Except for a very brief period of time, say 2004, I’ve never considered, nor called myself a hiker, a hiking enthusiast, nor an avid outdoorsman. This is not because of the rather rotund body shape genetics has helped bless me with, but more so because I am incredibly lazy.
I have a fondness for the more modern sport, which includes aerobic lounging on the bed/floor/couch, video game of some sort in hand, book nearby, or even the yogaesque binging of Netflix. I’m lazy, and I readily admit it. Sometimes I find the sheer thought of having to leave the house on a weekend simply exhausting, and must nap in order to prepare myself for the event – usually telling Monkey that I’m going to ‘meditate’, so as to ensure ample quiet time.
But once I hoist myself into action, I have found that there are a few outdoorsy interests I possess. One of course being polo – which is by no means an easy sport to play here on island. Because I suck? Well perhaps, but mostly because Dominica is blessed with an inordinate amount of rainfall (which is perfect for my meditations), which quickly saturates the field, rendering them unusable. But also, I have developed a fondness for snorkeling, which again, is just my lolling about the sea as if it was my bed or couch. And I do enjoy stomping about in the river – one of my favourite activities.
One of the selling points of Dominica, The Nature Isle, is the abundance of hiking available. Well, I am not a hiker. I can be a good sport about it, but I don’t prefer it. I enjoyed Victoria Falls (both times!), and was successful in avoiding any invites to participate in other hikes. I did however want to see Syndicate Falls – because it is extremely close to our house, and the trail seemed fairly easy. (It was actually, embarrassingly easy, but that’s another story).
As Coco prepared to leave the island, he got a bit clingy out of nostalgia. And having avoided his 143 invites to hike, I felt guilty and agreed to go on the ‘short’ hike to Middleham Falls with him. (Remember, I said I was not a hiker, and that I was a good sport.)
I hadn’t looked into this Middleham Falls, and took his word for it that it would be an easy hike. Following our canoe battle at Freshwater Lake, I parked by the side of the road, where the trail sign was marked, and set out on our path. Being a ‘short’ and ‘easy’ hike, I casually left my water in the car and set out.
If you’re the good kind of lazy like me, the serious kind, you know the feeling of embarrassment when you’re walking up a hill and start finding it difficult to breathe. Holding your breath, trying to appear normal, quietly wondering to yourself “how do I get out of this”?
Well that shit happened within the first 10 minutes of the hike. Quietly (probably not so), separating myself from Coco and Sarah so I could admire some leaves and catch my breath. Gazing fondly towards where the car would be, I wondered if it would be too suspicious to twist an ankle. I caught my breath, and slowly caught up to the group, and then repeated this break. After walking an agonizing period of time, lo and behold, we came across a sign marking the start of the trail.
What the fuck? What was this shit I had just walked? And for what? I shrugged my shoulders, hitched up my pants (which were wet from the lake), put on my good sport hat and trudged forth.
While Sarah scampered ahead, Coco in the middle and me in the rear, we headed on the trail at our own respective paces. The weather was nice, cool, misty, and the area was fairly heavily wooded, and I thought, this won’t be so bad. I paused here and there to take a few dozen bad photos, one of which this house:
Suddenly there became a plethora of ‘’stairs’’. I use the term loosely, because I’m sure there’s a proper term used by the hiking community for “bullshit, steep logs placed at various heights that either make you trip, and exhaust yourself getting onto the next one”. “This is utter fuckery!”, I thought and moved myself up the incline.
Turning the corner, I saw what was ahead, and all semblance of a good sport angrily disappeared from my persona. This shit was not stopping, not evening out, but only becoming more and more bullshit stairs. Sure, some were actually downhill, which seemed like a blessing except in the back of your mind you knew that meant uphill on the return walk – and each stair was a knee jarring affair.
And then the rain happened. Not a pleasant drizzle, not a shower, but one of the torrential island downpours.
And then more stairs happened.
Time passed, and soon, the rain paused, and a most glorious waterfall appeared before us. I rested and berated myself for not having anything to drink. Politely taking a sip from a bottle that was offered to me (which, if you know me, is demonstrating huge restraint).
Inevitably, we had to walk back, since no one had the forethought to erect a tram system. Coco lingered back, keeping me company as I plodded along. To acknowledge this, I simply said “fuck you Coco”, on each and every stair.
And then the rain started.