Monday, December 11, 2006

Biakpa - Kulugu River waterfall hike

With a few hours of daylight remaining after settling into the Mountain Paradise Lodge, SJD and I inquired about one of the local short hikes starting from the lodge. A guide would lead us down the road and into the forest, up and down trails to a series of secluded waterfalls for a small fee. Since we spend waaaay too much time at REI with the end result being a sense of being terminally over prepared, we grabbed our Camelbaks, laced up our hikers, slathered on sunscreen and bug spray, donned our sun hats and joined our guide - Princeton.

Princeton, who apparently has not read any Bill Bryson or Jon Krakauer, headed out in a t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops, carrying a piece of brown bread. Not TEVAs or KEENS. Blue rubber flip flops, without socks. He answered all our questions as we stumbled down the road to the trail head. My question: "Why the machete?" I didn't quite make out his answer, but kinda wanted to believe I heard him say, "Oh, to clear the path of branches and weeds." Into the woods we followed to a rock ledge with a dangling rope down to the first waterfall.

SJD drops in.

We're being watched from a safe distance.

Waterfall number one. Check!

Onward and up the trail we passed through a farmer's small plot in the middle of the forest. Apparently this is on Princeton's regular loop, so our five minute visit was not an intrusion to their privacy. The husband and wife grow bananas, cocoa, avacadoes, palm oil nuts, and yams. All non-mechanized farming up to the point when they sell it in the nearest village - 3 miles away by foot, plus 1 mile in the forest. He shared that the house may last up to six years depending on the weather. The thatch roof probably three years. The three sons have left home for school or work in Accra. We thanked them for the visit and pressed on to the lodge.

Princeton eventually lead us straight up the slope of the hill to the foot of the lodge. Clearly the trails are the shortest distance between two points - not necessarily intended to be scenic, sustainable or easy to walk on in boots, flip-flops, or bare feet.

Back at the lodge, tired and hungry, we ate a simple but nicely prepared Ghanaian dinner as the sun set.

No comments: