Backpacking Flores Island: Walking The Wildside Trail
After departing the trail office, we headed to the beginning of our hike in. There are a number of signs that you find along the trail, which go along with a booklet you can pick up, that explains as you go along the significance of some areas to the native people. We didn’t get the booklet, but after seeing this sign, the beginning of the trail became known as “Spiritual Octopus” (and so our departure hike became a lot of “Are we at the Spiritual Octopus yet?”)
Directly beyond Spiritual Octopus was the first beach. I’ve never backpacked across sand before, and while the scenery was gorgeous, slogging through sand is kind of exhausting. We stuck close to the water, where the sand was firmer, wherever we could.
The forested portions of the trail were incredible. It was truly like hiking though the rain-forest (which it is) and it was like stepping into a completely different world when you left the beach. The beach was often cool, thanks to the wind off the ocean, but the forest was warm and humid. It was strange, in a wonderful sort of way.
Much of the trail was boardwalks, which are actually brilliant for several reasons. First, it vastly decreases our impact on the environment. If you’ve ever hiked, you know that trails wear a deep rut in the ground, not to mention the chronic problem of trail widening, which often happens when people are trying to avoid a muddy patch and walk beside the trail, instead of on it. Eventually you have two parallel trails for portions, which destroys even more of the area. Considering how wet the rain-forest is, you not only got to avoid the mud by walking above it, but there is no way to widen the trail. The boardwalks also make the trail far, FAR easier, considering the nature of the forest terrain. The later portion of the trail doesn’t have boardwalks, and we spent much time and energy scrambling and struggling over thick tree roots, up and down, up and down. Ease of use opens this trail up to a wider variety of hiker, which is wonderful.
One thing we saw a LOT of on the trail, was Pacific Banana Slugs:
The Pacific banana slug is the second-largest species of terrestrial slug in the world, growing up to 25 centimetres (9.8 in) long, and weights of 115 grams (4.1 ounces).
They come in a lot of colors, but the yellow ones with the black spots are the prettiest I think. Every time we walked near one they pulled in their eyestalks, which I found rather amusing.
The first part of the trail was pretty quick. We crossed several beaches, and walked through patches of forest.
However, there is a portion of the trail that is only accessible at low tide, and as we happened to hit it at high tide, we had to take the “long way”. Let me tell you, the detour was some of the roughest trail I’ve ever hiked. It was a lot of up and down, the trail was wet so it was muddy and slippery. There were no boardwalks, and the tree roots snake over the path, and our packs were heavy, which totally throws your normal sense of balance off. It was slow slogging, and exhausting, and frustrating.
After a very long detour, we made it back to the main trail with a sigh of relief. The rest of the trail was a bit easier, but we were already tired, and so it just became a frog-march of putting one foot in front of the other. It was getting late, but on we went.
After what seemed like a long time (the whole affair took 5.5 hours, including a couple of pro-longed stops) we came out on the beach at Cow Bay. It was 9:30pm, and so we had just enough daylight to pitch our tent, set up our beds, and build a small fire. We had some supper and some hot chocolate and then called it a night. We were both pooped, but we were looking forward to the following day and the chance to check out the beach in the daylight!