Fundy National Park – Third Vault Falls

I have a rule to always complete what I start. At the end of March, I went on an overnight camping trip to Fundy National Park. There was still a large snowpack and I spent two days snowshoeing around the winter trails.  One of the trails I attempted was Third Vault Falls. On that trip the access roads were not plowed so I had to snowshoe about a kilometer from the parking lot to the trail head. The sign posted (for summer hiking) says it is 3.7 km one way and to allow 3-hour return trip for this hike. I set out down the trail through the fog. It was above freezing, and the melting snow compressed with each step. I slogged on, one foot in front of the other, trying to follow the lone pair of snowshoe prints that were leading off into the woods.

It seemed a long time since someone had been this way.  The silence was creepy. The occasional snap of a tree limb made me catch my breath and turn, fearful I was being followed by a hungry animal.  My mind tosses over thoughts of what would happen if I came across a coyote.

March 28, 2018
March 28th, 2018 snowshoe to third vault falls

I had been punching through the heavy snow for an hour and a half when it started to sleet. I stopped and strained to listen for the rush of a thawing river or the thunder of a waterfall. The only thing I could hear was my own breathing and the rush of blood pumping from my heart.  I was almost out of water and decide not to proceed. Trust me when I say it was demoralizing to turn around without getting my prize, and then have to face an hour-and-a-half hike back.

Fast forward to the end of May. It is a perfect spring day for a hike, a sunny 11 Celsius.  Today I will find the Third Vault Falls. The access road is open and I drive directly to the trail head and park.

Third vault falls trail head
Third Vault Falls trail head

This is a wide, flat, well-trodden trail.  The birds are singing, my feet are skipping lightly over the ground. Through the underbrush a squirrel runs for his life, he or she is being chased by another squirrel. It crosses directly in front of me and gives a little scream of fear as it passes.  I immediately step in front of the pursuer and stop it in its tracks. It turns and flees – more frightened of me than eager to chase the squirrel it was bullying. Finally free of its harasser, the little squirrel stops for a rest and allows me to take a photo.

Squirrel being chased stopped and let me take his picture
Squirrel being chased stops and lets me take his picture.

I seem to be the only person on the trail. I cross a couple of wet areas but I easily find alternative paths.  The trail is mostly uneventful – flat, easy.  I start to hear water flowing and the trail takes a nosedive down a hill.  Plenty of exposed roots and bare rocks to trip over, so I am careful. It comes to a staircase. DSCN1500.JPG In this picture it looks obvious that the trail is to the right, but there seemed to be a trail forward and since that is where the river sounds are coming from I go forward, down a steep bank. I do come out at the river but there are no falls and I question the sanity of taking hikers down this crazy bank. I bushwhack my way along the river bed, then ascend back up the cliff, hauling myself over rocks and gripping onto tree limbs as I traverse the terrain, sliding a few times down the muddy bank. I had to stop and take a breather and consider how lucky I was not to slide to my death.

 

 

I find my way back to the stair case to the real trail. It continues to go downward. At a fenced wide spot a group of hikers is standing.  “Are the falls ahead?” I ask.  One of the men says.”Off to the left, it is slippery and rocky be careful.”  I nod and say, “I will be, thank you.”

Down another steep set of stairs and several rock cuts to crawl down and around and then, to an area where rock-hopping is the only way forward.  DSCN1535

Finally at the landing two young men are taking pictures of each other and trying to get a selfie. When I get near they seem to think they are in my way I smile and say, “I am in no hurry, enjoy the falls”.

I offer to take some photos of them, and in exchange they do a couple for me. Then they decide to climb the rock ledge to the other side for a different vantage point. They take a half-hearted look at to how to across the pool but never give it a try, t wave good-bye as they depart.

Two friends standing on the rocks,  they searched for a way across but gave up
Two friends standing on the rocks, they searched for a way across but gave up

I latch onto  a few hand grips on the rocks and dig the toe of my hiking shoes firmly into the crease of the boulders and swing my way along the rock to firm ground.  I take a couple of time-delayed selfies on the rocks that I am not satisfied with, and that is when I commit to finding a way to the other side where there is a gravelly area and a high wall that will block the sun and give me better photos.

 

 

There are only two rocks I can use – one is narrow and pointy, potentially slippery, the other is a long jump to the shore but I can make it, I think. I asess my risk: What is the worst that will happen? Looking into the river, it is flowing fast and cold no doubt, but I don’t see anything I could get my foot wedged on if I should slip, so getting wet to my hips is probably the worst.  I accept the risk and lunge for the rock. Making it, I quickly jump for the second and make it too. The third jump to the shore isn’t pretty or graceful and my trailing foot lands in the water, but only a little splash, nothing life-threatening. I would never have attempted that before my hike on Grand Manan’s Red Trail. I am so pleased with myself.

Today I get my reward,  A selfie at the highest waterfall in the Fundy National Park.  On the far side of the river. Cheers to me. Please join me on my next hike from Bennett Lake to Laverty Lake, as I show you around the park. Happy travels from Maritime Mac.

Me on far side of falls
Me on far side of Third Vault Falls

 

 

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46 thoughts on “Fundy National Park – Third Vault Falls

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    1. I knew I would have to adjust my time but man was it tough. I don’t think the winter snow shoe trails goes to the falls. I think it meanders through the woods. When I was hiking I was at the hill ridge in maybe 30 minutes, when I was snow shoeing I was at it for 1hr 30 minutes and never came to a ridge.

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  1. I would have been totally creeped out on the first trip if I had been by myself! I’m glad you made it back. We love Fundy, but haven’t done that hike yet. It’s hard to get the kids on the longer trails!

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    1. Naomi, i was creeped out. I just kept telling myself fear holds a person back and our minds always makes things worse than they are. It was a milestone in longer hikes for me. There are so many things that can go wrong. I always think of them but I don’t want to hold myself back but I was really tired, and wet when I got back to my vehicle.

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        1. yes, safe here. We have very few dangerous thing to encounter here in the East coast of Canada, black bears are shy more likely to stay way than confront you. coyotes will attack but also more likely to avoid humans, poison Ivy and ticks are a hikers worst problem.

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        1. That’s my approach too. My husband stopped taking stills back in the days of film, and one day he asked me why I take so many photos of the same scene. I responded ‘because I can’. Gotta love digital 😉

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  2. Neat hike! All the more better with the telling of the adventure to get to the prize. The waterfall is so pretty and worth the hike. I hope your cross to the other side again was as successful, and you didn’t fall in.

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  3. That is a beautiful falls, Kelly. And good for you for going back and completing the walk. As I read about your first try, I decided that turning around was wisdom more than anything else. Getting lost or overly tired under winter conditions is an invitation to hypothermia! Now, on to the squirrels. It might have been true love. 🙂 That’s what is usually happening around here at this time of the year when one squirrel is chasing another. Of course it might very well have been a territorial dispute as well. –Curt

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    1. Your comment made me laugh, I was pretty sure It was love related with the squirrels but she her shriek sounded like “help” so what could I do? When I was finished with the winter hike. I was almost mad at myself for not turning around earlier. I completely exhausted myself and went to far on that hike. So I am wiser for the experience now. I always appreciate your you comments here Curt. Great to interaction thanks so much

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