Thursday, August 6, 2015

Qua(ck) Qua(ck) - Like A Duck

Steve (Slow Flight), John & Ashley (Baby Blue), Allison (boat sitting on Cavu) and us (the Mowzers) set off bright and early on Tuesday morning for a hike in the Grand Etang Forest Reserve.  Grand Etang is a little lake that fills an old volcano crater next to Mt. Qua Qua in the central region of Grenada, and the plan was to take the bus all the way up to the visitor centre and then hike down to the east coast following the Concord River to the falls.  Sounded good to us, although to be fair we really didn’t have much of an idea of what this would really entail.  We’re now learning that hiking in Grenada means that you will be covered in mud, soaked right through and will need at least a few recovery beers to set you on your way.

We hopped on a #1 bus into St. George’s, where we changed over to the big #6 bus that would carry us up high into the mountains.  By the time we arrived at the top the temperature was distinctly cooler and we were surrounded by a thick mist.  The stall-keeper where we picked up a few snacks corrected me when I commented on, “if we get wet…” to “WHEN you get wet…” and by then we had an inkling of what we were in for.  We wrapped up the camera in a towel and waterproof bag and got ready for what the mountain would dish up.

Here’s a map-view of what we ended up doing for the day - green is bus, purple is hike and by the end of the day we had walked 20 very hilly kilometres (12.5 miles).

We started off heading towards the peak of Mt. Qua Qua where occasionally the mist parted and we were treated to a tempting but fleeting glimpse of the lake at Grand Etang.  

Ashley, John, Allison, Steve - on the ridge leading to Mt. Qua Qua.

Grand Etang lake peeking through the mist.

We followed along the ridge until the trail picked up the source trickle of the Concord River and from there we proceeded downwards, criss-crossing the river at regular intervals.  We quickly gave up any attempt to keep our feet clear of the mud and as it started to rain any sense of dryness also evaporated.  Much of the trail slipped along the side of the mountain, sometimes with footholds carved into the muddy banks, sometimes with actual steps but at other times we used trees and vines to get ourselves down the slopes.  

Footprints leading the way.

This is what the bus drivers don't want to see!

Picture the picture - mountain orchid in bloom

So convenient of the Liana vines to be just here.

As the rain came down harder and harder the river started to swell until our last crossing where we tossed our backpacks across the water and used a bamboo pole to hang onto as we were chest-deep in the rushing water.  Knowing that we couldn’t cross the river again, we admired the falls and then got ourselves out of the valley before the water got much higher.

This was as close as we could get to the upper falls as more and more rain fell.

Looks like it's beautiful up there.

Wet but happy.

John & Ashley clambering over the boulders.

The final part of our trail disappeared on the other side of the river, but conveniently enough a local guy who knew his way through the plantations led us out to the top of the road, right beside the beer and gift shacks at the lower falls.  

John and Ashley, who had visited the falls earlier, told us that they had been able to clean up with a swim in the pool at the bottom of the falls, but today was a different matter with all the water rushing down from the slopes above.

The bus driver pulled out a big garbage bag for us to put all our wet bums upon and hopefully save the next passenger from a soaked behind, and by the time we arrived back in St. George’s at about 5:30 in the afternoon we were quite ready for dinner.

Made it back to the bus station in St. George's

There's a tunnel in the middle of town - doubt there's any ventilation and it's about 500 meters long, but it short cuts through the hill. 
A beautiful view over the Carenage Harbour, from the Nutmeg Restaurant.

The sun goes down as we make our way around the Carenage.

The Nutmeg restaurant served up a delicious rum punch and roti and once satisfied we set off again for an evening stroll along the bay until we finally cried “uncle” for our feet and took the bus back to the roundabout, which is the closest drop point to Mt. Hartman Bay.  Conveniently though, the West Indies Brew Pub is located a little way into the rest of the walk so we stopped for just one more refreshment before dragging our very tired, and very muddy feet back to our boats in the bay.