Hikeseekers Hike to Shark River
(Easter Weekend) 2005

by hiker Roxanne Duncan

As I lazily looked through the Express Newspapers during my lunch, I wondered to myself where should I go for my Easter weekend? I wanted time to relax, but still have time for adventure. I definitely knew I did not want to stay at home, then I saw an advertisement for an invigorating four days at Shark River and hikes planned to explore the Matelot Waterfall and the surrounding area at Shark River. I was immediately fascinated, I told others of my desire and two of my friends took me up on the idea. The three of us sat down to make a list of all the things we would need for our camping trip. One tent, sleeping bags, water socks, swimming cap and a lot of calorie-packed foods and drinks. A camp light and appropriate clothing made up the list of things to carry.

After many days of fine weather, low and behold, rain greeted us that morning. Kendell, Gerlyn and I were on our way to Valencia Junction to meet the rest of the campers and our guide Mr. Laurence Pierre aka “Snakeman”. The weather did cast a shadow over my expectations but it turned out to be the best weather conditions for our hikes. We journeyed to Matelot in our vehicle following closely our hike leader. Finally we arrived at Shark River and with one gaze at my surroundings, I forgot all my anxieties about the weekend, even the no cellular reception, everything was so tranquil. Our first activity of the day was to set up the tent, which turned out to be a bit tricky, especially when choosing the right spot to pitch your tent. After we got it right and chalked up the task as a lesson well learnt, we decided to take a walk up the river. We found a lovely pool across from our campsite but we preferred the river rapids to unwind. We came back to camp, changed and relaxed with the rest of the group, Leon, Brian, J.B., Elizabeth, Hyacinth and “Snakeman”.

Early Glorious Saturday lived up to its name with clear skies and a warm breeze. While our breakfast was digesting, my small contingent walked up the hill for a view of the rocky beach and the river’s mouth. When we returned to the campsite the weather had changed from blue skies to a dull gray but it was time to set out for Matelot Waterfall. After a short rainy drive to the starting point of the hike and a wave to Papa, we were on our way. The trek was filled with the sights of hidden pools, wild chaconia, nutmeg and coca trees, which fascinated me along the hike. Finally destination up ahead the powerful waterfall was a sight for eager eyes. A few of us took the chance to enjoy the plunge in the pool, while others took the time to catch their breath because once again we were on our way beyond the fall to another pool which was framed on both sides by two massive slabs of solid rock. On our way back, we passed through an old cocoa plantation where we sampled their sweet fruit. Back to camp, we took another dive in one of Shark River’s many pools and settled down to a hot meal of rice and corn-beef and a game of Romey.

Easter Sunday, we decided to take full advantage of the sun to dry some of our clothes that got drenched by yesterday’s showers. The morning was filled with excitement as many families came to spend the day at the river. Most of the excitement was due to Suzie-lee, Snakeman’s pet. A Burmese/Albino python snake. Many came to hold her, even I tried, and some attempted to triumph over their fear of snakes like Joe. After laundry was completed, we began our second expedition – the pools further up Shark River. This trip, compared to yesterday was a lot shorter but just as enjoyable. We noticed an unusual rock formation in the middle of the river, which Snakeman explained would change again when next year rains come because large boulders are usually carried down the river by the large volume of water. We enjoyed the scenery and the large pool we settled down by, after swimming we made our way back to camp. After dinner of potato and bodi, salt fish and grown vegetables we spent our last night playing cards again, listening to stories from Snakeman and JB and laughing at the exchange of picong between members of the group.

After we said our goodbyes to our fellow campers, with promises of meeting again on future hikes, we started our return trip to the hustle and bustle of the Valencia Junction. At the end of it I realized that I had fulfilled all I wanted to do this Easter; I relaxed and got to experience an adventure of a lifetime.

Roxanne Duncan