Sunday, January 1, 2012

Horton's Plains

Lands End...note the farm in the valley
Land's End - lakes in the background

We had set the alarm for a bit after 5:00 this morning so that we could get an early start, however, it was really pointless and redundant (and we could hardly hear it on top of that). Unbeknownst to us, we were sleeping on top of a mosque. At 5:04 the call to prayer began and it sounded like it was being broadcast from our room. At home I don’t always hear it – frequently sleeping through it. However…our mosques are far enough away... this one really got your attention. might be wondering why we were getting up at that ungodly hour...being vacation and all. We were heading out to Horton's Plains to see the mist forest. Next, I'm sure you're scratching your heads and saying "yeah, right, mist forest" so I'll save you the trouble. It's like a rain forest with the warmth and the high rainfall but there are some differences. It's usually not quite as warm as the rain forest and it's almost always covered in a mist by 10:00 in the morning. As the ground warms up, the clouds begin to condense and steadily you can watch the clouds form and eventually, fill the valley...and the forest. By heading out at 5 am, we were able to actually walk around, see the spectacular sights, and take some pictures before the mist swept in.

Now, due to the rather large egos of European (and American) type people back in the 1800's, (hmmm…still true) Horton's Plains was discovered by an Englishman, hence the name (I mean really? No one else had been out to that part of the island?). Be that as it may, I will give credit to the English for preserving the area...though not until after a few enterprising "sportsmen" shot every elephant. One man has the dubious distinction of having shot 1,400 elephants before he was struck by lightning. Too bad the gods didn't get upset with him earlier. (interesting note...his isolated grave has been struck twice y lightning...guess they haven't forgotten.) There are other animals left in the area, the Samba deer, a warthog of some sort, otters, leopards, (though difficult to find) and lots of different birds.
Sambhur Deer
We had a particularly large male deer head over towards our car. Jeff is merrily snapping pictures as the deer moves closer and closer, intently looking at us. I’m not too thrilled about Jeff standing out there eyeball to eyeball with this animal and I finally convince him to get back in the car. Now, while I thought he looked threatening, we later discovered he was probably just looking for a handout. You’re not supposed to feed the animals but obviously the signs (in multiple languages) were ignored repeatedly because we found another buck merrily snacking on handouts from a van. Probably the big guy making its way towards us was looking for food too.

The hiking route takes you by two spots billed as "Land's End" and they do indeed look like they are at the edge of the land. The cliff is unbelievably steep, a shear drop to the farmland way below. The vista, however, is well worth the walk - you can literally see for miles. They say that on a clear day you can see to the ocean...alas we did not get that view. 
Baker's Falls
Our giant steps to the falls.
There are some gorgeous falls here also. The largest is Baker's Falls.  The steps to get down to the falls had to have been made for and by giants  - they are without a doubt the steepest steps I've ever attempted to navigate. It's a good thing the steps were built among the trees – they were very helpful for pulling yourself up – or hanging onto as you jumped down to the next level. The picture does not show the real depth of these steps.

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