We are honored to feature our first guest post from Go Here, There & Everywhere: www.goherethereandeverywhere.com
It’s always good to read great travel stories, that provide valuable tips, inspiration and advice from travelers based on their first-hand experience.
This blog is runned by Ed and Carla Little. They are sharing their tips, recommondations and things that they experiences from their travels like this one.
Puerto Rico is an island full of natural wonders…from sandy white beaches to lush, tropical mountains and valleys. It also has a rich culture and history to be experienced. When our family visited, we took in the many sights, sounds, tastes and experiences the island has to offer. One of the most unforgettable of those was our hike through the El Yunque rainforest.
Having hiked so many amazing places around the globe love the outdoors, we enjoy the challenge of a hike with some degree of difficulty. The hike we chose had just the right amount of challenge during a relaxing vacation to a tropical paradise.
Tropical rain forest El Yunque
The only tropical rain forest within U.S. territory, El Yunque is the only tropical rain forest recognized by the United States National Forest System. The forest has an average rainfall of 200 inches each year. With that much rain, El Yunque doesn’t have a specific wet or dry season, and with temperatures staying between 70-80 degrees Farenheit, the wildlife flourishes throughout the year.
There are 25 waterfalls throughout the forest, but only 5 of them are accessible from the hiking trails. With so many trails to chose from, it was difficult to narrow down to one choice. We finally settled on the Big Tree Trail, which descends .07 miles through the forest over both paved areas and natural trails, lined with thick vegetation, ferns, palms, and every shade of green imaginable.
La Mina River
The sun streaming through the forest canopy brought beautiful rays of light that played among the greenery.The trails was a bit busy, with hikers traveling both ways, and we had to navigate the narrow pathway. We soon were hiking along the La Mina River, which would bring us to our well-deserved reward at the end…but we’ll get to that soon enough.
The river has a milky-brown color which is a stark contrast to all the greenery around it. We were there in the heat of the summer, but the elevation of almost 2,000 feet made it much cooler and pleasant in the otherwise tropical humidity.
After many twists and turns, we did reach what we assumed was ‘the big tree’, which was impressive, and stopped for a few pictures. Our son couldn’t resist heading out onto the rocks in the river, and we got some great shots of his off-trail wandering.
Cascada La Mina waterfall
The reward at the end of the trail is the spectacular Cascada La Mina waterfall. The water plummets over the rocks above from with a constant thundering. The views from the bridge crossing the river are magnificent, giving us nature photographers a great vantage point for a postcard picture.
While I was busy with my camera, what I didn’t notice were my children climbing down from the bridge, onto the rocks below the falls. At first I was a bit nervous, the falls are large, and I didn’t feel much like fishing any of them out of the water, or having them get injured falling off the slippery rocks.
Of course, the story doesn’t stop there. At the know-it-all age of 15, my son starts shedding his shirt and shoes, and is wading, then swimming in the pool below. I’m thinking I better get down there…
Well, even that wasn’t enough for him. his sisters following, they were heading toward the falls. As a parent, I had no idea of the force of the water, and if it would be dangerous. As my wife and I are yelling at them to stay away, either they couldn’t hear us, or more likely were ignoring us. So, of course, they wind up under the falls, with the water from above pounding on them.
Swimming in the waterfall
Just watching wasn’t going to work for me! If the kids were going to swim in the waterfall, so was I! I just a minute, my wife had the camera, and I was swimming with my kids, in one of the most beautiful natural settings we’d ever seen. It was a moment we’ll never forget.
Sometimes, it just takes a little push, to have that special experience that traveling gives you. Wandering off the expected path, sharing a moment with those you love, and making memories that last forever.