Windlass-less
Hash– The Grenada Hash House Harriers, That Is

Taking the Concord Trail . . . Twelve Cruisers Hike to the Falls

 

I’ve been wanting to use Gilligan’s Theme Song, for a long time.

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale,

A tale of a fateful trip

That started from this tropic port

From each crew’s tiny ship. From each crew’s tiny ship.

 

Our leaders were really fit

They run, work out and bike.

Ten cruisers joined with them that day

For a four hour hike, a four hour hike.

 

The terrain started getting rough,

The trail was muddy, narrow, and steep.

If not for spare sandals and one clothes line

We’d have been in it sh –it deep. We’d have been in it sh- it deep.

 

P8190009The cruising guides and tour books for many of these islands mention numerous trails and waterfalls and taking some of these hikes has been on our “to-do” list for some time. So, when our friends from Magic Inspiration offered to lead us on a hike to Concord Falls, we readily agreed and we’re glad we did. We’re also glad I didn’t do any research prior to setting out. Here are some of the things I would have learned:

 

 

From Geographia.com (emphasis, mine):

Fedon's Mountain & Concord Falls
eco05.jpg (19207 bytes)Advanced hikers and trekkers should not forego the opportunity to take these two more substantial hikes, which link to the Mt. Qua Qua Trail in Grand Etang. The Concord Falls trail branches off from the Mt. Qua Qua Trail after about an hour, leading down through rainforest canopy, over hilltops and gurgling brooks, to bring you to the triple cascades of the Concord Falls. …

… This well-maintained but arduous trail takes you deep into the very heart of the Grand Etang rainforest, through shady groves mahogany, teak, and many of Grenada's other tree species.

 

From Guide to Caribbean Vacations, I learned  this:

With 160 inches of rain falling annually, the hiking trails can be quite muddy and slick. Long pants are not essential if you stay on the trail path and avoid encounters with razor grass, a climbing grass with extremely sharp edges. I find it takes a long time for even minor razor grass cuts to heal.

And this from the Grenada National Parks:

CONCORD FALLS: This trail follows the rugged Mt. Qua Qua route for about an hour, and then departs left before a rocky viewpoint.  The substantial trail meanders below the rain forest canopy, crosses sparkling streams, and majestic hilltop views. Providing a good four-and-a-half-hour hike … 

IMPORTANT PRECAUTIONS

  • Grand Etang receives a lot of rain so the trails can be muddy or slippery - take care and stay on the trails for your own safety.  It is strongly advised that proper footwear, such as waterproof hiking boots be worn. 
  • There are no poisonous snakes or animals in Grenada, but watch out for razor grass (climbing grass with sharp edges) that can cause minor cuts; long pants and long sleeve shirts will protect you from abrasions.
  • Take care not to damage or take away any flora & fauna (plants or animals).

Finally, from Wiki-loc:

One of the best and more challenging trails on Grenada. ..  Impressive views and impressive drops - its very steep both sides. The path is steep in places and can be very slippery. … After this its a 3 hour slippery descent to Concord. You may find out why its called rain forest. …The end of the trail just before descending to Concorde is also challenging as you have to descend a steep rock face. If you suffer from vertigo don’t do this trail!

 

EW and I don’t have any hiking sandals, so we both wore boots, and that was a good thing. He brought his old leather Redwings aboard, and I have a wonderful pair of hiking shoes – from Eastern Mountain Sports. Good traction and breathable – and getting them wet isn’t a problem. We had water, lunches, snacks, band-aids, swim trucks for EW, and bug dope in two backpacks. As we were getting into the dinghy, EW thought of one more thing, “Where do you keep your clothes line?”  “Ummm. OK. In the cupboard up forward.” Bringing the line turned out to be a good idea, but I may never get it clean enough to hang laundry from it.

We took one of the local busses to the end of the line and joined the other 10 hikers, crowding into the Number 6 Bus to Grand Etang National Park. Along the way I had a very interesting discussion with a local gentleman who had purchased some king fish for a fish soup he was making. I’d like to try that soup. Behind me, Jeff and Sandy from Magic Inspiration were talking with the other cruisers about the shorter hike they’d taken along the same trail the day before. I perked up when I heard them mention feeding piranha type fish from a dock.

“Is that the pool we’re supposed to swim in today?” I squeaked. (I would have shrieked but we were in a small bus.) One of the local ladies squeezed in near us starting laughing. Jeff assured me that the piranha were in an entirely different pond. I began to wonder a bit about this trip.

Group Shot Concord Hike 8-19-2011 8-50-19 AM

 

At the entrance to the park, we paused for a before photo where the trail met the road. We were clean then. I don’t think my shirt will ever be the same. Starting the Concord Trail 8-19-2011 8-06-15 AM We hiked with a great group of cruisers – in addition to Jeff and Sandy, there were three other couples and a father daughter team. Most wore Keen or Teva hiking sandals, some wore sneakers. We all wore shorts over swimsuits (or as swimsuits), I had on a long sleeved shirt to protect me from the sun and was glad of it when we encountered razor grass. That stuff is nasty!

What did we use the clothes line for? To help a couple of us up over very steep muddy sections where there were no handholds. Others showed that it was possible to ascend without a rope, but since EW offered, Caryn and I accepted the help.

It was a wonderful day and I’d do it again. Really. But this was not a four hour hike for normal people. We started upright, spaced along the trail and quickly resorted to this: Caryn and Sandy 8-19-2011 8-37-59 AM 

 

 

 

 

I had remembered that Jeff and Sandy had said the hike would take four hours, so I expected a two hour hike to the falls, lunch, swimming, and a two hour hike back along the same trail. An hour into the hike I was already worried about getting back down the trail, when we stopped to enjoy the view. 

 

 

 

Sandal Repair 2 8-19-2011 9-04-52 AM

Bill’s Teva sandals had come apart in the first hour, so EW passed him the clothes line and Bill demonstrated a sailor’s make-do attitude in sandal repair. Just as he finished, Brandon and Caryn arrived at the rest stop. Brandon laughed at Bill’s repair and then said that he actually had an extra pair of Keen’s with him. I’m glad Bill didn’t have to try to hike 5 hours with the rope sandals. 

 

 

 

 

The View is Worth it 8-19-2011 8-20-42 AM

 

At that same stop, Jeff indicated we were moving more slowly than he’d expected. ”At this pace, it’ll take at least five hours to get to the waterfalls.”

“Huh? I thought this was a four hour hike! Are you saying it’s supposed to be four in and four out?”

“Oh no. It's a one way hike. Three or four hours to the falls, then an hour after that down to the road.”

 

                                                                                 Below, EW and Jeff.

Greybeards At First Rest Stop.  8-19-2011 8-20-04 AM

 

 

 

mud happens 8-19-2011 8-46-02 AMI was delighted to hear that we wouldn’t  have to retrace our steps over that steep early trail. Little did I know. We actually used the rope only during the first hour, but I don’t think the trail was easier, we simply got used to staying low, getting dirty, and using improbable hand-holds. One of the articles quoted above asked that hikers not damage any flora or fauna. We were the only fauna harmed on the hike, but a lot of flora was used to help us up the steep areas or break our fall/uncontrolled descent when heading down. EW personally killed one small banana tree. When it came out in his hands on his way down a slope, he paused, yelled at it, and threw it off the trail. We are sorry but not repentant. It was us or them.

Coming from Maine, I have climbed Mt. Katahdin, refusing to travel the Knife’s Edge. This hike had a lot of narrow sections with the ground dropping away on one or both sides. That didn’t worry me at all, as the drop was camouflaged by all that flora. in fact, I was reminded of the scene from Avatar where they drop gracefully through the leaves and branches, and imagined that these benign leaves would cushion my fall as well. (If anyone is looking for a film site for another Avatar, I can recommend the rain forest of Grenada.)

This IS the Trail 8-19-2011 10-34-09 AMDon’t get me wrong, this trek was a blast. In addition to being a great group of people, these cruisers are funny. I had brought a notebook and pen in order to record events – but they had to stay in the backpack and I’m afraid I have forgotten the best lines. I do remember standing at the top of a number of steep grades, unable to move because I was laughing too hard to pay attention to the terrain.

Mud Happened 8-19-2011 8-53-38 AMAbout three or four hours into the hike, we were heading mostly down toward the falls and were on a very steep, slippery slope. Bill had actually been down and back up that section and could direct me.

“Grab that branch there. It’s a strong one. Then you’ll see another large branch right next to you.”

I swung part way down the slope using that first strong branch and held on grimly as I looked for the next one, my feet threatening to ski down the slope.  “What branch?” I asked.

“It’s that little twig by your right hand.”

Really? A little twig? How did it go from “large branch” to “little twig” in less than 60 seconds? This safe hand hold was less than a half inch in diameter. I’d call that little. Folks behind me had to wait for me to stop laughing. If Bill had said little twig the first time I might have not been as cavalier about starting that section.

I was the first to get a muddy bottom, (I was the first to fall on my butt) but Bill Bill on the Trail 8-19-2011 11-32-26 AMwas the first to tear his shorts. Mike and I also ended up with holes in our pants. I holed my shorts because I chose to go down on the seat of my pants quite often. We all were scratched by the razor grass, and we were wet and muddy to our knees. Joanne and Joanne and Dina 2 8-19-2011 11-52-27 AMDina had been participating in the Hashes – strange two hour treks on Saturday afternoon – so they were familiar with the hiking trails in Grenada. They said that this hike (it took us six hours to get to the waterfalls) was the equivalent of three hashes. “If you can do this, you can do a hash.” I’ll consider it.

 

 

 

EW and Bamboo 8-19-2011 12-50-37 PMEW Hearted Me 8-19-2011 10-39-04 AM

EW and Bamboo                                                      EW and Heart for me.

P8190056      P8190049

 

Waterfall 1 8-19-2011 1-20-48 PMAfter the third group rest, Jeff, Sandy, and Kevin struck off ahead to scout the rest of the trail. When they arrived at the really, really steep section mentioned above -  the one that reminded me of Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” – Jeff got worried that we’d all hate him by the time we arrived at the falls, but one glimpse of Concord Falls, and a dip in the pool, washed away all of our mud and aches and pains. It was a great hike, and a beautiful, magical spot. The water was cold by Caribbean standards, though not nearly as cold as Maine’s mountain streams. We swam, ducked under the falls, and sat on submerged rocks, chatting and laughing. 

 

 

Inviting Pool 8-19-2011 1-21-10 PM

 

 

Ready for a swim 8-19-2011 1-22-25 PM

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, we ate lunch, repacked our stuff, and prepared to hike to the road. EW and I brought up the rear as it had taken a while to get back into wet muddy socks and hiking boots and EW’s knee was slightly painful. It was an easy walk over mostly level terrain, with three brooks to cross. And Beer 8-19-2011 3-10-58 PMAt the end, next to the falls visited by cruise ship passengers was a bar and gift shop. While the sign doesn’t list beer as an option,  I can assure you that they sell beer and they’ve probably replenished after our visit. I’m sure they’ve also cleaned the mud off the chairs.

We asked the bar tender to arrange an taxi for us and negotiated a rate to Port Louis Marina, where the other 10 have their boats. EW and I decided to head back to La Luna and were dropped at the bus stop outside the marina. A bus came by immediately, but the conductor got out, took one look at EW and asked him if he had a clean shirt. He did not and we were refused passage. I had taken an extra t-shirt and was wearing a clean shirt. Our shorts had been worn for swimming so they looked respectable. EW Dirty 8-19-2011 4-50-44 PMThe backpacks and EW did not, but the second bus that came along did agree to let us ride as long as EW didn’t sit back in the seat.

The whole day was a wonderful adventure. We’d do it again.

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