BOILING LAKE IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART

Last night Johannes made us a huge veggie lasagne, but because we had so many leftovers and fish we barely ate it. That morning I packed up the whole lasagne, some boiled eggs, granola bars and as much water as I could carry. Here we go – 6 miles in and 6 miles out. 

The morning was a little rainy and cloudy which made the temperature nice and cool as we walked. Because I have wanted to do this hike since we came to Dominica last year all my excitement turned to anxiety and nerves. So much of what I read online made me fear that my body would not be capable to complete this 6 miles straight up a hill and then over a steep ridge and through a valley where one wrong move means you can burn your leg in boiling mud. 
The trail starts off at a steady incline, very comfortable, well maintained, my nerves start to disappear and I become focused on just walking. One foot in front of the other. We cross a stream and top off our water bottles. We actually start climbing down a hill. Steps made out of old logs and each of different size and depth. I wonder how I will feel on the way back out climbing these steps. We reach our first river crossing, just hop over a couple stones and you are on the way back to climbing more logs. The climb is long and sometimes steep to the point you are using hands and feet to pull yourself up. It is not scary, just muddy and slippery. 

When you get closer to the top you can feel the change in air temperature. From here you start walking along a ridge, it is not narrow and again the path is well maintained. It is absolutely incredibly beautiful! Mountains on both sides of you and you can see straight out to the Caribbean waters. Mary and I are a little slower than Matt and Johannes but Matt will always wait for a while to make sure we are doing okay. After walking over the ridge you start to climb down into the Valley of Desolution. 

The steps are tedious because of the varying depths and how slippery it is. I want to look up around me because it is beautiful to watch the clouds blowing over the mountains as the wind howls. I just have to stop sometimes to take it all in because I am not in a race, besides it gives me a chance to catch my breathe and make sure Mary is doing okay. 

Now we are scrambling down rocks and along a small trail into the valley. The colors around us are bright red and yellow hues. The trail is very well marked and I do not imagine stepping and burning myself but we are careful all the way through. Now the trail starts winding around the river that is fed from the boiling valley. Many people stop and take hot baths in this area. We continue along traversing back and forth and up and down. We can see the steam coming from the boiling lake and know we are getting closer. My legs are tired but my spirit is strong and eager to get to the finish line. 


One more big climb and just around the corner we see the lake. I am so thrilled, all that fear and anxiety, and this was the most beautiful hike I have ever done. We take our photos and sit down to eat the lasagne. Everyone around us is making comments about how they want lasagne as they eat their sandwiches. One of the guides comes over to ask for some and we gladly give him a plate full and chat about his experience as a guide and what he enjoys on the island, where he is from, etc. He is asking us similar questions when he spots Mary and immediately is attracted, we all tease the two of them and they take a photo together. 

Newly energize we make the walk up the river, through the valley, up the mountain and back down.  At some point Johannes disappears in front of us and climbs all over the valley taking photos. Must be nice to be 26 and in shape. There is one final reward waiting for us at the end of this hike and it is not the ladies selling beer. 

Titou Gorge is a rock canyon that you swim up to discover a waterfall and if you are strong enough you can play in it. The water is about 15 feet deep so you swim the whole way. The water is so cold that you immediately forget about the long hike you just went on and start to feel like a kid discovering a new secret hiding spot. Matt is trying to climb up the rocks and even jumps off them into the water. Johannes is playing in the fountain, as if he is taking a shower. We stretch our muscles and feel so good that we were able to accomplish a memorable experience. 

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