Saturday, December 11, 2010

Quest: 5 Waterfalls and Counting

For me, a "quest" or journey of discovery is a compelling idea. The object of any quest, wether the best pizza in your home city, or some rare species, is less important than the journey itself. Discovery is the thing!

This particular quest began with a simple brochure that I inadvertently picked up along with a few area road maps and summer event listing from the local tourist bureau. The  fanfold "Cascades and Waterfalls of Hamilton" brochure, with its striking picture of Borer's Falls, informed me that: 

"In a year long scientific study, the Hamilton Conservation Authority identified 65 waterfalls within her boundaries, so Hamilton could well be known as the City of Waterfalls."

Wow! Who knew that we were living in close proximately of so many natural wonders? And I had always thought of Hamilton as an industrial city. Just think of what we had been missing in our brief, cursory explorations of this nearby city!

I turned to my husband and partner in crime, who was driving at the time, and said, "Did you know that there are 32 accessible waterfalls all listed in a chart in this brochure! You know...", I unfolded the brochure to see the chart more fully and continued to outline my quickly hatching plan, "it would make for an interesting project to visit every waterfall on the chart and photograph it. We could do the photo series in, say...", I paused to calculate, "the course of the summer." 

I looked over at him and did my best to sound convincing, "It could be kind of fun!" 

While I did succeed in signing us both up for this waterfall odyssey, we did not manage 32 waterfalls in one summer. In fact, that was 2 summers ago. The quest continues to this day. 

So far we have seen and photographed 6 waterfalls. Here today, are the first 5.

Our first stop in this post, is Albion Falls. A large waterfall with a cascade of 19 meters, Albion Falls tumbles down a series of shale steps to a gorge far below. 

There is no organized walkway or staircase, and I can tell you, we had to call upon all our very best mountain goat skills to make our way down the steep, muddy slope. (A good set of hiking boots and a walking stick for balance and support are definitely recommended for all these sorts of adventures!)

On the left: a view of the valley below. On the right: Pancakes of shale lie stacked on top of one another.

Huge boulders of shale, which have broken off and fallen down the gorge, lie at the bottom of Albion Falls.

2. Borer's  Fall lies at an unassuming bend in a secondary road and we would never have found it without extra assitance from area residents. Above, you see the falls in the spring, and below in the winter.

In winter, the outer surface of the 15 meter curtain freezes into a huge column of ice. Underneath this translucent pillar of ice, you can still see the shadow of water, as it falls from the top of the escarpment

3. With a crest of 30 meters, Webster's Falls is one of the largest, most stunning waterfalls in the Hamilton area. The couple seated on a park bench on the upper left can give you a point of reference as to the magnitude of the scene. In the background, you can see a stone bridge that crosses the Spencer River and surrounding park.

There is a steep staircase that leads to the bottom of the Spencer Gorge. The figures on the upper right can again give you some perspective as to the grandeur of Webster Falls.

In this view, you can see the falls in the depths of winter.

The forest trail leads between Webster Falls and its cousin Tews Falls, provides some amazing vistas. In the picture above, the city of Hamilton is just visible in the distance. 

Below is another view of the steep terrain that lies along the edge of the forest trail that meanders between the two waterfalls.

4. Logi's Creek tumbles 41 meters over the escarpment to form Tews falls. In the winter months, water seeping through the thin layers of rock form long, sharp icicles. 

5. I've left one of the best waterfalls, (so far anyway) for last! Sherman or "Fairy Falls" is not the most spectacular in terms of size or depth, but the setting deep in a secluded, wooded ravine, is unsurpassed.

So, 5 down, 27 waterfalls to go! The quest continues...


  1. That frozen waterfall has got to be one of the most outrageous things I've ever seen. I keep scrolling back to it I'm so impressed. It almost looks like someone carved a huge billowy cloud out of stone.

  2. Hi, Your queast of waterfall sound heaps of fun. Oh my, I never seen a really frozen waterfall before. Thank you for sharing. Good luck with your quest.

  3. Wow, Jennifer, the waterfalls are spectacular! The frozen one really stopped me in my tracks, so unusual to see this time warp.


  4. These waterfalls are magnificent!

  5. There is something fascinating in a photograph of water, especially when it is moving. Your shots are wonderful to study and look at over and over. Water is so beautiful. I like your "cascades quest" ... what a great challenge to set for yourselves!

  6. Who knew that there are so many waterfalls in the area. Loved Webster. Something so wonderful about waterfalls beauty.

  7. These are spectacular water shots. I especially love those ice images. Falling frozen water, one of natures finest works of art.

  8. They are simply amazing. I thought wow on the Albion falls but then they only got better. That frozen one was way neat. It's amazing they are all within the same area too! Just beautiful and it's great you have a quest. Sounds fun!

  9. Fantastic post. Your 'waterfall odyssey' sounds like fun. Some gorgeous waterfalls, the many flaking layers of bedrock really complement the water. That frozen waterfall is awesome, looks like something from Narinia.

  10. Hi Jennifer ~ Oh my, I've gone back over and over your photos again! They are so beautiful and I am totally shocked to learn about all of these natural wonders so close to home! There really is so much to discover right in our own backyard! Thank you for your kind comments with respect to my Father - I really appreciate your blog friendship!

  11. I love waterfalls. They're so fascinating.

  12. Absolutely stunning! I grew up in Buffalo and so know of Hamilton but did not know about all these incredible waterworks. And thanks for the info on Amaryllis as a cut flower. I have been hesitant to purchase them but looks like I should do it.

  13. Like you I am fortunate to live reasonably close to the falls. I am part of a women's walking group and we hike the Websters, Borers, Tews and Sherman falls area frequently in the summer and fall. Truly gorgeous.

  14. Delightful to find your blog! Your luscious photos remind me of all those glossy H&H books we used to inhale for inspiration - only better! Your creativity has been freed, and has blossomed just as breathtakingly as your lovingly tended garden. If only we knew then, what we know now! Many warm wishes for continued art pursuits and fruitful plantings and hello to Harold and Dan too.


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