Hikeseekers Hike to Sombasson Falls

by hiker Kathy Marsh s/v Tundra (featured in The Boca – T&T’s monthly waterfront magazine)

On the approach to Mother’s Day last year in Trinidad, there was a cheery announcement on channel 68 informing all cruisers of an impending hike with Snake of the Hikeseekers. My husband, Brian, suggested that we might sign up for this Mother’s Day hike. Needless to say, I was delighted!

Muscat, the maxi-taxi driver, picked twelve of us up at 0630 and we were on our way to Arima. “We were ill-prepared,” Snake said, “Where are the long pants, long sleeves, socks, boots?”OK, we would make the best of it! We were in great company of about 12 yachties and 12 Trinis. One of the Trini gals hiked the whole trail in her street shoes! Off we went, up and down hills, through forests and across streams and it didn’t take long to become soaked with perspiration.

En route we managed to pick up hiking sticks that were most helpful. Questioning our endurance, Brian said jokingly that he hoped there was a helicopter pad close by! Stopping at a clearing, to make sure we were all still accounted for, Snake pointed out a huge nest of leaf cutting ants, but we weren’t sure about the trees. Lunch at the water- fall was pleasant including a swim.When Snake started putting on his several layers, plus bright orange coveralls, Brian and I started scaling the trail hoping to make some headway. Around the next corner, Snake and company tied a rope alongside so people could brace their descent and not slip into a gorge below! Our five pints of water were depleted so we filled them in a stream crossing. Better parasites than dehydration! Our return trip was an alternate route where we scrambled over and under logs. One was a huge fallen tree. Someone had chopped several axe steps across it but I didn’t think I could make it. Brian got across and with his help; I too managed to get across just barely. The alternative was a 100-foot drop down the mountainside!Muscat was our hero of the day. He hoisted one of the children onto his shoulders for the return hike. Passing through a deserted orange orchard was a saving grace as well. Here Muscat and the men cut up oranges for us and we ate them ravenously. What energy this little juicy fruit can impart!

The sun was well down in the western sky as we single filed down a hill. Lana, on Muscat’s shoulders, shrieked. She had come eye to eye with a real snake. Our Snake went into action and retrieved the treed snake! On we went again to the parking area in time to wave to Snake as he drove away. Having a healthy sense of adventure, I was disappointed not to see either snake at the end of the trail.

One male Trinidadian who hiked along with us, said he’d been on many of Snake’s hikes, but never one so long and arduous. Also he mentioned that most Trinis over the age of 30 don’t hike! So, with all said and done, Mothers take heed. Since then I have discovered a hike schedule in the Boca that lists the nature of Snake’s hikes. No pun intended… Happy Mother’s Day.

Hikeseekers Hike to Guanapo Gorges

by Salisha Ali

On Sunday 4th May 2003, my mother and I decided to do something enlivening and refreshing which included the aesthetics of nature. So, we decided to join the Hike Seekers Group and hike to Guanapo Gorges. Having not been on a hike for about three years aback, we thought Guanapo Gorges to be the best hike to start with since the hike master, Mr. Lawrence “Snake” Pierre described it as, “an easy and exciting journey.”

Well, it first started with a 4 1/2 mile up hill walk into the beautifully forested area of Guanapo. It was cool, relaxing and absolutely breath taking to be surrounded by so much beauty. Just picture in your mind, walking among tall trees and plants, smelling sweet fresh air, with various birds making eccentric sounds and when you look ahead, you can see the pure blue sky with soft white clouds almost touching the green sheet like top of trees.

Then, the adventure begins once you’ve met the river. In other words, out goes the “Mills and Boons” and in steps “Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys.” There we were, about 40 of us of mixed ages and gender, standing in between these two extremely tall and narrow mountains with the winding, cold river ahead of us. As we started to proceed walking into the river, it suddenly rose from waist to neck deep and then of course, the swimming began. But, you need not worry because, Snake and his 4 assistant Hike Leaders were always prepared. They had life jackets and ropes and best of all, they are professional swimmers, friendly, helpful and patient. To get from one point to the next, we had to hand our bag of vital supplies to an assistant, whom in turn passed it down the line, across the river. Then, we had to swim to the other side, while taking comfort in knowing that Snake and his assistants were always close by and the rope was there for us to pull forward on.

The experience was definitely exciting so far and even got better. We found ourselves at a point whereby, we had to balance and walk across a log and then climb up a couple of rocks. Only to discover that, the way to get back down into the river was to use the one thing that connected the rocks to the river which was, a log. If you didn’t have an adrenaline rush before you definitely got one with this realization. We had to sit on the log, lock our feet underneath it and use our palms to pull us across. At the end of the log, we had to once again jump in the cold water and swim ahead.

There was a lot of tiptoe walking in the water as well and with all the rocks beneath, it was pretty tricky and challenging to get proper footing. However, we didn’t always hike on or over the rocks. Along the way, “Snake” casually said, “Oh! By the way, to continue the hike you all have to make a 10 foot jump off a rock like mountain and into a very deep part of the river. At first my mother and I thought he was joking but when we actually reached the jump site we realized that, it was as real as anything can get. “Snake” stood at the bottom of the rocks and the hike leaders were along the river stretch while one remained on top to support the group. They were very encouraging, motivational, understanding and full of positive energy. Jumping was so, “out of this world.” Everyone felt like doing it over and over again. You have to experience it yourself because, describing it with words seem to take away so much from the experience.

At the end of the river trek, we all ate and drank, socialized with our new friends and swam and last but not least, absorbed as much as we could have of part of God’s remarkable creation.

Then came the hike back up the steep, moist hill after all that adventure. “Snake” and the hike leaders, whom are always the prepared “boy scouts,” became even more jovial and cautious as they were aware that members of the group may be weary. “Snake” and his assistants are very reliable, responsible, fit and once again, I cannot stress their unwavering patience and understanding. My mother can sure testify to this as she really felt the crunch and burn on our journey back. But, hike master “Snake” never leaves any of his group behind and unfailingly, reminded my mother of childhood days by, giving her a “Piggy back” a couple of times. As I said before,

“….. you haven’t had excitement and adventure in your life unless you’ve been to Guanapo Gorges”