Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Boiling Lake Boiling Lake, Dominica, Sunday, 03 January 2016 12:19pm

We more than made up for our lazy day yesterday with a hike to Boiling Lake. I'm used to padded hiking times, which assume that the average hiker is an out-of-shape American, but I'm clearly the out-of-shape American here. It's billed as a 6 hour hike, but it took us 7. My phone's motion sensor said that we'd covered 454 stories of stairs over 22,000 paces, for a distance of about 10.5 mi.

We had a perfect day for it. Cool enough that we were comfortable. Only occasionally drizzling. Periodic sunbursts so we could see everything. The terrain was nice and varied. It started with a hike up through a lush rain forest, full of ferns and moss. After a few hours, we crested the peak and hiked down into the Valley of Desolation.

The Valley is a volcanic slope with water running through it, so there are cool streams, warm streams, and some very hot pools and bubbling mud puddles. There's a mixed palette of colors: yellow for sulfur, white for calcium, red for iron, and black for carbon. Some of the streams looked inky, while others were a pale gray.

Our guide, Nahjie, cooked us a snack of boiled eggs in one of the vents and had us try a pumice mud mask at the source (my skin is so soft now!). He was really great throughout the hike. It seemed like a lot of the guides were mostly just there to make sure their charges didn't fall off the trail and die, but Nahjie obviously enjoys what he does and provided a wealth of information about the plants and the history of the area.

Seeing the lake boil took a bit of patience, since there's so much steam that you have to wait for the breeze to shift to get a good view, but it was pretty impressive.

The hike out was a little easier because a lot of the scrambles were now uphill and, thus, less awkward. I got to put a little of my bouldering technique to use, but had to be careful because a lot of the surface was mud or unstable rock.

My quads were pretty unhappy when we started on the way back, and really pissed off at me by the time we finished.

I think it was lucky that we didn't get a rental car yesterday, because the drive across the island to our next hotel would have been really difficult in the dark while we were exhausted. I was probably asleep by about 9.