Hamilton is an area rich in nature and opportunities to explore the outdoors. It is considered the “waterfall capital of the world” and rightly so, there are over 100 waterfalls in the area! I was embarrassed to say I’ve only seen a small handful of them, so last weekend, I decided it was time to make more of an effort to explore my own backyard. What a treat I had!
I managed to visit 6 of the waterfalls (technically 7 if you count the one on the 403 as you drive up the escarpment towards Ancaster 😉 ). Each waterfall had its own unique energy and presence. Tiffany Falls had a unique, crooked stream of falling water and a peaceful presence. Sherman Falls was bounding and bustling with water and energy. The plants and trees around the falls were vibrantly green and lush. Felker’s Falls were a bit mysterious because there was nowhere to view them clearly head on (which may have led to some precarious craning of my neck near some cliff edges-I do NOT recommend!). Albion Falls had a step-wise pattern to the falls. Bustling with people, it had a fun and light heartedness about it, as so many people were swimming in the pool at the bottom (read: go early if you want to see it without the crowds). Buttermilk Falls were a bit lonely and forgotten and unfortunately vandalized with graffiti. Devil’s Punch Bowl was the most unique. There was a huge semi-circular cliff face where you could see the individual layers of rock…but alas, no water. I could hear dripping into the gorge below, but no visible stream of water. Need to come back after some heavy rain!
Being in the presence of all these falls had a uniquely calming, yet energizing effect on me. I recently had made a trip to Niagara Falls and had learned that waterfalls generate negative ions which are touted to be beneficial for health. The scientist in me decided to investigate this further and I learned that yes, indeed this is true.
Negatively charged ions are mainly generated in nature; particularly around moving water and after thunderstorms. Versus positively charged ions which are generated by computers, electronics, fluorescent lighting and so forth (basically a North American lifestyle-oh joy). They can also be generated in nature, and are particularly high before a thunderstorm, which is suggested to be the reason people and animals feel uneasy before a storm.
Negative ions (basically an oxygen atom with an extra electron) can have a beneficial effect on serotonin levels and markers of immune function. They can even bind with air pollutants such as pollen, dust, bacteria, and viruses and makes them too heavy to remain airborne. Essentially cleaning the air and reducing incidences of asthma, allergies, and airborne illnesses. They impact the parasympathetic nervous system and help to increase sleep quality, boost mood, and lower stress. Scientific proof nature is good for you!!! Now stop sitting there reading this and get out there! There are over 100 waterfalls waiting for you in Hamilton. 🙂