With the long Easter weekend ahead of us, SJD, Dan, Giselle, Sarah, Dave and I loaded up our belongings and bikes for a return trip to Biakpa Mountain Paradise.
We could not get out the door without mentioning plans to Patience. She was raised in Amedzofe - just across the valley from BMP, at much higer elevation, accessed by a steep and winding single lane road. Why we would camp when we can rent a basic room seems quite odd to her.
"Everyone will look at you, and the weather will be very, very cold," she explained with sincerity noting the start of the rainy season in Ghana.
Any cooler weather is welcome, and I assured her that we could probably handle temperatures in the 70s, and a little moisture as well.
She thinks we're nuts, and perhaps she is right.
Well, the car performed remarkably well despite a return of the glowing read "check engine" light. I checked. It is still there.
Our previous trip to the Volta Region was in December of last year. Life in dry dusty Accra over the past few month was getting a bit dreary. (I'm sure my understanding of "dry/dusty" is about as skewed as Patience's understanding of "cold"). The greenery of the VR is the first thing we notice as we make our way into the hills.
Here is a horizontal SJD. She:
A) has just collapsed after returning from an exhausting ride?
B) is waiting for roadside assistance?
C) has not yet started the ride, broken a sweat, or even laced up her shoes, but decided a nap under the mango tree would be a good idea?
Did anyone guess "C"?
Ride 1: Once we got SJD moving, we set off from BMP to Amedzofe to Klipka to BMP. Unknown distance or route. All we knew for certain is that there would be a lot of climbing at the start. From Amedzofe, we would continue north on a ridge line a few miles before dropping steeply to Klipka.
Up and over, round and about we went fixing flats and twisted ankles along the way.
Dave had ridden portions of the extended loop previously, but nearly 8 months earlier. The trails connect no-name villages that appear as pencil head dots on our maps. Some men harvesting palm nuts recalled the last time Dave passed through. They advised a slight detour to Klipka. The trail leading down to Klipka was almost straight down the fall line. A few sections were simply wonderful to ride. Others brought back memories of miserable hike-a-bike days deep in VA/WV.
Dave and Sarah on the trail
The trail eventually deposited us up the valley about 8km from BMP. Paved road gave way to the final 4km gravel road climb to BMP. At the end of the day, the climb was a real chore. SJD was sure someone had moved the lodge up the slope even farther...
We returned to BMP just as the sun was setting and just in time to have a few cold beers while a tasty dinner of jollof rice, tilapia, rice balls and peanut sauce was prepared.
Day 2: After breakfast on the BMP porch we more or less reversed the route back up to Amedzofe on a tougher and steeper doubletrack. The 360 degree view from up top was worth the one hour climb. We grabbed chairs at the Lucky Boy Spot for a quick cold drink and to consider the rest of the day. Dave's mind was made up. He headed straight back to BMP. Sarah, SJD and I noticed the darkening sky to the east over Togo but we decided to drop down the opposite side of the ridge for 30 minutes, turn around and head home. Five minutes into the descent, the clouds began to sprinkle. It was enough of a warning to turn around and head for cover. We made our way back to BMP as the skies darkened and the winds strengthened. We got back just in time to grab rain gear and a book and find a spot on the porch to wait out the storm.
A much welcomed rain dumped on Volta Region for the next four hours almost without interruption. A small forest fire on the opposite slope was extinguished. Village drumming was muffled. The skies cleared in time for dinner. Our hardy tent (thanks REI) had stayed nice and dry through the deluge so we had a comfy night, albeit disturbed by some mighty strong gusts of wind that threatened to lift us up and over the ridge.