“I hate hiking,” said Mikayla as we made our way up a rocky trail from Capuchin to Penville, Dominica. “I hate hiking uphill in the heat.”
Today our intrepid hikers tackled Segment #14, including the Waitukubuli Trail, in the national park system. The distance is either five or seven miles depending on whether one begins the journey from the Capuchin trailhead or the one in Penville and which sign one believes.
Once more our companions are Anna-Karin Sundquist and Hakan Borjesson of s/v Unicorn who in 2009 hiked this trail twice. The same sign marks the beginning. It’s a For Sale sign put up by an optimistic landowner.
Unlike many other Caribbean islands, Dominica emphasizes its natural beauty over high-rise hotels, resorts and casinos to draw tourists. Lucky for us. The lush greenery seems to explode from every crevice along the trail. Trees bearing coca beans, oranges, mangoes, guavas and coconuts offer their tempting fruits. Lizards scatter among the stones, remnants of the seven volcanoes, now inactive, on the island. The ever-present bananquits, spotted now and then, whistle to one another from perches high atop the palms.
The trail is marked well, carrying a yellow and blue blaze, similar to the one we found in Terre-de-Bas. Beyond a curious burro, the trail begins to climb in a series of switchbacks until it reaches a height of 180 feet. Shortly after Mikayla shares her displeasure with hiking in the heat, we come across a magnificent panorama of Guadeloupe shining in the distant sea. The mountain breeze blows away our discomfort, briefly, and we break for lunch while looking out upon the ocean.