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Hiking the Caribbean

Travel & news discussion about Martinique

Hiking the Caribbean

Postby KarenS » Fri Mar 03, 2006 9:03 am

From the Poughkeepsie Journal:

"Caribbean peaks are no vacation at the beach


Hike name: Peak bagging in the Caribbean.

Location: The West Indies ... the Leewards and the Windwards.

Length: Varies.

Rating: Easy to straight up.

Maps: Local tourist boards generally have fairly decent island maps that will at least get you to the trail head. Leonard M. Adkin's 1988 "A Walking Guide To The Caribbean" has basic maps.

Features: Lush, tropical rain forests. Incredible views of the island you are on and of neighboring islands. No jet skis, shoppers or inch-along traffic jams. No deer ticks or poison ivy!

Watch out for: Tropical sun, heat and humidity — bring sun block and plenty of fluids.

Background: Mountain climbing in the Caribbean? You gotta be nuts! What about the sand, sun, snorkeling, scuba, sunsets, shopping, the picture-perfect beaches, the warm, calm, indescribably blue water, the fine restaurants and the go-down-so-easy tropical drinks? Been there, done them (not the shopping part!). But if you are a true Hiker of the Week, you'll know that the islands are really the tops of mountains sticking up out of the Caribbean. A lot of them actually look like Catskill peaks. And, some of them sport serious Adirondack-like elevations: Guadeloupe's 4813-foot Soufriere, Dominica's 4748-foot Morne Diablotin, Martinique's 4584-foot Mont Pele, Saint Vincent's 4049-foot Soufriere and Saint Kitt's 3792-foot Mount Misery are nothing to sneeze at. The Dominican Republic is topped by 10,417-foot Pico Duarte! Tired of laying around on a beach doin' nuthin? Head For The Hills!

Hike description: Montserrat was my first Caribbean island. We stayed at the three-room Belham Valley Inn, owned by husband/wife Brit ex-patriots, both Cordon Bleu chefs. Our room was a wall-width away from some of the finest wining and dining I've ever experienced. We explored the island and its tiny village-like capitol city Plymouth, and sunned and swam at near-empty black sand beaches. The 3000-foot Chances Peak dominated the island. We asked around — there was a trail. We climbed to the top. On the way, we passed bright yellow open volcanic vents — they smelled like sulfur and roared like 747 engines. It was quite an adventure. Back home, I made a list of 30 island high points: once a peak-bagger, always a peak bagger. Some are cakewalks. All of the 3000-4000 footers are serious business, and don't underestimate some of the 1000/2000 footers. Before you climb, consider this: Most of the high points are extinct volcanoes. Chances Peak blew its top a couple of years after we stood on it. Two-thirds of the island is still uninhabitable.

How to get there: Fly to San Juan, Puerto Rico, or Sint Maarten/Saint Martin on a big crowded jet, ideally using your air miles. Take a small single or twin-engine prop-job 'puddle jumper' to the smaller islands."

Anyone hiked the Caribbean??
Karen for
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