Middleham and WNT seg 4 trail: Jan 2018


WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY PAUL CRASK

The Middleham trail from Laudat is open and has been cleared though there are still some hazardous sections across landslides and tree fall that need further attention. WNT segment 4 from the falls junction to Sylvania and Pont Casse is not clear yet, nor is the trail from Cochrane.

This is rainforest habitat and the state of the forest here is mixed. On the exposed slopes and ridges the hurricane had a field day and trees are barren and damaged. But in the river valleys and on leeward slopes there is much more vegetation. I was surprised and happy to see fairly lush rainforest undergrowth. Ferns of all kinds, heliconia, wild anthurium, zel mouche, an assortment of mosses, low-growing plants and creepers were all thriving thanks to a long period of rain and heavy cloud cover that has made up for the sparse canopy, giving some protection from the sun. Vines, as is the case all abouts, are expanding their empires aggressively, unhindered by competing plants.

I disturbed a total of six jaco parrots from their canopy roosts; all were large adults and seemed in good shape. Birdlife was otherwise scarce and I did not hear the mountain whistler, which continues to worry me.

There were lots of butterflies including the great southern white, the Caribbean buckeye, the flambeau, and a solitary swallowtail.

The waterfall looks much the same, protected as it is by steep cliffs, the faces of which, rather like most tree trunks, have been blasted clean of moss and lichen.


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