Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ausable Chasm

I never knew this place existed. I never would have even thought about it. But just west of Plattsburgh is a mini Grand Canyon called Ausable Chasm.

The Ausable River carved its way through the sandstone over the years until it created a chasm filled with fascinating rock formations at every turn. We hiked along the rim of the canyon with some leather clad biker dudes who had ridden in from Mississippi, Cincinnati and further west in New York state. We asked them about riding all that way, and they asked us about sailing all that way. Such different modes of transport, yet there we were all in the same place.

Then we had the choice of following the trail to the bottom of the chasm, or staying along the top. We debated the pros and cons of each way.

“Well, when we go tubing in the river we’ll see it from the bottom anyway,” I reasoned.

“Yeah, but from the top it’s just the same damn thing,” Todd countered. “At least with the trail on the bottom we’ll get close to the rocks and really experience the chasm.” The biker dudes agreed and we all descended the staircase, marveling at the towering walls of sandstone over us at every angle.

We followed the trail until we arrived at the line for the tube or raft rides. We had bought passes to tube the river and joined the end of the line. Luckily there were more tubes than rafts, and more people waiting to ride a raft than a tube, so we were able to bypass most of the line. We stood at the bottom of the chasm and waited for our turn. We watched the chasm staff lower rafts with a crane from the rim to the very bottom just in front of where we stood.

I tucked my camera back into the dry bag I’d purchased in the gift shop. The guide dropped the tube into the water and instructed me to walk down the steps and flop my ass into the center of the donut. The cold water splashed me and goosebumps instantly formed on my arms and legs. Todd flopped into his tube and the gentle current took us downstream.

The walls created an optical illusion. The layers of rock traveled slightly upward, giving the impression that the water would flow downhill, however the water was largely stagnant. We went through a small rapid, the left channel was decidedly narrower than the right. Of course, I was pulled into the narrower side, and eventually got stuck where the channel was smaller than my tube. I edged my way through the pass while Todd sailed by me on the wider stream, laughing all the way.

Once we turned the corner we waited for the guided rafts to pass out of sight. We jumped off our tubes and dunked into the water, thus breaking the rules we’d read when we signed up for this little adventure.  The cold water swirled around me and I dunked my head after Todd had said "Come on, you have to dunk your head.  When are you going to get the chance to do this again?" We climbed back in just before another guided tour came through. “Breakin’ the law! Breakin’ the law!” I sang to Todd as he giggled. 

We went through the larger rapid, and I squealed like a little girl the whole way through. Then we gently flowed on near still water to the end. We climbed out, boarded the bus, and caught glimpses of the chasm through the trees.

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Blogger Unknown said...

You Rebels!

August 24, 2010 at 5:13 PM  
Blogger BJ Knapp said...

But then we looked up and saw someone wearing an Ausable Chasm staff T-shirt standing at the rim and glaring at us. But it's not like they could do anything at that point. They couldn't kick us out in the middle of the chasm, we had to ride to the end to get out. And how would they have identified us? The couple on the tubes in the life jackets?

But we made up for it by dropping some coin in the gift shop. *grin*

September 1, 2010 at 9:16 AM  

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