Thursday, December 19, 2013

Suicide Hike

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(If you look really carefully, you can see Georgia in the upper right blue water)

We pulled into Great Lameshur Bay on the south side of Saint Johns islands. This side of the island is not visited a lot by cruisers or charter boats. You aren’t allowed to anchor in the bays, but there are a fair number of national park mooring balls.

We’d heard about a 2.2 mile hike that ends in some sugar plantation ruins and petroglyphs. Now I’m not really a big fan of hiking but I was OK to cruise along a flat trail to the ruins. No one mentioned that this hike actual goes up for 1.1 miles to the tallest ridge here and then down the other side for 1.1 miles. So hiking up hill in the tropical heat on a mud and broken sharp stone trail is really way down on my list of things to do. But I trudged along, one foot in front of the other.

LemshurIMG_3711 There weren’t many places you could see out of the trail. I guess jungle growth will do that. Here’s a peak down from near the top of the ridge.

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Entertaining jungle overgrowth air plants were all along the trail.

As we got toward what we thought was the end of trail – after making a few dubious decisions at various Y’s in the trail, we found ourselves walking along a narrow trail along the edge of a 50 foot cliff. The cliff had typical jungle plant life eking out an existence along its steep, rocky surface. Chris was in front and I was about 15 feet behind. Next thing I knew I was hanging head down, face up over the cliff face with my ankles just wrapped on the cliff edge above. My head had jammed into the Y formed by some branches of a very small and thorny tree. Fortunately, my head was big enough to almost safely lodge me in the branches. The tree limbs actually pulled in tight on my jaw joints.

It was kind of an awkward situation looking out into the open air with my head down. The main view was upside jungle plants. I tried to un-snare myself from the situation, but it seemed like moving my head and neck was not only difficult, it offered a quick head first trip to the bottom of the cliff. Fortunately Chris has not significantly increased my life insurance policy and she came back up the trail with a stretched arm and bullied me up the cliff edge.

lemshurIMG_3717 You can see the red welt starting just under my ear along the manly jaw line. The next day it was pretty sore.

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We never did see the petroglyhs. Here’s Chris investigating the plantation ruins.

The ruins are completely over grown with jungle. The area was original cleared by slaves. They cleared the forests, terraced the mountain sides and grew sugar cane. Tough, tough work. The average life of a slave once they arrived in the West Indies and  started working on the plantation is reported to be 4 years. That probably contributed to the 1733 slave rebellion that took place on the island against the Danish plantation holders. It was one of the largest and longest slave rebellions. The rebels took control of most of the island. They did have some strange, to our sensibilities, plans. They planned to take over the island and use other slaves to continue to farm it. It was eventually put down after French and Swiss troops from Martinique arrived in mid-1734. Some of the remaining rebels reportedly jumped from cliffs in the end.

 

LemshurIMG_3721  We saw a few critters on the hike. Here’s a shy, non-native, mongoose. We also saw a white tailed deer, brought over by settlers for food.

LemshurIMG_3732 The bay is home to a fair number of hawks bill turtles.

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An underwater view

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Remora cleaning time

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Big, unidentified fish cruising around our mooring ball.

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Chris’s search of another green flash…

Paul

1 comment:

  1. Wow!!! Who knew that having a "big head" could be life saving... I'm very glad that you aren't worth more dead than alive. If I were you, I'd keep reminding Chris that single-handed sailing would be too much of a pain.

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