Scott, one of our sailing instructors, had the chance to hike up the local volcano, La Soufriere, recently with two of his students. He took some great pictures and did a nice write-up on their adventure. I thought we would take the opportunity to share it with all of our B(oss)LOG readers – enjoy!
Studies have shown that 91% of the human population wants to hike up a mountain, look into a big hole, and throw something into it. Sometimes that might be a rock, a golf ball, or some ashes. Sometimes it’s a virgin or two. After much discussion as to what might be the most appropriate way of pleasing the mountain gods, I decided to go have a look.
La Soufriere is the volcanic mound which makes up the northern half of St. Vincent. After a hundred or so years of activity, it last erupted in 1979. Luckily I didn’t feel any tremblers or witness any explosions of red hot magma when I decided to hike up with two students from my last sailing class. We decided towards the end of their stay on Andato that the journey would be a suitable Sunday Service. We arranged for Kashorn (I don’t really know how to spell his name)to drive us up to the trail and for Dennis to be our guide on the expedition. An interesting thing about the island is that there are marijuana farms all over the island and the farmers use the mountain trails to move the herb. They aren’t necessarily dangerous but are skeptical of small groups of white guys walking up the trail.
The trip up began a little after eight in the morning from a nice trail head parking lot and we were instantly surrounded by thick jungle. The trail quickly started rising uphill as we followed several ridges. After about an half hour we came up to a rocky clearing in the forest with a stream and a few small waterfalls running into a gorge. It was a sweet spot and a great place to go swimming or cool down part way through the walk. After the water stop we started climbing again using the many giant sized steps cut into the trail. There is so much water coming out of the clouds that the trail would easily turn into a river if it wasn’t for all the bamboo steps and rocks holding everything in place. The walk up was tough, mostly because of the steep incline and the heat. It’s almost always about eighty five degrees with a heat index around ninety five. Needless to say its a hot and wet hike up the “road”. After about another hour hiking we reached another good rest area with a little bamboo cover. This spot is usually at the base of the clouds when they roll through. It also marks the end of the jungle and the beginning of the low shrub which continues almost all the way to the top. After a quick snack and some water, the four of us pushed on for the summit. The remainder of the trail was loose rock and volcanic gravel and made each step slide back a little bit. Soon enough we were standing up on the ridge of the volcano (vulcano if you’re german or a trekkie) and were looking down into the crater at the center of the giant mountain. I was now 4,049 feet taller than I used to be and it felt great. The air was a nice seventy degrees and felt just like standing on a peak in Glacier during the middle of the summer. Our packs contained several rounds of Hairoun beer and a few snacks. Nothing beats reaching the summit and grabbing a heafty bottled beer to celebrate.
Our summit activities involved talking with a few “farmers” and playing a quick round of putt putt golf along with the required photo shoots and stone throwing. We decided to opt out of throwing a virgin into the mouth of the volcano and threw in a few rocks instead. Hopefully that will keep the mountain confused or satisfied until I leave.
We spent about an hour up on top, enjoying the high life, and re-fueling for the haul back down. The decent was fast and easy until we ran into a pack of German tourists crawling up the steep middle portion of the trail. After standing aside for awhile all thirty of them, some barely responsive, made their way past and the quiet hike down resumed. We came up to a stray hiker who could go no further and our guide helped her down the rest of the trail as we went ahead, sometimes almost running down the trail back to the water falls to cool down. We all reached the trailhead again a little before one in the afternoon. Not the fastest trip ever, but we spent a lot of time on the top and at the waterfalls. Our driver told us a story later about an eighty seven year old couple that did it in a hour and half round trip. Not sure if I believe that, but it’s certainly possible… We crawled back into the minibus and went into Georgetown for a quick drink. It was a nice cold beer this time, not the warm beer we had at the summit.
The next stop was the Black Point Tunnel which they used slaves to create and slaves to move sugar cane through. It was made to transport the cane through three hundred feet of rock to get to the bay on the other side. Pretty neat spot with a great park beside it and surprisingly there was hardly anyone there on a Sunday. The rum shacks were full though of course.
Sunday Services concluded at the Surfside Bar in Calliaqua with two very nice pizzas and some more Hairoun. A successful trip all around and it was great to see the more natural side of St. Vincent and get away from the busy, dirty, southern coast.