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New York, New York
June 8, 2006
From journal Eco Trip to Dominica
by Ben the Grate
March 1, 2002
The trail will climb higher into the rainforest, and then spit you out above another area similar to the Valley of Desolation.
You'll wind down into this barren valley and across a hot grey stream and some more steam vents, and then begin the final ascent to the Boiling Lake.
Be careful near the rim, as the cliff plummets 100 feet straight down into the water. A man rappelling here lost control and fell into the boiling water, and he was in the hospital for 2 weeks and had several reconstructive surgeries to replace his burned skin!
The flat ledge above the lake is the perfect place for lunch, and you'll catch glimpses of the turbulent surface of the lake when the wind blows the steam cloud away.
Careful scramblers can descend the obvious gully to the left to reach the water, and it's a popular Dominican pastime to bring an egg (if it survives the hike!) to boil in the lake. You can do the same, or throw in your cans of beans or stew and they'll be nice and toasty in no time.
Be careful if you venture down to the lakeshore. Sulphur dioxide fumes float above the water, and these are poisonous to humans. If you stay there too long, you can pass out and eventually asphyxiate!
The route home is the same way you came, and when you get back to the Titou Gorge at the trailhead, the cool waters of the gorge and its hot spring will be most welcomed!
It will likely take 8 full hours to do the complete hike. There is MUCH elevation gain and loss, probably equivalent to 5,000 vertical feet up and down in total. This is NOT a hike for the weak, and people do have to be carried out of here with alarming frequency. Even experienced hikers I've taken with me have given up and said, "I can't make it." If you're in doubt about your physical strength, hire one of Ken Dill's professional guides (separate journal entry) who can take you on a "test hike" to a waterfall the day before, even accompany you for strength and moral support on the Boiling Lake trek.
This hike is the adventure of a LIFETIME! Don't miss it!
From journal The Last Caribbean Paradise
The trail winds past a dark crevice fed by waterfalls, through lush rainforest, across pristine rivers, and over barren, steaming valleys to the rim of a volcano's crater that has flooded with water from the rainforest. The water seeps down to the lava where it is heated to the boiling point and spews back to the surface, causing the entire surface of the lake to boil turbulently.
But the trail isn't easy. Under normal conditions, it will rain on you half the time, turning the trail into a river of slippery mud.
The trailhead is easily accessible by car or bus from the Laudat power station. Continue walking down the dirt road past the power station and across the bridge to the big sign marked "BOILING LAKE TRAIL - dangerous do not attempt without a guide!"
Well, that's a bunch of malarkey. If you're a strong hiker, the trail is clear the whole way, a guide just helps to interpret the sights.
The trail begins at the Titou Gorge, a dark crevice filled with rushing water. You can swim up it past a succession of waterfalls if you're strong. At its mouth where the rocks are orange is a hot spring to relax under.
The trail climbs through the rainforest to a high ridge, then drops down into the valley of the Breakfast River an hour into the hike. Cross the river carefully (normally it is waist deep) and then the fun begins.
The trail climbs STEEPLY up to the peak of Morne Nichols, one of the windiest spots you'll ever experience. If you're not shrouded in clouds, the views across the Caribbean are spectacular.
Then you begin the steep and treacherous descent into the Valley of Desolation, a rainforest destroyed by the last eruption. It is now a barren landscape of hissing steam vents and boiling mud pools. The trail becomes indistinct, just make for the lowest part of the valley where you see rainforest (or just follow the water).
Shortly after the trail re-enters the rainforest, you'll hear a waterfall to your left. You've seen many waterfalls thus far, so what makes this one special?
It's HOT! Yes, sir, the water plunging over this 10 foot falls is steamy hot from the Valley of Desolation, and I'd spend the rest of my life under it, if I could.
You continue down, finally crossing a hot stream, and them climb for a bit longer into the rainforest.
**PLEASE SEE PART 2!**