We followed our crazy but exhilarating canyoning adventure in Dominica with what the Lonely Planet dubbed as the Nature Island‘s “pre-eminent trek.” A 12-mile roundtrip hike over very steep (mostly on steps and lots of switchbacks), muddy, wet, windy, foggy, rainy terrain – the Boiling Lake hike was indeed a trail to conquer.
However, the trail is also spectacular and provides the opportunity to experience the amazing diversity of Mourne Trois Pitons National Park, the only enlisted UNESCO World Heritage site in Eastern Caribbean.
Looking down at the magnificent Titou Gorge from the trail. It was here where scenes from “Pirates of the Caribbean” was filmed.
We were fortunate to have Nahjie, one of our excellent guides in our canyoning adventure, as our guide for this hike as well. He grew up with the rainforest as his playground and he taught us a lot about the rainforest.
Further down the trail, we learned more about the unique vegetations that grow abundantly in the rainforest of Dominica. Nahjie pointed a lot of shrubs and herbs and their medicinal benefits as well as trees and their practical uses for the locals.
There were so many huge trees like this surrounded by hanging roots from straggler trees. We also saw and heard rainforest birds throughout the trail as well as some small tropical animals. The good news is – nothing poisonous thrives in here!
After a steep climb the trail dropped toward Trois Piton River, where hikers can fill their water bottles with the fresh spring water. (Had we known that there were sources of drinkable water along the trail, we wouldn’t have lagged huge amount of water with us).
This river is also known as Breakfast River because this is normally where the hikers make their first stop to have breakfast and rest. We shouldn’t have passed the opportunity to take a break here because for an hour or so, it was all uphill from here.
After about 2 hours from the trailhead we reached the cloudy and windy Mourne Nicholls, the highest point on the trail at 3,168 ft. We experienced some very short burst of rain up to this point. They were so short (few seconds) that we didn’t even bother putting on rain gears (well, at least not yet).
The descent into the Valley of Desolation was the most challenging part of the trail. The trail winded through a very narrow ridge before it descends into very steep muddy steps with some rock scrambling. (The return trip was even more challenging. The ascent on the steep trail was even more wet and muddy after long burst of rain).
One of the sulphuric river we crossed on the way to the Boiling Lake. At this point, our shoes were so wet and muddy, we no longer bother stepping on the rocks to keep our shoes off the water; we wade through the water instead. (It cleaned our muddy shoes, too!)
Another source of drinkable spring water. Nahjie placed a leaf along the source to make it easier for us to gather the water.
The lake is heated by volcanic vent which causes it to boil. This Boiling Lake is the second largest in the world. The largest is the Frying Pan Lake in New Zealand. However, the locals argue that the Frying Pan is not really boiling, it only steams.
After the trials on the trail came the tribulations of making it to our destination, but then we were faced with the trial of hiking back on the same route. The return trek was even more challenging – more rain, more mud made the trail seemed steeper and longer.
After seven hours of a roundtrip hike, we celebrated with well-deserved refreshing Kubuli, a local beer, at the end of the trail. We were thrilled to pass the trials of the trail and the elements . For us, this trek was all about the journey and not the destination.
• We highly recommend the services of Extreme Dominica for canyoning and hiking trips. We found their guides highly professional, well-trained and fun! Extreme Dominica has been featured in National Geographic Traveler and New York Times.
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