Monday, April 6, 2015

Fauna & Flora

Not sure why, but back in high school I absolutely detested biology. It wasn't dissecting the frogs or the smell of formaldehyde that bothered me, nor the memorization of classes and families, I just never found the subject very appealing. Now, I'm wishing I had paid so much more attention!

From Lameshur Bay we set off early in the morning on one of our longest hikes yet: Lameshur Bay trail over the saddle west to the Reef Bay trail, climbed north to the top of STJ to the Centerline Road, west along the road on the ridge to the L'Esperance Road (trail) and then all the way south and east back to Reef Bay, where we picked up the Lameshur Bay trail once more for a total of 10 miles and elevations of 1100'. In the process we passed through a variety of microclimates from lush, green growth in the protected guts to arid (parched) southerly exposures. We sure were glad to have studies the topo map carefully so we had a quick ascent in the relative cool of the morning with the longer, more drawn out descent as the sun reached it's hottest.

Surveying the Reef Bay gut and the hill we're going to walk around.
Having been on some of these trails before I decided to try to focus on the small creatures and plants that can easily escape the eye. I really need a field guide for some of these.
Gungaloo, a type of millipede - we usually see them curled up in a protective circle but this one was trying to get across the trail.
Geckos skitter through the bush all around us - hadn't seen one with such iridescent markings before.
Teyer Palm - the only native palm on St. John.
The massive Silk Cotton tree at this corner is hard to miss. It has huge buttress roots as well.
Pinguin or False Pineapple: this was the only one we saw in flower and apparently the fruit is edible.
Among these ruins were Turpentine Trees, also known as Tourist Trees for their red, peeling skin.
Although the vines and thorny stuff has been cleared from this old great house, the trees and other greenery still remain. I suspect that nature reclaims these sites very quickly without park service maintenance.
Back behind the Sieben Estate ruins we found the only Baobob tree on the island, the seed most likely having been brought from Africa on a slave ship.
Now for more arid slopes covered with Pinguin. Definitely a big ouch if you stumble here.
And now into a cactus field. The little suckers in the ground are vicious to get out if one sticks to you (speaking from experience here - oops)
Ok, quiz time - what is this? One I don't know and isn't in my guide book.
Another sharpie - Snake Tongue, or more curiously named Mother-In-Law Tongue.
Our reward, a dip is awaiting us in the cool refreshing waters of Lameshur Bay.
On Thursday we were quite surprised to be hailed on the radio by friends from back home at the Nepean Sailing Club. Doug and Cherry were in the BVI and would like to catch up with us, and never shy to enjoy a get-together we were thrilled when they made their way around to Lameshur. I can't believe I didn't get any pictures, not even of Pinot their adorable teacup Yorkie, but we were much too busy catching up on all the goings on and adventures of Mowzer and Moma Cal.

Sadly, they were headed back to Puerto Rico and our destination lies in the other direction so we parted ways and we once again rounded the island to the north shore, this time to meet up with Dave and Alex on Banyan. Birthday celebrations are on order for the weekend and it appears that there will be quite a gathering. Lots of new folks to meet, many of which have been, and will be back, in Grenada this season.

Now, on a mooring ball in Maho Bay, we took an early morning walk to stretch out our legs (mine were definitely a little sore from our previous hike). My favourite part of this walk was walking with a ray for the whole length of the beach. He was only about four feet away from me in about two feet of water and you can see the length of the beach in this first pic. Pretty cool way to start the day!

Early morning beach walk before it became crowded with Easter weekend visitors. Time for some fishing.
Moving on to new hunting grounds.
My beach walk companion. Very cool!
Finally, just to pay tribute to this amazing book that we bought many years ago at the St. Thomas airport on a whim. It has become our constant companion on St. John.

A great guide not just to the trails, but what you see along the way.

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