Water splattered against our shoes, and our breaths made strange shapes in the air. All around, the damp crept near and seeped through my skin. The tunnel was carved from old rock and reinforced with concrete, the rough-hewn surface covered here and there with moss. Neon lights guided our path behind the Falls with their gloomy orange glow, but between the jostle of bodies and the unending corridor, everything felt draped in darkness. Excited chatter echoed off the walls, but all I could hear was the roar of the water, calling us closer. It felt of monstrous proportions.
We emerged through an archway at the end of the tunnel, and the wind was cold and immediate. It carried a fog that swirled hungrily over the jutting, man-made outcrop we stood on, turning the crowd into shifting shadows. Here, the voice of water was louder still, devouring the tourists’ gleeful laughter and the cries of the seabirds swooping overhead. Yet the Falls themselves were hidden behind the white-grey cloak, swallowed in a veil of their own creation. Water beaded on my face and hands, soaking my feet. I inhaled deeply, but here the air didn’t carry a scent, just a constant reminder of the cold in its icy touch.
But when the wind shifted, the moment shifted with it. The mist cleared, and suddenly the sun blazed above, sitting high in the sky. Under the slats of sunlight bursting through the clouds, the Horseshoe Falls were finally visible—a monster awoken from its rumbling slumber. The torrential cascade tumbled over the cliff edge, shattering white spray into the rocks below, a gargantuan crescent moon. Peppered with foam and wrought with the lingering chill of winter, the water was vivid blue—bluer than the sky. The noise was a thundering barrage, a constant roar. I was standing in the throat of a colossal titan, hearing its voice from within. It was in the cold snap of the air, in the billowing wind, reverberating through stone and bone, echoes upon echoes. It was deafening.
From the very first glimpse, I’d known that the Falls were not meant to be admired from afar, a painting kept out of reach at a museum. Standing at its base, so close I thought I might have touched it, the certainty was clearer, like the water. Nature had a voice, and here at Niagara it spoke with the voice of life, of behemoths. Of a fearless, fast-flowing river.
Of a waterfall, of monstrous proportions.