Valley of Desolation & Boiling Lake - Part 6
It's turns dirty on the return leg.
Where we had walked diligently around any muddy spots on the way in, we were so tired and the ground was so sloppy it didn't make any difference anymore what we did. We were muddy, getting muddier.
One hiker abandons the path and tries walking the narrow ridge above it to see if she can make better time that way. She slips and--instead of falling to her left, and plummeting down the mountain--she ends up straddling the ridge. She catches her breath and rejoins us in the trench-like trail.
We wash off when we get down to Breakfast River. Some water bottles we left here to chill earlier are quickly drained.
Even the hikers in their early twenties are slowing down. One is sitting and cleaning his shoes off in the water, his legs visibly shaking from fatigue. My own are numb.
The first phase, so easy when the hike began, now looked strange and unfamiliar. How many days ago was it that we passed this way? Didn't I experience something similar to this in a previous life: the Bataan Death March?
Near the end we have a look at another amazing Dominican phenomenon, the Titou Gorge, which we'd ignored in our anticipation to climb. The sides of this narrow, deep gorge undulate, indicating it was not cut by the river which now washes through it.
Instead, as the molten lava was cooling, it split and pulled apart, almost as a drying mud puddle splits and cracks. I found these facts difficult to appreciate until we were back at our vehicles and I was able at last to sit, knowing I did not need to move again that day unless I wanted to.
It was 3 days before my legs stopped hurting. Everyone on the hike reported a similar condition. Yet local guides make the walk 2 or 3 times a week in season.
They have my great respect.
Would I ever do it again? Maybe...