We were talking to Carpe Diem on Shademan’s bus to the hash last week and got the seed planted in our heads about doing a hike from Grand Etang to Concord Falls. It was supposed to be all down hill, except a little at the beginning. That sounded okay to me. I asked about the trail, but received a nondecisive, “Well, it’s not just a dirt path that you follow and it can be kind of steep.” Now that still didn’t sound so bad. I’ve done worse than that sounds in Dominica. Of course, the Dominica hike nearly killed me. But my memory is short and I agreed to go along with Dave and Steve from Slow Flight. I made an announcement on the morning cruisers’ net to see if anyone wanted to join us and we received some takers: Hakan on Unicorn and Diane and Richard on Endorphin II. Hakan had done the hike a few times before but not in the past three years. Still, it was nice to have an experienced person along to help us find our way.
We took a bus to Grand Etang near Crater Lake. The hike followed the ridgeline up and down winding around Crater Lake. As you can see from the picture at the top of the page, we started virtually level with the lake and climbed and climbed until the lake looked small and distant (above).
Then we climbed some more. The ridgeline was very narrow in some places, hardly wider than our feet with a drop on either side. I am normally afraid of heights, but for some reason it didn’t bother me. Of course I didn’t stop, lean over, and look down either.
Steve took this great selfie on one of our briefs breathers, before continuing around the lake and climbing some more.
We all needed a break at the first wide spot we came across. We were getting tired of climbing, but the trail wasn’t particularly treacherous at this point.
In some of the steeper spots, someone created steps with wood and rebar. This was really helpful for our footing. On one of the steps was the strangest snail I’ve ever seen. It was kind of pretty with the snail white and pink and the shell pearly, but I wasn’t entirely sure what I was looking at until I saw it move. Even the shape of the shell is strange.
No longer circling around the lake, it started to disappear in the distance. It was really windy on the ridge and the clouds were flying past us, moving in a matter that made them seem almost alive. It made me think of a bad horror flick I saw about the fog.
It was hard hiking that high, but the views were just stunning. The vegetation was that of rain forest: green and primitive looking. I almost expected to see pterydons fly by. They could have filmed scenes for Jurassic Park here.
Speaking of big ancient-looking things, this was the biggest millipede I’ve ever seen. The picture is poor, being focused on the head, but it still shows all those legs. Amazing they don’t get tangled up!
After we finally topped the last ridge, we did less climbing. It was mostly downhill, which I thought would be easier, but the trail became more rugged and less maintained with downed trees and only indentations in the mud for footholds. It was slippery and treacherous in places. One wrong move and you could tumble down hundreds of feet. Going down was actually scarier than going up and no less strenuous. But instead of using our leg muscles to climb, we used our arm muscles to help ease ourselves down. Down and down we slowly and carefully made progress.
After 4 ½ hours of climbing up and down the countryside, we finally reached the river. Up to this point we averaged nearly one mile per hour! At the river, we turned left and carefully crossed the river stepping from one slippery rock to another. More than one of us took an unintended dip in the river. To get to the falls, we scaled large, slippery, mossy boulders.
We labored our way to the upper falls, Fontainebleau, and watched with awe as barefooted locals deftly pounced rock to rock with the agility of a mountain lion. They would sift through the leaves to find a small leggy thing, attach it to a line attached a pole, and then stick the end of the pole in the water in rock crevices. This is how they fished for crayfish. It looked very labor intensive for very little reward, but perhaps you would say the same thing about our hike.
After resting at Fontainebleau, we walked downstream to Concord Falls. There were a few concession and souvenir stands open and we enjoyed a nice cold drink. Most everyone had a beer. I had a Ting, my new favorite drink in the islands. It is a grapefruit lightly carbonated soda similar to Squirt. From here, we still had to walk to the main road. My feet were glad for a rest, but we had to press on. Along side the road were goats and cows grazing. One goat was lying in the shade and didn’t look too happy to have its picture taken. I thought it looked rather evil.
Grenadians are so nice. As we walked, we met a woman working in the garden. We complimented her on her fruit trees and she asked if we wanted some ripe bananas to help us on our walk. She directed us to a pile of leaves covering a small harvest. She insisted we take a whole bunch with us, but wouldn’t accept payment. Then we met a man in front of his house. I asked him if the tree was a French cashew tree. He said it was and asked if we wanted some. I asked for just one to try and there was one hanging fairly low, but he scrambled up the tree, scaling it barefoot higher and higher and tossed down 8-10 fruits before we could get him to stop. We gave him $5EC (US$1.75) for his trouble, for which he voiced his thanks repeatedly. We didn’t want that many fruit, but it was really cool to see him just climb right up like that. Finally back to the main road, we took a bus back to St Georges for lunch/dinner. The hike took the entire day and I know I am going to feel it for days to come. This was not a hike for the faint hearted!