Trail Pace Journal – Friday 18th December, 2015

I was awakened around 3 o’clock in the morning by a heavy
downpour. Usually, when it rains during the night, it makes for a
peaceful sleep. However, as my friends Nick and Rose and I were planning to go
to Argyle Falls in the morning, I was a bit worried about the river being
flooded. We
left early from our temporary home in Lowlands and as we drove along the Windward
Road, every river I saw was brown and murky which dampened my spirits. The rain
fell well into the morning it seemed and it was still overcast so the threat of
more rain was ever present.

We didn’t know exactly where the trailhead was located but as we approached Roxborough, there was a roadside sign
that conveniently read “Argyle Waterfall 100m away.” We slowed
down and eventually came to Cameron Canal Road with a large sign indicating the
turnoff to the falls. The Argyle River ran alongside the Cameron
Canal Road and to my relief, the water actually seemed only a bit discoloured. At the trailhead there was another sign which provided details of the admission cost: $50 for adult residents and $60 for adult
tourists with or without a guide. Considering that we regularly hike with groups that charge
$50 per person, I thought that paying the same price for a personal tour was a good deal. We paid and
were introduced to our guide, Mike, who said he had been working here for 14
years.

The trail began through an abandoned cocoa plantation
and Mike informed us about how the cocoa was grown and how chocolate was made
from the seeds of the pods. As we continued walking, the left side of the
estate was blocked off by a chain link fence. Beyond this fence there were many
fruit trees which Mike pointed out including pommecythere, orange, plum, guava,
and sapodilla. Also, Mike gave us some information of on a Bois Canot tree
which was growing alongside the trail. This tree is native to Trinidad and
Tobago and he explained that if you boil the leaves, the tea is a natural
remedy for arthritis.

The walk was very relaxing and it was only a gentle
incline thus far. It was still overcast so it was cool and there were still
raindrops on the vegetation which made everything look new and refreshed. The
trail was surprisingly not muddy except for the occasional puddle which was
easily avoidable. Further along, Mike stopped at the side of a bamboo patch and
offered to take a group photograph with the bamboo as a lovely background.
Continuing on our stroll, Mike suddenly stopped and pointed out a blue crowned
motmot perched on a low hanging branch. He actually called out to the bird by
whistling but it flew off. He then said we’ll see it later on the hike. Passing
a large silk cotton tree, we were faced with a flight of stairs going uphill.
Before we approached it though, we noticed a cocrico perched in a tree. The cocrico is
the national bird of Tobago but Mike explained that it is more of a pest as it
causes great damage to crops. It made a loud squawking sound before it took
flight.

After the stairs which were a bit mossy and slippery,
the trail levelled back out and we walked comfortably onwards. Mike continued
pointing out plants to us and showed us where visitors would engrave their
names on bamboo shoots. We then came upon
another set of stairs which led down to the river. At the bottom, on the river
bank, we made our way carefully along the rocks to the waterfall which we began
to hear distinctly. Walking along, we saw the motmot again as Mike promised
which was quite remarkable but it flew off as we approached.

Rounding a bend in the river, Argyle Falls came into
view and it was a magnificent sight. We saw the river tumbling over

three distinct faces and each tier was spectacular in its own right. Mike indicated
that there were actually 17 levels in all but the first three were the most popular. The first and second waterfalls were horsetail type falls while the third fanned out across the rock face. The pool at the first falls was actually a bit murky but that didn’t
lessen the splendor of the waterfall. I’ve been to many waterfalls in Trinidad
but nothing compared to this sight.

We decided to head up to the third level one time and
made our way up the steep, rocky pathway on the right side of the river. There
were guiding ropes along the path so it wasn’t too difficult to get up. As we
came off the path to the third level, the cold spray gently blew on us and it
caused my pores to raise. Looking up at these falls, it was even more beautiful
up close. We took some pictures before we went into the
pool for a dip. Also, I went under the falls which was the coldest shower I had
taken for ages; it was so refreshing though. Mike then left us to go back to the
first level while Nick and Rose headed to the top of this one. I stayed there
and just marveled in the scenery.

When Nick and Rose came back, we headed down to the
second but only stopped to take a couple pictures. Back at the first level, we
met another small group who had just arrived. We relaxed there for a bit before
heading off again. We actually had a hectic day planned so we couldn’t have
spent any longer there. Given the opportunity I would have probably spent whole
day there and tried to explore as many levels as possible. Mike said groups would
actually spend a couple days trying to get to the 17th level as it usually
involved some trail clearing and climbing.

The hike back was much shorter as we didn’t have any
stops. The journey to the falls took about half an hour but we probably made it
back in about 15 minutes. Back at the centre, we gave Mike a tip and had a
quick bite to eat. It was only around 11 o’ clock when we left but it seemed
like if we had a full day of adventure already.

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