Medical Biophysics Graduate Student Association

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A Splash of Adrenaline: Water

The beginning of a new year is a great time to start making plans for the rest of the year. If you feel that you want more adventure in you life, but don’t know where to start, then you might find this post helpful. I will start with activities that involve water (waterfalls, diving, etc). 1) Waterfalls of Ontario

Do you know how many waterfalls are in Ontario? Can you name a few? Other than Niagara Falls? Perhaps, it is time to discover them yourself!

Here are some things to consider when planning your trip. To avoid disappointments, consider the size and the visibility of the waterfall. Small waterfalls can be fun and beautiful but not everyone will appreciate it. Then, consider the gorge accessibility. In my opinion, you get the most magnificent view of the waterfall standing at the bottom, looking up at the falling water and listening its powerful sound. The websites that are provided at the end of this section describe the accessibility of the gorge. Here is another important decision you need to make: how adventurous do you want your trip to be? If you want to keep it on a more relaxed side, then pick the waterfalls with easy to moderate gorge access. However, if you are not afraid of getting a little bit dirty (or may be a lot), and a little wet, then you can attempt the ones with a more difficult access. The word of advice though: wear pants and not shorts, running shoes that you will probably never wear in public again, bug spray is a must, and don’t do it if it rained the night before (it’s not fun, believe me). I wouldn’t attempt the waterfalls with the difficult gorge access since it would be close to impossible, unless you have a proper rock climbing gear. I prefer to admire this kind of falls from a nice lookout.

If you really enjoy the waterfalls and wish to see more, then you can travel to New York State for some beautiful views. Letchworth state park, Buttermilk Falls, and Watkins Glen are a must see.

Helpful websites:

Ontario:

http://gowaterfalling.com/waterfalls/maps/ontario.shtml

http://www.start.ca/users/mharris/waterfalls/mapindex.html

New York:

http://www.nyfalls.com/index.html

http://nyfalls.com/letchworth-main.html

1) Scuba Diving

I still remember my first dive in the ocean: It was magical! I discovered a different world, a world that is so close to ours but not many get to see it. A good way to prepare for scuba diving is to get snorkeling gear and do some skin diving (sounds like a plan for the next vacation?). If you enjoy it then you will probably like the scuba. Next, to get some inspiration, you could try scuba diving at the resort. Often, resorts that have dive centers take complete beginners into an open ocean after having a short training in the pool (no license required). However, some places are very strict and do not take anyone without a license for an open water dive. If you do go on a dive without a license, listen to you dive master carefully since it is a dangerous sport. The most important thing is to always breathe and never hold your breath, as well as not to touch anything (accidently touching something may result in a pretty bad allergic reaction. Thus, after a little incident I always wear a wet suit).

So, lets say that after seeing an underwater world for the first time you fell in love with it and now want to get a license. Where do you do this? You can do it at the resort, which is likely to be very expansive and I doubt the quality of the programs there. However, you get to do all your open dives in warm water with fish and corals. Another option is to do it here – in Toronto. I got my training with Aquarius scuba diving center. The instructors were great, friendly and very patient (I was a disaster when I started!). There is another center in the GTA area – Scuba2000. We chose Aquarius because of the better price at that time.  It is best to start your training with a partner since all the exercises in the pool and in the open water are done in pairs. Also, since your open water dives are done in the lake, plan you course accordingly.  If you really can’t stand cold water (you do wear a wet suit, but for me it is still cold), then perhaps the best time for it would be August. By the way, I was told that the best fresh water diving is here in Ontario, in Georgian Bay. The water is so clear that you get a wonderful opportunity to see numerous shipwrecks. It was never warm enough for me to try it.

Helpful websites:

http://www.aquariusscuba.com/

http://www.scuba2000.com/

http://www.boatinggeorgianbay.com/wrecks.html

Other activities:

White water rafting in the Ottawa valley is a great way to spend a weekend with friends. If you want a more relaxing activity on the water, then perhaps you will enjoy canoeing on one of the many lakes of Muskoka or at the Rockwood Conservation Area, or exploring the locks of Trent Severn waterway. How about a trip north to Tobermory to take a glass bottom cruise and to admire the shipwrecks? There you can also visit magnificent Grottos.

Helpful websites:

http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/on/trentsevern/index.aspx

http://www.discovermuskoka.ca/things_to_do.php?s=46&r_ro=0

http://www.grandriver.ca/index/document.cfm?Sec=27&Sub1=130&sub2=0

http://www.blueheronco.com/

http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/on/bruce/index.aspx

http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/on/bruce/index.aspx

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