I don't know if I would like to climb them either. I'm glad that you wrote the inscription off the tombstone in your post, I was trying to read it on flickr. Old cemeteries are an interesting adventures. The tombstones, the inscription, the graphics sure dictates a totally different time. I'm like you and dislike wearing anything on my head, but as you said it's too cold not to consider putting one on.

  5. Great post and photos! Love old cemeteries, the frozen waterfalls are awesome, but I'll leave the climbing to someone else! Love the photo of the deer! Looks like fun in spite of the cold and it does look COLD! Hope your week goes well, stay warm!


  6. Anonymous7:23 pm GMT-5

    An overwhelming WoW from this point of view. How cold it must be to freeze a waterfall. So much beauty here to absorb.

    Love the chickadee on the cup too. Its a precious photo.

  7. Those frozen waterfalls look like nature's ice sculptures--beautiful!

  8. You do have very little snow. That the difference between Southwestern and Easter Ontario. We probably haven't had any more fall, but it's just that much colder here that it stays all winter. At least that's been true of my five winters here.

  9. Great post, Ruth! Maybe we saw each other there? (Sunday?)

  10. Great pictures Ruth! My sister lives in Ancaster and I didn't even know the ice falls were there.

  11. I love those icy waterfalls, great pics.

    All the best
    Regina In Pictures

  12. Those frozen falls are amazing, as is that climber! I also enjoy old cemetery's and often photograph them. Stay warm!

  13. I just love reading the verses on old tombstones. The icy falls are gorgeous.

  14. The waterfall is beautiful frozen! I hope to explore some of the waterfalls on the escarpment this year but probably when the weather is a bit warmer. :)

  15. Ruth, very touching post and pictures. I just love it when an animal is not afraid but guess it is not in their best interest:)

  16. Love your winter hat! It looks so warm and cozy. It must be our age, as I rarely bother with a hat - just a hood, but these days, I've dug deep into the closet and found a really warm one.

    Those deer look so sweet, but as you say, not a good idea to "tame" them.

    I did not know people climbed falls. Rather scary, especially if you fall.

    Yes, I know I shouldn't have lugged the dehumidifier up those basement stairs - I can be stubborn at times. I don't shovel snow, however. We have a driveway contractor, and a fellow who shovels our front walk.

    It does seem strange with so little snow about.
    Nice pics.

  17. Brrrrr... makes me colder just looking at those photos! Interesting epitaph to put on one's tombstone. Looking so forward to spring.

  18. What a wonderful post! I thoroughly enjoyed visiting your blog today via the WinterWoman's site! You got some beautiful shots of the frozen falls, and such a great capture of the dear! Old cemetaries call my name, too, and I love to spend hours roaming around looking at not just the gravestones, but the plants that grow there. Sometimes I find some very interesting things!! Have a great day. ~karen

  19. Can't imagine the cold. When I was in Windsor in 1976, they said it was the coldest, minus 28 degrees. I would be frozen this year.

    Though it is very beautiful. You have to be very brave to go to Webster fall.


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