Middleham Falls captured my imagination (and my heart) the first time I ever visited Dominica. That very first hike, I walked all the way from Springfield on the Imperial Road, then traversed a steep secondary road above Cochrane village before even reaching the trail head. It took me five hours return in those days. It was exhausting but
exhilarating. You can read about my initial fascination and impressions right here. I have returned to gaze at this marvel of nature several times since March 1997, but I `ve only taken the trail from the Laudat side in the Roseau Valley twice. So when I proposed revisiting this waterfall to my longstanding hiking pod friends, they enthusiastically grabbed their gear and off we went! Liz and I were putting ourselves to a test of strength and endurance about our bouts of Chikungunya. We were curious (and I was a little anxious) to see how we would make out.
The morning skies were dark and drizzly when Nancy, Liz and I set off from Roseau. By the time we arrived at the trail head and got out of Nancy`s SUV, buckets full of rain were falling on our heads. Although Nancy suggested that we head north to the Cabrits in search of drier land, we stayed put and waited it out. We also held back because the Walsh family (Simon and Wendy and their son Andrew) pulled in to the parking lot at about that time, so there was no turning back!
We chatted and snacked for a few minutes at the sheltered interpretive facility, and after a few minutes, the sun came out! Andrew and his dad took off ahead of us (both are avid athletes and naturalists) while the ladies purposely lagged behind. We set off at a leisurely pace, and were slowed down at the start when Nancy and I decided to take off our footwear to cross the one and only shallow river on this route. I didn`t regret it though. I was happy to have relatively dry boots and socks for the duration of the journey. Liz sensibly wore all-terrain sandals and Wendy got a little `help“ from her family so that her feet remained dry!
We ascended some steep steps and then picked our way carefully around exposed tree roots extending from massive chatanier trees and their impressive buttresses. The moist rainforest environment did dampen the path considerably, and we watched out for slippery rocks and deep
mud puddles. Sometimes we engaged in conversation and other times we contented ourselves with listening to the sounds of the rainforest. We admired abundant epiphytes and bromeliads on the tall ancient gommier trees when we often stopped to refresh from our water bottles. The tuneful call of mountain whistlers hiding in the treetops accompanied our pleasant foray.
After about an hour, we reached a sign which clearly pointed the way to Middleham Falls. Without delay, we carefully quickened our pace on the steep and rocky descent, and after about 15 minutes, the distinct roar of the gigantic cascade could be heard in the distance. We did pass by a couple of pretty mini-falls en route, but they were only teasers leading up to the real thing!
And then we saw Simon and Andrew,
comfortably propped on a huge rock facing the falls. They were soaked by the significant spray showering the area from the powerful force of water flowing down the precipice. At 270 feet, (82 meters), Middleham Falls is one of Dominica`s tallest chutes, and it deserves special respect during the rainy season. If we had been there in the dry season, we might have been able to descend the rocky slope and have a cool `bath`in the cavernous pool below. However, we all agreed that the excessive strength of the waterfall was only to be admired from a distance on this day. Besides, we were already soaking wet! I was glad that I had experienced the chill of this “cold“ water setting before. You can read about it here.
Snacks were hauled out and“ inhaled“, as we all had worked up appetites from our mountain-rainforest adventure. We settled ourselves on various rocks or leaned against substantial trees as we took in this natural beauty and her forceful voice. After about half an hour, Simon and Andrew set off, with Wendy close behind as they were going to finish their day with some fun at Mero Beach. Liz, Nancy and I paced ourselves carefully and kept to quiet conversation or solitary meditation on the return.
By the time we reached the shallow river, Nancy and I unhesitatingly walked right through it! It was the perfect method for removing mud and dirt that had accumulated on the footwear over the two plus hour trek.
At the Interpretation Centre, we changed into dry clothes in the convenient washrooms, nibbled on some chocolate, and then set off in Nancy`s vehicle for a light lunch and a soak in a hot pool at Papillote Wilderness Retreat a few minutes`drive away.
When we arrived, we were fortunate to catch up with proprietor and friend Anne Jno Baptiste. After our quick meal (I had delicious vegetarian callaloo soup!), Anne took us on a little tour of the upper garden and then we settled into a lovely secluded and sheltered hot mineral pool. We allowed the healing waters to soothe our sore muscles and we further unwound with light-hearted chatter.
At the end of this sensational afternoon, Liz and I agreed that despite some soreness possibly due to the lingering effects of Chikungunya, we were ready to take on another moderate hike soon. Our long-range goal is still set to tackle more of the Waitukubuli National Trail. Without a doubt, we`ll get there, and Nancy and Wendy will come along for the fun too!