“We are used to this”, was the collective reply when I asked the small and enthusiastic group of Nature Moncton members if they wanted to hike to Memel Falls in the pouring rain.
I was invited down by the club to give a photo presentation of my Waterfalls of New Brunswick books. I eagerly accepted the opportunity and so I was on the road at 7:30 AM, listening to Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. My first challenge was to find the Tankville School. The greater challenge will be leading a group of naturalist to the waterfall and back without issue. I know these folks are seasoned outdoor people, but there are many issues that can arise.
The morning presentation was well received and the group was ready to hit the road. On the drive down to Shepody the rain, which had held off began. Lightly at first but by the time we parked alongside Sawmill Creek it was a full force deluge. Pressing forward we scampered in to Sawmill Creek to view it’s waterfall. Wanting to save precious time we quickly retreated back to the road and headed towards the bridge over Memel Creek.
This is my first trip back to Memel Falls since 2007. Since then, there has been some clear cutting activity and I was concerned that the cutting may have taken away the naturalness of the waterfall. On my initial hike, I crossed the creek and mistakenly picked the toughest side to climb down into the ravine. On this trip I decided to lead the group along the eastern side of the creek. We quickly found an old logging road that is deeply rutted due to ATV traffic, and followed it. Eventually we cut into the brush and bushwhacked down the gentle slope to the creek and emerged at the creek about 100 metres below the falls. Some members of the group were skeptical of my interpretation of a gentle slope until they saw the sheer rock face and cliff on the other side.
The hike was tough and slippery due to the heavy rain in the last 24 hours. The bonus was an energetic waterfall that was spared any clear cutting. After spending 30 minutes we began our return. The hike back was easier and we quickly made it back to our cars with no injuries. At this point we said our goodbyes. As I drove through Fundy National Park I was pleased with this successful outing for the group and myself.
I want to thank Catherine Johnson of Nature Moncton for all the prep work and her enthusiasm. I also want to thank the folks who attended. The conversation along the hike was interesting and funny. This will be one of my top outings.