Grenada:  Dec. 8-13, 2009

Mount Saint Catherine (2757 Feet)

At 7 AM on Dec. 9, the crews from Tusen Takk II, Arctic Tern, Receta, and Bee's Knees all gathered at Clarke's Court Marina and piled into a rented van.  The plan:  to drive as close as possible to the tallest mountain on Grenada, and to then attempt to hike to the summit.   Mt. St. Catherine sports a microwave or wireless tower, but there is no road.  The tourist maps seemed to indicate that the best route would be to drive to the top of Mt. Hope in order to begin the trek, but queries of locals and a bit of internet research soon changed our plans;  we would drive through the villages of Paraclete and then Blaize, and then take, to the extent that we could, the concrete road up to the un-named peak (hereafter called "UNP") that bore the description "Cable and Wireless Sta." on the more-detailed map available for purchase in St. George.   From there, we would walk.   As we approached the area, the locals were very helpful, pointing out the right road at intersections and asking if we had a four-wheel drive.   We didn't, so when the concrete road became single lane and dauntingly steep, we pulled off and parked on a small level shoulder made for just that purpose.   As it happened, we were about a mile and a half from the top of UNP.  We found at the top not one but three towers, a nice log on which to rest, and, at first, no sign of a path toward Mt. St. Catherine.  A bit of searching revealed next to a small building a narrow path that promised to follow a ridge to our goal.   Hunter and I had machetes (called cutlasses by the locals), and they proved to be invaluable.   The path turned out to be very muddy, fairly overgrown, and, in the first "lower" section, chocked with razor grass.   We all got fairly muddy on the way up, and then got terribly muddy on the way back down, since we all at one time or another slipped and fell on our bums.   But the views were spectacular, and the weather remarkably kind.  No rain, and clear visibility, with occasional sunshine.

Hike statistics:  We left the van around 8:30 AM.   The distance from the van to the top of UNP was about 1.5 miles.  The distance along the ridge from UNP to St. Catherine was about 1 mile (as a hawk flies), and we started that trek at about 10 AM.  We reached the top of St. Catherine at about 1:00 PM.  On the way back down the concrete road (above the van), we passed a public faucet and stopped to clean up some.   All told, by the time we stopped at a rum shack to grab water for all and beers for a few, it was past 7:30 PM by the time we arrived back at Clarke's Court Marina.  Too tired to consider cooking, Barb insisted that before returning to the boat we partake of veggie burgers (which were surprisingly good) at the Marina's Wed. night Burger Night.

Photos by Devi Sharp are marked with (**)

Leaving the van and getting ready for the hike ...

... up the steep concrete road to the top where the "official" hike would begin

** Resting at UNP (and looking for the path to St. Catherine)

More folks resting at UNP before pushing into the bush

** Typical overgrown and clogged section

The path was along a ridge that ran from UNP to St. Catherine

** Jim on a typical muddy section

** Ann and Steve climb over an obstacle

** Ann negotiating a muddy (and steep) section

Snack (and rest) break along the way up

Interesting berries found along the way

Lots of ferns in the rainforest along the slope

Panorama along the way

Another ridge shot

And another

Tower at the top of St. Catherine

Quite a view

Our pants were muddy, and would get much worse on the way back down

Looking down from St. Catherine to UNP, showing the ridge ...

... along which our path ran

** Ann returning on an open stretch

Nearly back to UNP, Hunter pauses to observe a hawk

Breaking out of the path and back to UNP, here comes Barb ...

... and Ann and Hunter

... and Devi ...

... and Ann and Jim

** Jim rests back at UNP

We stopped at a public faucet higher up on the concrete road -- here we finish cleaning up back at the van

After-effects of hiking through razor grass