May 25, 2009

Boiling Lake = Bay Oil Therapy

I did it! I finished the hardest hike in all of Dominica! Well...at least the hardest that I know of. The Boiling Lake is a lake near the top of one of the island's mountains that has volcanic vents that heat it to boiling temperatures from the bottom. You can see the bubbles coming up and the steam is so thick that sometimes you cannot see the lake.



This hike is one of the reasons I chose Dominica and Jungle Bay Resort and I am so happy I didn't chicken out after some of the other easier hikes we did gave me a cardio run for my money. They do this hike twice a week for the guests at Jungle Bay Resort. However, on Saturday they offered it to 11 guests that were leaving on Sunday morning and I was concerned that they would not provide it on Sunday. I signed up at dinner and prepared myself to leave at 7:30 the next morning. After a quick breakfast, I walked up to the main building and found that I would be the only one going on the hike. I was getting my own private tour!

Moses, my guide, and I hopped in the truck and off we went on an hour and a half drive to the trailhead. When we arrived, I used the "ladies" room...a bush...and we walked past a hydropower plant to the first stop on the sightseeing tour. It was the cavern and waterfall where they filmed part of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie.



After a few pictures, we began the easiest part of the trail that is about 1/4 of the trip. It was through the jungle and consisted of ALOT of mud from the past few rainy days and ALOT of stairs made of fern trunks and various types of wood.



A quarter of the way in, we began our descent down into a valley to cross a small river and then, of course, we would head back up. If I had known what I was getting into I would have counted stairs. There must have been a million! Just when you thought the bend ahead meant you were at the top, you would turn and there would be more and more stairs! "It never ends..." I said and Moses laughed.



The hike overall takes 6 hours...3 hours in and 3 hours back. Some do it in less and some in more. However, imagine being on the stairmaster for 6 hours straight...then add some mud, some running water, some boiling sulfur puddles...but then add some amazing views from the some of the highest peaks on the island, and a nice relaxing bath in a hot spring below a waterfall. Sounds like a mix of Heaven and Hell, right? Yeah. That about sums it up.



Since it was Sunday, all of the locals were at church and the cruise ships had gone for the week. This meant we were the only two people on the trail! Typically there are multiple groups of 10-30 people along the way. Sometimes the trail is so narrow that I can't imagine trying to pass someone while walking on muddy, slippery, wooden steps. There had been a few mud slides in the past week and we had to follow a makeshift trail to the bottom of Desolation Valley and then another to the top where we found the boiling lake. Though it's hard to say that some of it was even a trail...it really felt like I was just walking through the jungle, willingly following a man with dreads named Moses.



Today, I am very, very sore. I've been aiding my aching muscles with a mix of lotion and bay oil. Bay oil is the local Tiger Balm or Icy Hot. You cannot put it directly on your skin because it will cause a burn, but mixed with coconut oil or lotion it is great for relaxing sore, tense muscles. My calves are hard as rocks. I think I may need a bucket of bay oil to get me through the rest of today.

So, I will be home in a few days and I have been journaling the prior day's adventures each evening. That has given me time to digest everything and hopefully write humorous stories to go back and read later. I plan to put the stories up online when I return, so I promise you will hear more about my solo adventure. For now, I hope you all enjoyed your weekend and make it safely through the rest of Monday. If you struggled with it...go home, relax and find your inner paradise. If you didn't...maybe you should do the same. Paradise is ire for everyone.

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