Sometimes you have to wonder how we cruisers find anything. Today 18 of us set off for Paraclete Falls, a cascade that has not been sighted by tourists since Hurricane Ivan. Of course, we didn’t get this information until we were making our way down a 65-degree muddy incline to a trail hidden from sight, invisible even to our able, local guide, Winston.
We also didn’t learn about the description of Paraclete Falls until after our taxi driver dropped us off miles from Port Louis Marina. According to the Grenada Explorer, Paraclete Falls is “…not for the faint of heart.”
After hiking up for several hundred yards over an asphalt surface, we stopped to admire the view and pick local fruit. Winston picked some guavas for us and pointed out the nutmeg trees loaded with the spice that grows at higher elevations.
Then we reached the point where the rubber did not meet the road: the bush. We hiked along a grass-covered trail. Winston hacked away at greenery that stood in our way. He also used his machete to carve steps into the muddy hillside. Our fearless organizer, Brandon Wyrick, joked that newspaper headlines would read: “White Hikers Slashed by Machete-Wielding Grenadian.”
After 90 minutes we had reached the incline that tested us all. Winston and Derek, another guide, chopped some bamboo down for us to use as walking sticks. Winston explained that the best time to cut the thick stalks was during a full moon, the only time when the bamboo will retain its strength.
We tried various methods to get down the slope: pushing ourselves against our walking sticks, sliding on our butts, skiing on bare feet and tumbling down as Jack did when fetching a pail of water. After a few hundred yards, there was still much ground to cover. Winston put it at an hour, but our group wasn’t as optimistic.
Thankfully, Gregg Merkel had had enough. He was concerned that the trail ahead was too risky for his six-year-old son, Quinn, who has been tested on many hashes. Gregg began to turn back as did the rest of us.
Winston then offered another alternative: He knew a different route to reach the falls that would be easier, faster. Some of our group followed in his footsteps; some did not. Those who abandoned the effort returned to Grenville and passed the time at Thriving Restaurant, an amazingly good Chinese restaurant that has become a favorite among the locals. The other, hearty souls followed Winston down a slope that appeared as difficult as the first. In about an hour’s time, they had reached the falls and enjoyed a refreshing splash under the pounding water.