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Behind Waterfalls - A Natural High

Updated on March 19, 2013
Buttermilk Falls (in Hamilton). Photo shows the front of the waterfall.
Buttermilk Falls (in Hamilton). Photo shows the front of the waterfall.
Behind Buttermilk Falls. A person is taking a picture of a girl who also is behind the falls (and dry).
Behind Buttermilk Falls. A person is taking a picture of a girl who also is behind the falls (and dry).
In winter Buttermilk Falls becomes a wall of ice and forms an ice cave between it and the rock wall. As it can be slippery, it is best to put "icers" over your boots for safety!
In winter Buttermilk Falls becomes a wall of ice and forms an ice cave between it and the rock wall. As it can be slippery, it is best to put "icers" over your boots for safety!
Borer's Falls (in Hamilton) in winter completely covered in ice from top to bottom, front to back, yet water is flowing inside this cone or volcano!
Borer's Falls (in Hamilton) in winter completely covered in ice from top to bottom, front to back, yet water is flowing inside this cone or volcano!
Picture shows the opening between the back of the ice  (frozen waterfall) and the rock face.
Picture shows the opening between the back of the ice (frozen waterfall) and the rock face.
I had to use snowshoes to reach the bottom of Borer's Falls, then I put icers over my boots to go behind the frozen falls.
I had to use snowshoes to reach the bottom of Borer's Falls, then I put icers over my boots to go behind the frozen falls.
Spring Falls as seen from the front (in the Waterdown section of Hamilton). Note the moss on the left side.
Spring Falls as seen from the front (in the Waterdown section of Hamilton). Note the moss on the left side.
Behind Spring Falls. Note the same moss on the top right side.
Behind Spring Falls. Note the same moss on the top right side.
Joe Hollick trying to go behind Lower Tews Falls before the timer on the camera takes the photo. Rocks too slippery to get there before the self timer went off.
Joe Hollick trying to go behind Lower Tews Falls before the timer on the camera takes the photo. Rocks too slippery to get there before the self timer went off.
View of the creek from behind Lower Tews Falls.
View of the creek from behind Lower Tews Falls.
Sherman Falls in Hamilton at night under colored spotlights.
Sherman Falls in Hamilton at night under colored spotlights.
Behind the newly formed ice and looking outward towards the flowing water.
Behind the newly formed ice and looking outward towards the flowing water.

Many people enjoy searching, finding, hiking to, painting, photographing, looking at, listening to, and basically just capturing the moment of being one with the waterfall.

A new twist that most are not aware of or have tried but can add a daring, exciting, thrilling, adventurous, scary, dangerous and exhilarating dimension to a waterfall experience – namely going behind the waterfall! Some have compared this to "a natural high"!

This is not possible with many waterfalls especially if it is a cascade type, however if there is even a minute overhang, just a tiny amount where there may be an opening between the falling water and the rock behind it, then there may be a new thrill waiting to experience.

Often when the waterfall is at a lower flow, such as in drier periods, then you may be able to approach the waterfall much closer without getting wet or as wet from the mist and/or spray. Then you can look to see if there is a gap between the falling water and the rock behind it and if there is a safe way to go there. In some cases you may be able to stay dry as you approach the waterfall, go behind it, take some pictures and leave – completely in the dry! However be prepared to get wet and thus protect your camera (if not waterproof).

Getting back to the comparison of going behind a waterfall as a natural high: Some have said that going behind a waterfall can be as exhilarating as taking some drugs, thus a natural high! Most people enjoy thrills and this experience can encourage some people to trade drugs for a hike in the outdoors with the destination of having a high (natural) behind a waterfall. Some people actually enjoy getting completely wet while others prefer staying dry. Either way, you can experience a waterfall to its fullest, feel extremely good and excited, all without taking any drugs! Thus say "No to Drugs" and instead, take a hike to a waterfall!

If you live in the northern climates where waterfalls freeze over, then you can be in for another fantastic experience – going behind the frozen waterfall! Sometimes the waterfall can be completely covered in ice from top to bottom, but yet the water may be flowing inside this cone or volcano. If you can go behind the ice safely (always wear proper footwear for ice), you may even hear the water flowing inside the ice – and it may sound like a toilet that just keeps on running, never stopping! Oh, remember to bring your camera as there almost always are icicles waiting to be photographed by you as well as the spectacular view of the opening between the ice and rock.

The first three photos show Buttermilk Falls in Hamilton Canada, the first as it appears from the top of the Niagara Escarpment, the second from behind it in summer and the third as it appears behind it in winter. The beauty of living in northern climates is that you can experience waterfalls in different situations, from free flowing water to walls of ice!

Two photos on this slide show to the right feature Lower Tews Falls in Hamilton Canada. A problem of exploring waterfalls by yourself is that it is difficult to get a picture of yourself behind the actual waterfall. The second last photo shows me trying to go behind the waterfall however the timer on the camera was not long enough for me to reach my destination before the camera snapped the photo. This photo was taken after about six attempts and one fall onto the rocks resulting in a cut on the leg! Thus as mentioned above, be careful as rocks around a waterfall are slippery!

Another twist to exploring the back of waterfalls is doing it at night with colored spotlights shining on the area. Chris Ecklund and his group of waterfallers, (www.cityofwaterfalls.ca) have been chosing a different waterfall each night and lighting them up with coloured spotlights. On one occasion, I was able to go behind the ice at Sherman Falls in Hamilton where a red spotlight had been placed in the cave-like area behind the newly formed ice adjacent to the waterfall. Check out the last two photos at the right!

Hope that you may experience and enjoy this new twist to waterfalling, but be careful as it can be dangerous.

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    • Joseph Hollick profile image
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      Joseph Hollick 7 years ago from Hamilton, ON Canada

      Thanks for the comments!

      I will have to check out your Hub on Hamilton's waterfalls!

    • profile image

      Charlinex 7 years ago

      Joseph, thanks for sharing your information about the waterfalls. The last photo is my favorite, beautiful and fantastic with festival lights! I have photographed a few waterfalls in Hamilton and also have a hub about them. But I have never been there in the winter or at night. I vote your hub beautiful!

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