Mike Braun is leading our group on a canyoning expedition in the mountains south of Cabarete in the Dominican Republic. For almost three hours, we’ve been humping it over boulders, climbing over fallen trees, rappeling down waterfalls, and leaping 50 feet into prehistoric pools carved by the river. This particular route is called the “Big Bastard,” and that little pool below us is a good 100 feet down.
“When I first came here and saw this hole, I said, 'Wow, that’s a big bastard,’” informs Mike.
So we jump down into the Bastard hurtling at breakneck speed past jagged rocks and splash hard into the chilly water. Then at the Magic Mushroom waterfall, I slip during the rappel and slide sideways along the rock face before disappearing under the waterfall torrent.
When the ravine finally flattens out, we have to cross the shallow river without stepping on the slippery moss-covered rocks.
“Stay off the green rocks,” Mike shouts out. Helpful.
Whoosh, I slip off one of the rocks and fall on my knees. My thighs are screaming and my backpack has fallen over the front of my head.
“There's no grace and dignity in canyoning,” laughs Mike. This coming from a man with the ankles of a rhino.
When we stumbled out of the canyon after three hours, I'd pushed myself to the limit. It’s a real catharsis to feel so fully spent, even if you can’t feel your legs.
Since then, Mike moved to Zanzibar. Iguana Mama Eco-Tours in Cabarete now leads groups into the Bastard.