Monday, December 29, 2014

Saba Bound

Firstly, this post is dedicated to my amazing mother whose birthday was celebrated yesterday. Here's to you Mom!

Thanks Peter for the great shot of Mom.

Our time with Jim has included a good bit of exploring and some nice relaxation. Christmas Day we actually scored a stuffed turkey breast and had a great meal on the boat and among all the festivities we made sure to get in some good beach time as well. Saturday included a trek across the lagoon and lunch at Lagoonies and on Sunday night we found ourself sharing cocktails aboard Champlain, a beautiful Oyster 55 belonging to Sam & George whom we met up in Grand Case along with Joanne & Jean from Elli Blue.

The beach at Friar's Bay.
The swell churned up the water to a turquoise milk-shake look.
This morning we were up early and over to the airport via taxi to catch the 8:20am flight to Saba. The flight is only 12 minutes long but the anticipation of the landing on the 396 meter runway made it feel much longer. Saba is a tiny Dutch island situated to the southwest of St. Martin and is a completely different world. There are no beaches, cliffs rise straight up out of the ocean and rise to the tip of Mount Scenery at 880 meters (about 3000'), and the entire picturesque island feels as though it were plucked out of Gulliver's Travels. This is our third visit to the island but we were quite excited to introduce Jim. And introduce him we did!

Awaiting our WinAir flight to Saba.
After a quick taxi ride from the airport to the charming little town of Windwardside where we found our rental cottage, we dumped our bags and headed for the trailhead for the hike up the mountain. We have never been lucky enough to find the mountain without her mantle of cloud and it looked like this morning would follow the tradition for Jim, but undaunted we carried on.

Henry doesn't look so sure about the plan.
Jim reads up on all the details.

Our first stop was Maskerhorn Hill above Windwardside where we watched the clouds passing between us and the peak. We ascended the trail that includes 1064 steps without which the slippery, steep trail would be impassable and made it up to the top where magically, as we patiently waited, the clouds thinned and finally dispersed, revealing the reward of the most amazing views below.

The view of Windwardside from Maskerhorn Hill.

Clambouring around the top of the mountain involved slithering over some pretty intense mud and boulders so we quickly laid on a bet regarding the one that made the first unplanned descent to knees or bottom. Some areas even required the use of ropes to belay up or down the boulders but regardless I was the one to unceremoniously slide my feet across a big boulder to come to rest straddling it like a horse. I can tell you that Saban mud sticks very well to the inside of a thigh but Jim and Henry didn't manage to get through unscathed either.

Yay, we made it!! But did you notice we're in a cloud?
Ooey, gooey mud on the trail.
Only if the cloud clears!
We nicknamed this portion of the trail, The Garden of Eden.
Wispy clouds dispersing over the perfect little village below.
Suddenly it was clear; Saba airport on the only piece of flat ground on the island.
Mount Scenery is the highest point in the Kingdom of The Netherlands.
Saban mud does only clean up easily.
Hell's Gate, just above the tiny little runway.
Rappelling over slippery boulders near the peak.
A view through the cloud forest.

The descent back down to the village was no easy feat since 1064 steps up to the top means 1064 steps pounding on the knees back down to the start. Our little cottage at The Cottage-Club Hotel provided the perfect respite with views back up the mountain and pretty good wifi.

Yep, we climbed that! The view from our cottage balcony.
The ocean glimpsed from the cottage.
Everywhere we look there is some kind of tropical bloom.
Tomorrow is going to come awful soon for my tired knees, with plans to hike to to The Bottom, the village on the west side of the island and home to a medical school, and then on to The Ladder, whose name should tell you what we're in for!