Boxing Day. Two of the kids had already headed off to the Miramichi and the other two were soon heading to Nova Scotia. The weather forecast was 3 degrees and sunny. No snow had accumulated so far. This was bad for skiing but good for hiking. My wife mentioned that she would like to go on an adventure but one where we didn’t have to drive too far. We had to drop the kids off in Fredericton so I looked at our options.
I had driven by the sign for the trail to South Branch Oromocto Falls (Kilpatrick Family Adventure Trail) twice so far this year. Once on our way back from Raggedy Ass Falls and the other on our way back from the Sea Dog Cove Nature Preserve on the Kingston Peninsula. Both times we decided not to hike it. It was one of the last waterfalls in this area that we had not yet visited. This was the start of my plan.
I knew that we would be getting to the trail late in the afternoon. The days were short, which meant that we would be there near sunset. I had always wanted to watch the sunset from Bald Mountain. An easy 500 meter hike to the top of granite cliffs that was only a 10 minute drive from the falls. I checked my Photographer’s Ephemeris app and it showed me that the sun would set directly across from the cliffs. That was the end of my plan.
We dropped the kids off and then drove to the trail. The silence without the kids was deafening but nice. We didn’t even turn on the radio. We missed the kids but it was nice just to be able to talk to each other.
When we reached the gravel off the end of the Sand Brook Road we quickly realized that the adjacent stream had overflown and damaged the road. The stream was crossing back and forth across the road. The road was washed out but not bad enough to stop us from getting to the trailhead. We decided however not to try crossing the water again to get to the small parking area across the road. We parked near the gate but off to the side enough so we didn’t block it.
We started our walk through the red pine forest and soon noticed that we were taking pictures of the exact same things. We found many small signs and painted stump carvings along the road. The kids would have loved this trail. We agreed that we would have to bring them back.
We quickly came to a road junction and debated which way to go. I won the debate by a narrow margin so we continued straight. We thought it was funny that there were no signs at the junction where we needed signs most. The road to the falls is short, so even if you have to backtrack a bit it’s not a big deal.
After the junction we started to hear the roar of the falls. We were getting close. The road came to a ravine and took a sharp right turn. We could hear the falls below but couldn’t see them yet. I said that I thought there was a lookout platform somewhere. Then I turned and saw the lookout platform not far away.
When we reached the lookout platform we were amazed by what we were seeing in the valley below. This falls wasn’t just large, it was massive. The platform provided an amazing view of the falls below and the many rapids that lead up to the falls. We were very impressed with the grandness of this waterfall and couldn’t believe we had never stopped before now.
From the signs on the platform my wife read the sad story of Chester Sinnot, who had died after falling over the falls in a log drive in 1931. I took pictures of the falls. We then continued on the road past the platform to see if we could reach the ravine below the falls. The road ended but the trail continued between birch trees that were used as railings. After a short descent we were in valley below the falls.
The rocks on the shore were slippery with frost. We could see the falls around the corner of a rock face but couldn’t get very close. The water swirled in the deep pools. After taking some pictures of the waterfalls Vicki turned her attention to taking selfies of us. It was a beautiful day and nice to be outside.
The sun was setting over the trees. I knew that we had to go if we were going to make it to the top of Bald Mountain in time to watch the sunset. We made the hike back to the car and were on our way.
After about 10 minutes we turned onto the Ogden Road. We turned behind the Envirem mulch fields and at one point near the back of the fence line the road got really muddy. There was one place where we hesitated because we didn’t know if the car could make it through. It looked like the car might sink and Honda Civics’ have no clearance. That means we risked getting hung up. I made the quick decision to try it and gunned the engine. If we did sink I wanted enough momentum to push us through. Better to risk damaging the car a bit than to get stranded here in the middle of nowhere. We were lucky and didn’t sink, we only rubbed the bottom a bit.
We reached the trailhead and started climbing the trail. We were soon on the hardwood ridge that leads up to the peak. The sun was low in the sky now and made the naked stems of the hardwoods look like they were one fire. We were starting to warm up as we reached the large boulders. I think of these large boulders as the gateway to the peak. After the boulders the trail cut into the thick white carpet of caribou moss. The bright white moss made it look as if there was a strange type of snowfall near the peak. We soon emerged from the trail onto the wide granite surface overlooking the sunset.
We took many pictures of the view, the cliffs, and of each other. Then we sat on a nice bump on the rock above the cliff face and just enjoyed the setting sun. It was starting to get chilly so we sat close to keep warm. It was the perfect short adventure and it was hard to believe how nice the weather was for December 26. The next day’s storm would probably make these areas inaccessible until spring.
The temperature dropped fast after the sun went below the horizon. After a few more minutes we decided it was time to make our way back down to the car. If we left now we wouldn’t have to bother with the flashlights.
It was getting quite dark when we reached the stretch of thick woods below the hardwood ridge. I saw something out of the corner of my eye move next to the trail. I jumped and swore and scared Vicki. She thought my reaction was pretty funny once we realized it was only a rabbit. The rabbit had turned completely white while waiting for the snow that had not yet come. It contrasted strongly with the surrounding forest. In my mind the white had been part of a larger animal.
Vicki started to sing the Little Bunny Foo Foo song. It’s a disturbing and catchy kids song full of violence. If you haven’t heard it you can check it out here but be warned it’s a bloody video.
Another rabbit stepped out in the trail in front of us. We got close enough to this one to pet it. We didn’t pet it, but we did get close enough to get a picture with the flash. We got back to the car and started our drive home. At intervals one of us would start humming the Little Bunny Foo Foo song while the other one would laugh.