Three Falls heading into New Brunswick, Canada

Got your attention there, but I’m afraid there was no actual falling involved. After two weeks of great weather, and 13 days of back-to-back climbing, we had the first really crappy day of our NE America tour. Drizzle mixed with the occasional downpour and chilly temperatures meant a pause in the climbing fun, to be replaced with mooching around Acadia National Park. We moved on to the less-travelled south-western corner and the Seawall campground, which was certainly less frantic than the main honeypot areas, reccied a couple of very wet crags and wandered along a couple of short walks. Sometimes rain is just nature’s way of telling you to have a rest day…. Or two! We set off northwards with a plan to climb on Eagle Bluffs, one of the crags near Clifton, but a quick shuffty indicated that the overnight rain had left the crag pretty damp. Most of the best routes involve steep granite crystal-pulling on cleaned streaks up otherwise lichen-covered walls – not the kind of territory that takes kindly to moisture.Much head-scratching ensued, with a major decision point in our itinerary to be made ahead of schedule: A) Go back west, and start retracing our steps to explore New Hampshire more deeply (seems too soon); B) Head north into Québec (appealing but the forecast isn’t great for the next couple of days); or C) Venture further east to enter Canada in New Brunswick and explore the climbing and coastal scenery there, before looping back. Option C won, and we set off along US Route 1.This starts out branded The Bold Coast, before transitioning into The Down East Byway (not on my map it isn’t) and morphing into the Fundy Coastal Route once over the border – every mile of it lined with trees resplendent in their fall colours. We stopped off completely randomly at the Cobscook Bay State Park, more or less the easternmost point of the USA, and what a happy find it was. There can’t have been more than half a dozen campers on the 150 site campground, so we managed to swag this absolutely idyllic sea-front spot(Site 7 if you happen to be passing)Up at dawn and we were greeted by a sumptuous sunrise…… before trundling a few miles around the coast in search of The Reversing Falls.As the publicity poster points out “… undoubtedly one of the least known but most fantastic natural phenomena in the country”. It certainly isn’t over signposted, but persevere and you’ll discover a very low-key picnic spot and an even more understated coastal walk to a serene viewpoint overlooking the “falls”. Whilst the tiny town of Pembroke proudly proclaims itself “home of the Reversing Falls” it takes a keen eye to spot the signs, so here’s a WikiLoc trail to help: falls arise because the huge tidal range in the bay overtakes the outflow from a massive catchment area and causes a reverse waterfall of salt water pushing back up stream.We didn’t catch it at the optimum point in the tidal cycle, but there were some pretty odd eddies and flows to gaze at. However, even if it had been a millpond it would have been a sight to behold – crystal clear waters bounded by fossiliferous rocks and surrounded by forests, with no sign of human intrusion to be seen or heard. The stirring waters are clearly a real draw for wildlife as we watched seals surfing the water chutes created by the falls, herons dipping in and out of the water, turkey vultures circling overhead and a majestic fly-past by a bald eagle. Stunning! We both felt that this unsung corner of east Maine had had been more rewarding than the whole of Acadia.Back on the road and a surprisingly easy border crossing into Canada led in a couple of hours to Saint John, a somewhat industrial town which also lays claim to some Reversing Falls. These are more difficult to miss, being immediately beneath the major road through town, and having a viewing gantry as well as themed restaurant and glass-floored “sky-walk”. The water-show was broadly comparable…… but the surroundings and the experience could hardly have been more different:Just 10mins further along the road was our climbing destination for the day – Glenn Falls (that’s the 3rd Falls in case you’d lost count). There’s actually plenty of climbing in New Brunswick and a really high concentration of crags near Welsford, just north of Saint John, with around 500 routes. However, these mostly lie on a military base and you need to get a permit, which seemed like too much hassle when we were just passing through (maybe we’ll explore on the way back?) Glen Falls, on the other hand, sounded like the perfect drive-by crag according to the description on Mountain Project: faces south, dries quickly, well-featured gneiss, 5 minutes approach, pleasant setting, good range of grades and lots of bolts!It pretty well lives up to the hype, and for such an urban crag it’s hard to grumble about the outlook (though the nearby quarry is a bit noisy). The climbing is fun too, with a dozen routes from 5.6 to 5.11b and between us we did almost all of them. Helen led Endurance, 5.6; Yelcho, 5.7… and Springtime in Vienna, 5.8.I managed a clean sweep of the harder routes and thought that Courage, 5.10c, was the pick of the bunch. Sustained juggy steepness for about 25ft to easier ground.It obviously makes a handy after-work crag too, as we bumped into a couple of locals clocking in for the late shift as we were leaving (comparing notes on New England as they were planning a reverse of our roadtrip later in the fall).Then back on the road east to Fundy National Park.

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