Monday, May 30, 2016

Dominica Warm Up Hike #1- Middleham Falls

Dominica has terrific hiking.  We knew this from visits the previous two seasons.  But we have only begun to scratch the surface of the numerous hikes here. This year we were determined to do more hiking.  After spending time on Martinique indulging in French pain au chocolate, baguettes, cheese and chocolate to excess, our arteries needed a break.  The nature island of Dominica with its plentiful fruits and veggies and heart pumping hikes was the perfect solution.
Light rain on the trail

After consulting Chris Doyle's Cruising Guide of Leeward Islands as well as the book Caribbean Hiking by M Timothy O'Keefe and talking to boat guy Greg (of Sea Cat moorings) we determined Middleham Falls would be a good place to start.  We caught a local bus by the Botanical Garden.  Up, up, up the bus climbed, winding back and forth hugging the hills.  A local lady signaled the driver to stop at the right spot for us.  Thank you ma'am.  We then had to hike from the main road up a steep side road to the actual trailhead.  
Tom hiking down
As we started along, it began to lightly rain.  This was ok as we were already getting hot from the steep incline.  We found the trailhead and headed out on the well maintained path under the shade of the rainforest.  
Sabrina hiking up

Up and down we climbed, sometimes using the logs that made up the trial and at other times using tree roots as our stepping stones so to speak.  The light rain continued to keep us cool.  A gazebo at a junction in the trail gave us a nice break.  
Tree roots and logs as our stepping stones

More tree roots as part of the path
Middleham Falls

Impressive volume of water
20 more mins and we were at Middleham Falls.  Impressive.  We opted not to get into the pool.  The winds coming off the falls were just strong enough and we were just wet enough from the rain that it was slightly chilly.  We hiked back out to the gazebo and rested again.  
Stink Hole where thousands of bats live

Then we decided to hike up to the Stink Hole.  This is a hole in the ground where many thousands of bats live.  I thought it might be a good idea to say thank to my bat friends that eat the mosquitoes that love to bite me so much.  The trail wasn't quite as defined as we ended up going one way and coming back slightly different way.  Back at the gazebo we started our hike back out.  By now, I was really staring to feel my haven't been used in quite some time hiking muscles.  Oh boy.  

Back out on the main road we walked alongside it to the village of Laudat.  Yes UP to.  It was about a 20 min walk.  Oh boy....really feeling our muscles now!  We walked though the village of Laudat, following instructions given to us by a young French Canadian couple.  They had done all this the day before.......with their small kids.  I can't imagine hiking with a kid strapped to my back.  And that dear readers is why I am not a mom!  We were headed to Titou Gorge.  
Geothermal goats?
The real geothermal
Along the way we stumbled upon one of Dominica hydroelectric plants.  According to the sign, Dominica has the Caribbean's largest hydroelectric system.  40% off all the island power is from hydroelectric.  Next we passed the Balancing Tank, part of the hydroelectric system.  Then we spotted part of Dominica's geothermal system.  And finally, the pipe used to transfer the hot, geothermal water.  The pipe is made of teak!  Yes, teak.  It is an amazing feat of engineering built by the French Canadians several decades ago. 
Geothermal pipe made of teak - amazing

Truly impressive

We finally reached the Titou Gorge.  By this point we were really tired and sore.  It's basically a small concrete pool where you can enter.  Then you can swim up this narrow (10 ft wide) deep rock gorge, (created thousands of years ago by lava flow from one of the seven vocanoes on Dominica) to a couple of very short waterfalls and pools.  The current is strong.  A young couple there said the water was really cold.  I didn't think my very sore muscles would take the shock.  We caught a ride 1/2 of the way down the hills with a local guide and his English customer that had just come down from the challenging all day Boiling Lake hike. 

We got new high tech, light weight, quick dry tees and telescoping aluminum hiking poles at Decathlon Sporting Goods in Martinique.  This was our first chance to test them out.  Both worked great but the hiking poles are absolutely brilliant.  Best purchase of the year!  I am sure these will come in handy.   

1 comment:

  1. Great hike! We love our hiking poles for hilly hikes. Sure wish we'd taken them to Belize where we did some very challenging rainforest hikes. You were smart to buy some.