This island surprises me with every new area I see. It’s so diverse, and each place makes you feel like you’re in unexplored territory. This has to be why they chose to film Pirates of the Caribbean here. The sets are gone, but it must have been great to see Johnny Depp running across a bridge and locals running after him to “eat him.”
Our trip up to Freshwater Lake brought us those surprises. In one day, we did five hikes totaling over 6 miles not including the elevation, but this was my favorite.
As we drove up the mountain to the National Park the visibility turned to nothing. Since it was early, there was thick fog blocking us from seeing past the edge of the road. In our minds, we were surrounded by nothing. In reality, we were driving on cliffs hidden by our new friend.
We got to the parking lot at around 9:30 AM and the fog hadn’t died down. We could see only bits of the massive lake that runs most of Dominica’s electric grid. All we saw was an eery, dense sheet of fog intent on keeping the lake from us. At the time, I didn’t doubt that the Black Pearl would drift into our view from its hidden resting place.
Not wanting to deal with any pirates, we started our hike. The Freshwater Lake has a trail that circles it in an hour, ending back at the entrance to the parking lot. The booklet claims it’s an easy-moderate trail, but going at the start of the rainy season completely changed that.
It’s a well-built trail, with wooden “steps” the entire way, but on this day it had challenges. We had the fog surrounding us, completely limiting our concept of where we were, and immersing us in this jungle. This left us in solitude. It was peaceful, but it added to our main problem.
Each step was rotting because of the moisture, and we had to always watch our footing. We wanted to enjoy what view we had, but couldn’t after realizing that the next log might be like ice. If someone broke an ankle up here, we’d have issues. The rush of this challenge made ending up on top of a mountain, in the clouds, that much more empowering.
We had now re-learned and mastered how to “walk.” Our new trouble came when we had to make our way down from the peak. We were finally in a groove, and it was crushing to see what looked like the tip of a rollercoaster in front of us. It became the kind of walking where you consider turning around and going back the way you came. But, it felt great when we got to the bottom.
After being on top of the world, the end was much calmer, even zen-like. It’s how I’d imagine hiking in an Asian jungle is; dark, but full of moisture and wilderness all around you. It was a place where you look off the path and imagine a tiger jumping out at you. Luckily, there’s no dangerous animals or critters here.
As quickly as we started, we were back out on the street walking down the road. The huge, empty lot we had left an hour before was now crowded with school kids. Somehow they had managed to get the two biggest buses on the island, and park right next to us.
Leaving them behind to take selfies, we got back on the road to Boeri lake; our next adventure for the day. More on that later.
As I said, this has been my favorite hike so far. If you are ever in Dominica, make sure to make your way up there.