Today starts off overcast as the haze from the rain last night has not burned off yet so the ground is quite wet with moisture. We decided that since we want to make the most of our time here, we would go out regardless of the weather, as long as we were prepared. The park ranger has recommended two trails that he says are his favourite so that is the plan for today.
We drove over to Louil Hill and once again, we missed the start of the trail because on the roads, there is no signage to indicate turn here and park. It is a one way path that is quite overgrown with brush that needs to be hacked back. With so much rain on the leaves, we are soaked; our legs and shoes again and it is not even raining. We were swarmed by clouds of biters and it was not an easy hike.
The Park Guide book says that it is a 3.5 kms loop with a 140 step climb to view Alexander Bay and the Tourism Guide says 4 km and with the conditions of the trail, it seemed like a lot more when you add in the degree of difficulty due to the climbing up loose rocks, stairs and rough path.
I have wet feet again, so I want to get back to the RV to change my shirt (I am too hot), shoes & socks (that are soaked and I hate wet feet). I insisted on washing my hands because I have sunscreen and bug juice on my hands and they feel sticky. Stuart had to find me a gas station where I washed up and bought a Skor blizzard. We had lunch in parked somewhere in Traytown and then went back to the RV to change.
In the afternoon we hiked Malady which is listed anywhere from 3 to 5 kms but it is longer than that. The condition of the trail was atrocious. Even before you get to the forest portion, the gravel road is littered with branches that have been trimmed but not removed so it is an obstacle course.
Little did we know that the trail in the forest would be even worse. There were numerous fallen trees (20+) obstructing the trail which was difficult to climb over, under, walk around and avoid tripping. The ground was very wet and muddy spots were unavoidable, spanning the width of the path and going on for a few yards, as the boardwalks did not extend far enough over the stream beds.
I nearly lost my shoe at one point due to the depth of the soft spot. I am glad that I have my walking sticks to steady myself with all the uneven ground, loose rocks, climbing up and down, winding around the whole damn place without any indication of where you are in relation to the start and end points of the trail. It was the worse trail I have hiked so far and I am miserable.
At the end of the trail this is the only view you get. It was definitely not worth it.
My feet hurt because both of the comfy shoes are wet and I am wearing my duckies that are a little large and the laces won’t stay tightened so my feet are slopping and rubbing (sore bunion and baby toe). The bugs here are so bad that even S is complaining about his bites.
We are very disappointed with this National park. I do not want to hike anymore of these trails if they are not maintained and the distances are wrong so you end up going farther than desired. Quite a few times, it says it will be a short loop and it ends up being much longer than anticipated and with the heat and mosquitoes, it is marginally tolerable at the moment. We are getting jaded with the calibre of past trails and these are falling way below the standard we are accustomed to. First of all, they need to be safe and not an obstacle course where you have to dodge fallen branches, wade through puddles, figure out where the branches at the fork go and which one to take, find the path to hike it, or miss the hidden gems that make the journey worthwhile.
We are exhausted from the heat, the numerous bites that itch badly, the hike and just really grouchy right now. We got back to the RV and had a nice long cleansing shower to wash off the sunscreen, bug spray and anti-itch plus the dirt and sweat from hiking. It felt so much better to be clean and cool again. We had steak, mashed potatoes, mushroom and onions. Life is good again.
Stuart has been having problems with his Bell stick and has discovered that the damn thing is over-heating and cutting out. He discovered that if we held it up to the air conditioner it would keep working. after some experimenting we just draped it over a running fan. It’s kind of awkward but it least we can use it.