Hikeseekers Hike to Marianne Falls and more on Mother’s Day

by hiker KellyAnn Balfour

We gathered at the Maraval gas station for 7am (Trini time). Here everyone looked forward to meeting old friends and making news ones. The regulars looked for the familiar faces and the newcomers indeed fit in quite nicely. It was at this very meeting point that Crawford, one of the hike leaders taught another hiker and I to say “Good Morning” in dutch.

A long drive along the North Coast Road to Blanchisseusse followed. After parking our vehicles in the yard of a very warm and friendly old man, we paid the hiking fee, gathered our hiking necessities and listened to Mr. Pierre, the hike master’s instructions. Anxiety and excitement could hardly describe our emotions as we began our trek. We had no idea what beauty awaited us ahead. The group consisted of approximately thirty hikers. Two dogs also followed us.

After walking for about twenty-five minutes, suddenly we bumped into some adventure. Yes! In front of us, there was a large mass of water that looked like about 9 feet deep. One hiker shouted, “survival of the fittest”. Mr. Pierre informed us that we had to cross the water either by swimming or with the aid of the rope that they were going to connect. This came as a surprise to most of the hikers who were expecting a simple hike since we were told that the duration was approximately an hour, one way. We were all presented with the challenge of getting across the water.

Instantly, some of us, particularly the adventure lovers, were filled with euphoria. The non-swimmers put on the life jackets that were provided and the swimmers grabbed the opportunity to ‘show-off’ on us. One rope was used to slide the bags across and one to aid the hikers in the process. We couldn’t keep still, yet those of us who were still waiting to get across looked on as the others cautiously climbed down the small hill before entering the water. Mr. Pierre encouraged the hikers with camera to capture this moment. Chatting was non-stop at this time while some of us were getting into gear for the water-crossing event.

Do what works for you, was the self-made rule for most of the hikers. Some took off their shoes and threw them across, not wanting them to get water-logged. While the shoes were being thrown across, Mr. Pierre with his military-like deportment shouted “shoes coming, shoes coming”, to alert the hikers on the other end to look out for these flying objects. Some of the hikers reduced their articles of clothing while others ‘stripped down’ to as little as their two-piece bikinis. It took about forty minutes for all the hikers to get across. In the air, there was a feeling of accomplishment especially among the non-swimmers. This moment of adventure will be etched in the minds of many of us especially the hikers whose photos would forever help to tell the story. For me, this moment was enough to ‘call it a day’.

We arrived at Marianne Falls approximately twenty minutes later. What a beautiful sight! Oh Marianne! Like a rare diamond, this waterfall “reached out and grabbed me”. On yet another occasion, my trusty camera came in handy. Even the most cloudless photos can never compare to beholding such beauty with the naked eye. I visited quite a few of the other waterfalls in Trinidad and I can safely say that Marianne falls is one of the more beautiful waterfalls that one can find in this country. The water under the waterfall was a bit cold but the day would not be complete if we didn’t go under for a bath. You could feel the sting of the falling water as you sit on the rocks beneath.

I believe we got a small ‘taste’ of heaven – a waterfall that’s out of this world and there’s more: tame snakes. Mr. Pierre who owns these snakes packed them in boxes that were placed in his backpack and brought them along the trail. He willingly introduced us to his reptile friends while giving us detailed handling instructions. The texture and beautiful shades of these tame reptiles were very attractive. They captivated our attention for a very long time as we played with them and took each other’s photos while posing with the snakes around our necks, arms and fingers. A few of the hikers weren’t intrigued at all as they opted to stay at least 20 feet away from these reptiles. One hiker, Petronilla who initially opted to remain at a distance, remarked to Mr. Pierre “Did those snakes have a conversation with you this morning and tell you that they wouldn’t bite?” Eventually, she too joined the snake ‘party’.
Mr. Pierre invited the hikers for a trek above the waterfalls before we made our way back. This is the first time that I had the opportunity to stand on the top of a waterfall and look down. Here we got an aerial view of the other hikers who opted to remain under. I “ruled the world” for a moment.
Some hikers bathed in the water that gathered above the waterfalls, some got swimming lessons and coaching from both Mr. Pierre and Crawford while some relaxed, chatted and enjoyed the view. Shortly afterwards, we walked back down to the base of the waterfall, gathered our stuff and reluctantly said farewell to “beautiful Marianne”. We then began our trek back to our vehicles. The two faithful dogs whose instinct led them to bark at two young men who were passing while we were relaxing at the waterfall, eagerly led the way. These dogs barked at the young men who were strangers to them just like us, yet they patiently and willingly accompanied us throughout this hike. The different trail that we took allowed us to return in about half hour. Oh how I wished the day would last forever.

When we returned, we got permission to pick manderines from a ‘laiden’ tree in the old man’s backyard where we parked. We ‘pounced’ on that tree and began pulling down branches like ‘first time’. After we filled a bucket, plastic bags and jersey pouches, that manderine tree was left almost ‘naked’. Those manderines were all worth it. This hike catered for the entire family. I enjoy hiking. This was my first hike with the Hike Seekers hiking club and I vow to return on another hike with this club. I learnt a lot from Mr. Pierre and the other leaders who were all very knowledgeable, friendly and welcoming. Way to go Hike Seekers! The entire day was splendid.

KellyAnn Balfour, 11th May 2008