THE UPSTATE GETAWAY
TO THE ICY FALLS
After long nights of drafting, rendering, getting project boards ready and studying for finals my four-week break finally began on Wednesday December 22nd! Besides the usual plans of sleeping in late, binge watching Netflix while I stuff my face with junk food that I shouldn’t be eating I knew I wanted to do something adventurous. I have already ventured off to some places in the past but my goal has ALWAYS been to see a waterfall. So, this break I was determined to make that dream come true. On December 26th my two friends and I decided to pack our bags, get on our hiking gear and head out to Taughannock falls state park. My friend Melissa’s grandparents own a farm close to the park so we made a mini vacation out of it and stayed overnight.
Sunday morning we woke up bright and early and began our 4 ½ hour drive to the falls.
On our way up we witnessed the quick climate change when we started to see the windshield wipers and side mirrors grow ice and the temperature drop to 30 degrees. Even with the dropping climate, we were still determined to take on the falls. When we finally arrived, the views were already amazing. The ride up was beautifully lined by forest trees with the Cayuga Lake peeking through.
Once entering the park there was a charming little inn which sat up on a hill that overlooked the lake and picnic/ recreational area. Following our GPS we arrived at the overlook. Walking up I was immediately in awe of what was in front of me. The waterfall was perfectly placed in the middle of its surrounding stone walls and high reaching trees. Usually there are steps that lead down to a balcony a few feet down but due to the icy conditions, it was closed. However, while taking in the view I noticed a path way down in the distance that trailed along our left and led to the base of the waterfall. So of course, my next question was how do we get there?
We looked at the park's map and realized the path we saw was called the George Trail, so we immediately got in the car and drove to it. The trail began near the entrance of the park and when walking up to it we were greeted by a small creek. The entrance to the trail was blocked off and there was a sign explaining how the trail was closed due to weather conditions, so we were bummed out again. The nature in front of us was too beautiful to ignore so we decided to take our pictures and hang out there for a while. While standing on the rocks, which surrounded the water, I took a moment to take in what was around me and appreciate the calmness of the moment.
In the water were two men fishing, the air was crisp yet refreshing and sounds of the crashing water surrounded me. Even though it wasn’t as magnificent as the huge waterfall from the overlook, moments like these allow your mind to be free and escape the mundane reality of your everyday life.
After we were done there I figured we would get back in the car and we would either go to possibly another location or the farm. I was wrong. We noticed a couple walk right past the barricade onto the path which automatically started the juices to flow in our minds. Melissa and I were still against it because we are always ones to take caution but then there’s Jake, who followed right behind them and wasn’t afraid of the risks. After sounding like his mothers and yelling at him for not listening, we strolled right behind him.
The trail was a 3/4 mile walk surrounded by water and skyscraping rock walls which, due to the cold has icicles hanging all along it. Our casual strides turned to tip-toeing and small steps when the muddy, clay like ground quickly changed to ice. The path got more dangerous, and we now knew why there were caution signs but, we knew this meant we were getting closer! Soon, falling water could be heard and our view of trees slowly gave way to the enormous waterfall we saw at the overlook. At this moment, I felt like I was in a fantasy because the view was that unreal.
There was a bridge that ran parallel to the waterfall and led you to a path that ended right in front of the falling water. The ground was still wrapped in bright ice and it was hard to find a safe place to stand but that didn’t matter at this point. Standing on the bridge looking up at the falls put into perspective how tiny we are as people in comparison to the nature that surrounds us.
The other side of the bridge basically opened to an ice skating rink due to the icy conditions but we needed to stand as close as we could. Making our way over to the end, slowly but surely, the clear air turned into a cold mist due to the spraying water from the falls. We took our photos and my only goal at this point was to not fall face first onto the ground! There were some close calls but I made it back to the bridge in one piece!
By now, my phone crashed because of the cold, I was hungry and felt like I was turning into an icicle so, I decided to start the movement back to the trail. Not thinking and being caught up in the moment I made it to the end of the bridge and in the blink of an eye slipped right on my bottom.
Ice: 1 Jenny: 0
It all is a blur but all I know is that I stood up and automatically knew a huge, purple bruise would soon emerge on my leg. Of course, Melissa witnessed this whole thing while Jake had no clue what had just happened and she was stuck between laughing hysterically and being concerned for the safety of my well being. I couldn’t help but laugh either considering before we even began this trip all three of us were joking about how I would probably be the one to get hurt and that we can't forget the first-aid kit… and of course it came true.
After this we headed back to the car and got some dinner at a local diner in the town we were staying in. On our way there my mind was taken over by the peacefulness of the country. From the long, dark, winding roads along the open land to the charming towns filled with timeless architecture and gentle people, it truly is the perfect place to go when you need a getaway.
After the stressful semester that just passed, being surrounding with people who you know are there for you and going to a place that is so captivating allowed me to put life on pause and transport to a happy place. To me, that’s what going on these mini adventures are really about. Forgetting about social media and the stressors of life and taking time to appreciate the different forms of nature and ways people live is important to do whenever you can. Life is so much bigger than the town you live in and the daily activities that you do.