Wednesday, March 26, 2014

And Upwards We Go

Someone (ok, me) had the bright idea that we would climb up Bordeaux Mountain this morning because doing it in the morning when we were fresh would definitely be easier than hiking up the Centreline Road in the mid-day heat to get to the top. Well in theory that makes sense, but in practice I'm leaning toward them both being bad ideas...

The Petroglyph hike beckoned once again but only if we went up Bordeaux first! This hill (mountain?) is 1270' high and the trail to the top is about a mile long, giving an average ascent rate of about 20%. It took us an hour and I can tell you we were pretty happy with ourselves when we reached the Bordeaux Mtn Road at the top. Unfortunately the reward of smoothies we had promised ourselves at Chateau Bordeaux on the Centerline Road was not available for another hour so poor planning on our part.

We worked our way back down the Reef Bay trail to the Petroglyphs - drier than ever, and then carried on down to the remains of the Reef Bay Sugar Factory. We learned that the original name of this area was probably Rif, Riif or Riff after Rif Paret, an overseer on a local plantation back in the 1700s. Another bay in the area has also bastardized his name and is now known as Parrot Bay. As the sun climbed higher we made our way back home over the ridge towards Lameshur Bay. The 6-mile hike had pretty much done me in and as I browsed through our hiking book and read about the life of slaves on the sugar plantations I am amazed by the toughness of life back then. They awoke at 4am, working through the day in the searing heat, most likely naked with no protection of shade trees in the sugar-cane fields, hard labour all the way through until 10pm at night. Even after emancipation in 1848 freed slaves were required by law to stay on the plantations so it wasn't much of freedom and I don't imagine the overseers went any easier on them. All of the sugar mill/factory ruins that we find today have an air of sadness over them and one can only imagine the hardness of the life.

Along the way we spied lots of wildlife and greenery. We even caught site of a shy little mongoose but he was much too quick for a photo. Two weeks ago when we hiked with Dave & Alex on Johnny Horn, they commented that they had not seen a mongoose, which reminds me of a little riddle: What is the plural of Mongoose? (you have to get to the end for the Caribbean answer)

All fresh and ready to start our hike up the mountain
Our huge thanks to those who established the trails and those who maintain them today
Half-way up the views are stunning
There is art and humour everywhere to be found on St. John
Some of the folks we met along the way
The way down, if you please
The 2nd half of our hike. The first half is just off the map to the left.
False Pineapple - apparently produces an edible citrus-like fruit
The deer on the lower part of the trail were incredibly numerous
We made it to the Petroglyphs. In the wet season the waterfall would have us soaked at this point.
The easy, shady walk down to Reef Bay
Reef Bay Sugar Factory
Part of the old steam engine gearing.
Mangrove Cuckoo
The final crest with a view of Lameshur Bays (Great & Little).

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