Hiking the Paria Trail | Local features

THE teenagers were in awe of the multicolored crab that crossed their path along the fringes of the Tacaribe forest.

“Look, a rainbow crab!” one pointed to the other, “so pretty!”

The second boy was busy trying to catch an elusive butterfly among the understory leaves.

“Come here and see this rainbow butterfly. I’m trying to catch him but I need help!

He quickly gave up and joined his brother in exclaiming over the bright colors of the Caribbean hermit crab.

The two were part of a family reunion camping trip along the Paria Coastal Path and spent every minute of their stay exploring the outdoors.

They referred to the pretty birds in the area as “rainbow birds” and the list goes on.

These families were part of a larger group of outdoor-loving Trinbagonians who took advantage of every last moment left for the school holidays. Groups of hikers had gathered the previous week to hike the entire trail from Matelot to Blanchisseuse and despite some parts of the trail presenting challenges in terms of falling trees and landslides, the day was a success overall.

This trail is generally maintained on both sides, but due to the effects of recent bad weather, the less used portion between Petit Rivière and Madamas has fallen into disrepair.

A gardener lamented that he always has to work his way through the tangle that blocks the path. The good news is that hikers have since taken minor off-trail detours to keep up the momentum of the 23-24 mile hike.

Some groups have since taken the time to get back on the trail to spend more time at the many natural sights they had traversed so hurriedly in a limited amount of time. They visit the larger rivers and their many pools and the countless small beaches where a day of fun can be spent. The wild and rocky coastal landscapes present photographic opportunities that have been overlooked on previous day trips.

Appreciate the fauna and flora

The rivers in the north of the range as well as the beaches of our country are very busy at the moment. A lesser-known waterfall site at Brasso Seco has become a treat for those looking for the most secluded and quiet spots along our rivers where there is less risk of overcrowding as the day progresses.

This twin waterfall and its beautiful pool provide a welcome retreat. The short hike up the road involves two bank detours due to deeper water in alternating mini-gorges, but these don’t present too much of a challenge for the average outdoor-loving family.

These short hikes provide families with the leisure to walk at a leisurely pace, more time to notice and appreciate the flora and fauna along the way, and of course extended quality time at the fall pool.

The holiday period from July to August is a favorite time for outdoor enthusiasts who love waterfall sites as this is the time when the volume of water is at its peak. According to some hikers, the dry season is ideal for activities such as caving and mountaineering.

Having learned the ideal times to plan hikes the hard way, one soldier remarked that the waterfalls are best during the rainy season. He made the observation after taking his family to Edith Stream last year. The disappointed family encountered a bare rock wall with sporadic water drops depending on the direction of the breezes. There was a small puddle of standing water at the base.

On his solo return in August, just out of curiosity, he was able to enjoy a fair amount of water right after a night of heavy rain.

It is reminiscent of the status of the Carmelita waterfall in Gran Couva which only comes alive during the rainy season. This year has seen a generous amount of flow, even in areas such as along roadside cliffs across the range where waterfalls had become a ‘long standing thing’.

Our tallest accessible single drop waterfall in Maracas has been transformed into two voluminous columns of water several times over the past few weeks of heavy rain. A close experience of its power is risky as the trail is cut by raging waters which break at several points. Unless you know the ridge passages, it is better to enjoy them from afar.

A benefit of this holiday season is that there are fewer reptiles looking for water, with most retreating to the driest place they could find at the time.

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