Friday, June 19, 2015

Deshaies and a River Hike

Now we begin our trek south in earnest towards Grenada for the hurricane season.  First stop is Guadeloupe and the pretty little port of Anse Deshaies (pronounced "day-hay").

Our sail from Antigua to Deshaies was, shall we say, boisterous.  I have some video that I will post later.  We made the trip in 8 hours and happily picked up a mooring ball in this notoriously windy anchorage.  Although we had a few windy bullets pass through, it was actually pretty settled for us, but since no-one came to pick up a mooring fee we happily enjoyed the free rent.

These French islands can be funny.  We headed ashore to complete our check-in formalities which we expected to do on a computer kiosk, conveniently located on the upper floor of a little cafe.  When we arrived, we found a note on the door saying that they had gone on vacation until July.  Nothing daunted we remembered that the old customs building was just up the hill on the way out of town, so off we marched.  When we arrived there we were greeted with a note on the door saying that the cafe was closed at that we were free to complete our paperwork sometime before leaving Guadeloupe at the office in the Saintes (where we are heading next) or another marina.  So laissez-faire... gotta love it!

Before heading back to the boat we took a little walk around the town and ended up with a bar with wifi.  Well, after a couple of very refreshing beer we still didn't have access so another day passed with no updates... and french beer is not cheap but the view of the remarkably calm anchorage was good.

They're covering all possibilities.

Pretty little church with bell tower at the top of the hill.

We took a peek inside this deceptively large church.

That's a breadfruit tree Henry is walking under.  Once they are fully grown, the breadfruit are about the size of a rugby ball and are very heavy.

The town hall featured this solid rock carving.

And finally, those cold beer...

Back in the anchorage we met a young Italian named Alessio who is crewing on a big power cat.  It turned out that we had met Bob (from Vancouver) and his granddaughter from Azzure II on St. Kitts when looking for a rental car, so we renewed our acquaintance which turned into a lovely dinner of fresh fish served up by Alessio and plans for a river hike the next day.

The river that empties into the bay at Deshaies is a wonderful boulder scramble hike and would be our first real hike of this nature.  Bob and Alessio joined us as we clambered over boulders big and small with the temptation of a hidden waterfall at the top.

As we started off, it all looked pretty tame.

As we got a bit further on, Alessio chose to make it a bit more interesting.  He made the swing to the next rock on about his fourth try.  Tarzan makes it look easy!

I got in on the action with some big boulder climbs.
After about two and a half hours of steadily climbing up the river boulders, we came to a little cavern, at first glance kind of spooky but once inside it was really incredible.  A wide boulder is wedged between the rock walls and with a bit of strength and good team work we all made it over to the waterfall behind.  The force of the water is pretty amazing but a shower was readily welcomed after the humid heat of the hike to get there.

Alessio and Bob heading towards the final waterfall.

This boulder wouldn't be so difficult to get around if you didn't have to start at it's base in chest-high water.

First one under the cascade.

Alessio, Henry and Bob enjoy the cool-down.

The opening in the cavern was right above our heads where the water drops from.

Move over Henry - time for my shower!

Just limin'

Now the hard part to get back with the drop from here back into the water.

Four very happy hikers (and one guy with a good imagination!)
One of the great things about this hike is that as you are concentrating on taking your next step on the boulders you just don't realize quite how high you are climbing.  It was hot and humid, but you are climbing through up a river valley and there were lots of little pools and mini waterfalls to cool off in as needed.  On our return down, we found it much more difficult to get down the boulders without twisting an ankle or banging up knees so we were quite happy to pick up the road for our return journey, and what had taken over two hours to accomplish on the way up was really only about a 30 minute walk down.  As an added benefit, we managed to fill our bags with fresh (from the tree) mangos.  Some were a little stringy but each and every one was hanging on the tree fresh and completely free.  Gotta love that!

The fallen fruit was already starting to ferment in the heat, but with a few carefully aimed hard mangos from the ground we gathered up armloads of fresh fruit we knocked off the branches.
The afternoon arrived and found us back at the boat with the decision that we would continue our move southwards so we put Pigeon Island up on the chart plotter and made our way just 10 miles south of Deshaies for the night.  This would put us at a good launch spot for The Saintes before some heavier weather moves in next week.

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