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Exhausting the Falls

A later than usual Happy Fatherhood Friday to all who are stopping by.  As always, after you are done here check out some of the great posts over at Dad-Blogs!

Bushkill FallsView the Photo Gallery

As part of our recent getaway to the backwoods of Pennsylvania, amidst the lengthy morning naps, booze-filled afternoons at the pool, and crazy midnight canoe joyrides, we decided to take in a bit of local scenery and headed up the road to the majestic Niagara of Pennsylvania, Bushkill Falls.  It was certainly a memorable trek through the wilderness, but I should preface all of this by clarifying that, as a New Yorker, I have visited Niagara Falls, I have stayed at Niagara Falls, and Bushkill, sir, you are no Niagara Falls.

We had previously visited the Falls, about five years ago, sans child of course.  My recollections of that trip are hazy at best, with random images of wooden stairs, falling water and being chased by a large bear who was hellbent on getting my “pic-a-nic” basket before getting shotgunned down by Ranger Rick.  I did not recall, thankfully, the rigorous nature of the journey down into the gorge, or else there may have been a little more hesitation top drop by for a “quick hike.”

We arrived on a beautiful late morning, and with father-in-law in tow, my wife and I strapped our little Justine into our Kelty backpack, bought our tickets, and began our trek down a well built set of wooden stairs in search of the falls.  Within 50 yards we found ourselves at the top of the main falls, aghast at the volume of water, both physically and aurally that the waterfall generated.  As Justine stared in amazement and/or blithe indifference, we pulled out our trail maps and debated (loudly) which way to go, eventually deciding on a path that headed down to the base of the falls, past several other falls, and winding up at some point down the line on the other side of the main falls.

In retrospect, the going to the “base” and then ending up across from where we were should’ve raised some red flags.  After all, the “base” of the falls was probably 150 feet down vertically (a little more if you bypass the stairs, but more expensive with the barrel costs), which means to the more astute folks that at some point, we’d have to climb back up that same distance.  With a 20 pound squirming weight that would get increasingly louder and squirmier as she approached lunch and nap time.  Oblivious to these concerns, perhaps due to male bravado or that I was NOT carrying our daughter, we forged downward.

The Falls area is wonderful, and the trail for the most part consists of wooden planks and railings, and so is easy going on the feet.  We marveled at the sites as we headed down, turning periodically to take pictures, hold Justine over the rail in a mute tribute to Michael Jackson, and yodel traditional Swedish folk songs just to hear them reverberate throughout the canyon walls.  We swiftly reached the bottom, and then realized our predicament.

I should give credit to my wife as she bore the brunt of the “baby-packing” as we headed up the Bridal Veil trail, which was a slow steady climb until we reached several steep staircases where it switched to a quick, painful slog.  I was behind and so was unaware of the exertion that she apparently was wearing, as judged by the folks tromping down the trail the other direction who kept shaking their head, assuring her that “there wasn’t far to go,” and wondering loudly “where her husband was.”

Justine, of course, chose this time to become acutely aware of the proximity to lunch time, and so began to complain vocally about the situation.  Thus to compound our climb back to civilization, we had to stop every twenty paces or so to hand her some Cheerios or her sippy cup to placate her, however briefly it would last.  Finally, after a seeming eternity, we arrived back at the parking lot, with much fanfare, hand slapping and bear-hugging of some visibly distressed French tourists.

Despite the exhausting journey, everyone had a pretty good time, and we of course got some great pictures of the Falls, Justine, Justine and the Falls, Justine riding a deer, my wife shooting me dirty looks, etc.  And thankfully, the trek was tiring enough to send our darling daughter down for a significant nap, allowing her parents to finally steal away to our real reason for heading to the falls – to enjoy the hot tub afterward.

- MWF -

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  • http://belladaddy.blogspot.com/ BellaDaddy

    Cool post. Wish I had gone too…our little one loves the outdoors…as long as we carry her LOL

  • mwfrantz

    We actually passed a fella who had his little girl on his arm, sporting flip flops. Bad planning on his part I think as we passed him here: http://picasaweb.google.com/mwfrantz/BushkillFa

  • http://surprisedmom.blogspot.com/ SurprisedMom

    Nice post! I like the photos. It seems like all of you had a good adventure. Despite the fact that she got hungry, how do you think she enjoyed her bird's eye view of nature?

  • http://www.pjmullen.com PJ Mullen

    I'm glad you found a way to express your grief for the loss of MJ in your own way, we all need to grieve on our own terms :)

  • mwfrantz

    We discussed many ideas to pull us through the grieving process, and frankly this just wasn't the best. Probably because rather than crazed fans, all that watched us from over the railing were several confused squirrels and a park ranger who shouted at us, but not in a good way.

  • mwfrantz

    She loved it, at least initially. She was fascinated by the waterfalls and the trees – always pointing at them and making her inquisitive noise (sounds like 'what is this,' but much less intelligible). We ended up going on a couple of other hikes and she seemed to like those just as much – of course she wasn't doing the walking. :)

  • http://heirapparent.frantzylvania.com mwfrantz

    We discussed many ideas to pull us through the grieving process, and frankly this just wasn't the best. Probably because rather than crazed fans, all that watched us from over the railing were several confused squirrels and a park ranger who shouted at us, but not in a good way.

  • http://heirapparent.frantzylvania.com mwfrantz

    She loved it, at least initially. She was fascinated by the waterfalls and the trees – always pointing at them and making her inquisitive noise (sounds like 'what is this,' but much less intelligible). We ended up going on a couple of other hikes and she seemed to like those just as much – of course she wasn't doing the walking. :)