Puerto Rico - hiking

Tags: Puerto Rico

Date: April 1, 2017

We visited the rainforest in Puerto Rico, El Yunque, named after one of the mountains in the forest. We started out on a trail with a lot of people. There were cruise ships in San Juan that day and cruise ship passengers were being transported in buses to the El Yunque forest. We walked down a few steps and around a corner and found this::

We quickly left the waterfall and natural pool behind and 1 or 2 km later, the trail looked like this:

We were on a trail that goes to the top of the El Yunque peak. As we were ascending we walked into the clouds:

An opening in the trees near the top with a view of....clouds:

Obviously it is very humid in the rain forest and dead or dying wood quickly gets covered in moss:

FĂ©licie in the clouds:

At the top there is a small tower:

The view from the top was not very exciting due to the clouds and just outside the frame of the picture was large telephone masts: A couple of other hikers took our picture on top of the tower:

A small stream running over the stones:

In the background is a shelter. There were many of these shelters along the path, most of them with a bench where you can eat your lunch or just wait for a rain shower to stop. The roof of this shelter was covered in plants and flowers:

Right before the trail joined the road we found an area with a circular pool made by damming up one of the streams. Next to it were several dilapidated buildings. The place used to be a popular swimming pool and picnic place:

A couple of days later we went to another forest called Tres Picachos, again named for three mountain peaks in the forest. We had a hard time finding any trails leading into the forest but eventually we found this:

There was a trail next to the waterfall leading up to the top of it where we could walk along the stream. It was a nice trail but we ran into some Poison Ivy. After touching the plant you develop hives looking and feeling just like what you get after touching a stinging nettle and the hives disappear after half an hour. But then the next day red swollen boils appear and stay there for about a week. Nasty plants!! However, it looked very nice with the rock walls and different palms:

Another lovely waterfall:

A few days later we tackled El Toro. El Toro is one of the other mountain peaks in El Yunque rain forest. It is accessed from a different entrance to the forest and one of the locals we talked estimated that maybe only 1% of the Puerto Ricans know about that entrance and of those about 1% have ever been there. We were very happy about the lack of other people there but it also meant that the trail is not very well kept:

However, most of the time it was ok:

Towards the top of the mountain we ran into another kind of nasty plant, the appropriately named Razor Grass. The long, narrow leaves stick to your skin strongly enough to rip it. After the hike both of us were bleeding from numerous scratches on arms and legs. We looked like we had been fighting a dozen cats. Apparently the locals would never go on a hike like this in shorts and T-shirt. This picture must have been taken before we ran into the Razor Grass:

The view form the top of El Toro:

A well deserved lunch of homemade bread rolls with rillettes at the top of El Toro: