22nd March 2022
Prickly Bay, Grenada
If anyone ever says ‘It’ll be fine’, then you know it’s not going to be fine and if they say ‘no problem’ this is interpreted as there is a big problem. Using the same reasoning if a hike is described as a ‘challenging hike’, having ‘precipitous drops’, is ‘vertigo inducing’, and you’re recommended to ‘take a change of clothes’ then it should be more of a stroll than a hike and literally a walk in the park. Oh how wrong could we be.
Lots of the hard work of hiking uphill had been taken away by the bus that zipped up the hills at breakneck speed. As we were disgorged in the heart of the national park we were surrounded by a plague of pasty cruise ship passenger so we made a beeline for the start of the trail and this is when were met by the steely glare of a policeman.
He beckoned us over as we were literally going against the crowds and he tried to point us in the ‘right direction’, which for us was very much the wrong direction. We explained our plan was to hike the high peaks of Mount Qua Qua and then descend to sea-level through 10k of dense impenetrable jungle to the Concord Falls. At this he exclaimed ‘Wow. Good luck. That’s quite a walk’.
In to the jungle we trudged and within moments were romping through quagmires up to our ankles and scrambling up near vertical slides of mud. One slip would eject us over the side of the ridge where we hoped the jungle would catch us.
After the high peaks where we had the view of the inside of a cloud a signpost pointed us in the right direction. To the right was the well trodden path to the top and to the left the sign pointed to a track no wider than a shoe where the jungle was doing everything it could to reclaim this patch of unclaimed soil.
Hour after hour we battled our way down and the description was proving to be scarily accurate. It was ‘challenging’, precipitous drops came thick and fast and vertigo clouded our minds. If we weren’t battling these challenges, we were battling our way along a river where rocks were covered in slippery slime and every step threatened to twist our ankles.
The going was slow and tough and with lunchtime approaching we found ourselves a rock to settle on where we were almost lulled into slumber by the tweeting of birds and the babbling of water. With miles still in front of us we couldn’t loiter and there was the constant danger that the ‘path’ would simply disappear and the only way out would be to retrace our steps. Then the path the disappeared!
Following what we thought that was path ended abruptly with high cliffs on both sides and the river disappearing through rocks the size of houses. Deciding to turn around and retrace our steps the semblance of the path that we’d been following was now invisible. We were deep in the forest, with no discernible way out, and no idea which way to turn.
Slowing scrambling back up river we stumbled upon our lunch spot and took to once again finding the path. High up above us we spied a sprig of dirtied yellow tape denoting the way forward, we now just had to get to it. Using tree roots for handholds and making divots with our shoes for footholds we were once again back on the ‘path’ and we started to tentatively seek out the yellow tape that marked our way. The path was non-existent and the only things leading us back to civilisation were these tiny, almost invisible markers.
As the miles went on the path became steeper and steeper, this was no longer a hike it was a climb. Instead of facing forwards we pushed our faces close to the cliffside searching for grip and footholds and then we emerged into the world of man.
With a single step we moved from the dark wild side of the jungle into a manicured controlled and safe world of tourism. We were a stark contrast to all those around us as they stood in clean clothes smelling of soap and not deserving the waterfalls, we were covered head to toe in mud, endured hardships and the waterfall was our reward and not just a destination. While the tourists looked at us with distain, we gained a mountain of respect from the guides at the bottom. They were amazed we’d made it down, in one piece, had only got lost once and said it was ‘fun’.
The waterfall was a shower and washing machine all in one as we removed the grime from every surface of our skin, clothes and shoes; we power-washed the mud out of our pores and emerged like new people. This was a walk that was ‘challenging’, it had ‘precipitous drops’, we suffered ‘vertigo’ and the ‘good luck’ the policeman gave us sent us down safely.
If you see this after your page is loaded completely, leafletJS files are missing.