Location: Roseau, Dominica

Today was the Boiling Lake hike in Dominica, dreaded for some, feared for others, and long-awaited for everyone else. We got an early start to the morning and headed out in two vans for the hike at about 8:00 am. Zack could barely stay in his seat because he was so excited. On the other hand, some of us wished the drive could continue on to the very top of the hike. After the beautiful drive around Dominica, we finally arrived at the trailhead and piled out of the vans, ready for an adventure. It started out easy, a paved path that led through the trees, but that only lasted about 100ft. It quickly turned to dirt and log path leading us deep into the rainforest with birds chirping all around. In the beginning, our journey was not too strenuous, though we all tried to hop over puddles to prevent our shoes from getting dirty. We went up and down and up and down the terrain, hopping on rocks to cross a river, and then headed up and up and up, surrounded by so much green. The trail got steeper. The logs got farther apart, but we pushed on until we reached the highest point in the hike. Next, we headed for the Valley of Desolation. However, getting there was quite a challenge. We came upon a stretch of stairs and headed down to the valley that was covered in mud. Lexie’s method was to go quickly and keep forward momentum to keep from falling. Some of us had better success “skiing” down the mud-covered stairway, trying to navigate around the trees and keep going down, down, down.

The cleanliness of our shoes was no longer of much concern. Instead, the goal was to try not to be covered in mud from head to toe. We finally made it through the mud trap and kept on climbing down to the Valley of Desolation, where we found rocky, treeless terrain and a hot spring. Our guide, Pancho, kindly boiled eggs for us in hot water. We also enjoyed Pancho’s fish salad sandwiches, and after refueling, we were ready to proceed. However, we didn’t travel very far. A few steps down the way, we stopped to scrape some mud from the riverbed and enjoy a natural face mask. After quickly applying the mud to our faces, we marched on. Up and down, we went back into the trees and the rainforest, where we found the perfect swimming hole from the hot spring water where we could wash our face masks off. It was the hottest shower we have had since Cape Town. Most of us could have relaxed for another few hours, but it was time to move on. Lunch was in sight. After a short swim, we filled our water bottles from freshwater flowing off a leaf on the edge of the trail. It was very exciting, and several people felt the need to take a selfie to remember the magnificent moment. Hydrated and refreshed, we continued on. Up and up and up we went, and then finally, we saw the steam rising from the boiling lake. At the top, we enjoyed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and enjoyed the view. After lunch, it was time to head back. After a long trek back, a frigid, freshwater waterfall was waiting for our sore, tired, ached bodies. We jumped in, washed all the mud off our shoes, and explored before heading back to Argo for a relaxing evening.