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SAILORS’ HIKES BY CHRIS DOYLE CHRIS DOYLE (2)

ST. LUCIA’S MARIGOT RIDGE HIKES

JULY 2010

Main photo: You get an eagle’s-eye view of the inner bay from the ridge Inset: ‘I have never seen more large-leaf sea grape trees than on this hike’

Johnson Hardware Ltd. FOR YOUR MARINE HARDWARE, AND MORE Chain & Rope Anchors & Fenders Electric Wire Marine Hoses Bilge Pumps Lubricants & Oils

Stainless Fasteners Stainless Fittings VHF Radios Flares & Life Jackets Snorkeling Equipment Fishing Gear

Antifouling Paint Paint Brushes Epoxy Resins Sanding Paper & Discs Hand & Power Tools Houseware & Cookware

Rodney Bay, St. Lucia z Tel: (758) 452 0299 z Fax: (758) 452 0311 z e-mail: hardware@candw.lc

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handholds, and towards the top, in the three places where the going gets tough, long ropes have been tied in place to provide you with a good handhold. Shoes with a good grip are almost essential. I have never seen more large-leaf sea grape trees, Coccoloba pubescens, than on this hike. These trees, relatives of the common sea grape found on many beaches, have giant leaves, big enough to come in handy as a sunshade or umbrella. In the dry season, their dead leaves litter the floor of the trail. Watch out also for hermit crabs. This is typical habitat for them and footsteps can make them retreat into their shell — upon which they often lose traction and start rolling downhill, which has led some hikers to believe that the trail is littered with aggressive little rocks determined to attack them. When you reach the summit, turn left and follow the ridge for a short while; you will find a meditation platform with a great view. The other trail, the sunset ridge trail, starts in the Doolittle complex. It is less steep and doesn’t go as high as the main ridge trail, but it also has a lovely ridge viewpoint. Since you have to go quite a long way through private property with “no trespassing” signs, I suggest you go into Doolittle’s to get permission and ask for directions to the beginning of the trail. Once you pass through the gate in the big fence where the trail starts, it is very clear. If you go to watch the sunset, take a flashlight and make sure you get back before they lock the gate!

CARIBBEAN COMPASS

AS

you sail into the inner lagoon of Marigot Bay, St. Lucia, look to the north. You will see a few buildings along the shore, behind which the land climbs to a 600-foot-high ridge. The top part of this hill is a national park and there are two excellent short hikes here. If all goes according to plan, one day they will be linked by a well-marked ridge trail, which will allow you to start at Rainforest Hideaway and end at Doolittle’s. The main ridge hike takes about an hour from the dock to the top and back again. The trail for this hike starts near Rainforest Hideaway. (If you eat in this romantic and upscale restaurant the night before, you won’t have to feel guilty about the calories as you will hike them all off the next morning!) The best and easiest way to find the trail is to dock the dinghy at Rainforest Hideaway, wander up to the Mango Beach Inn, and ask the staff to put you on the trail, which starts at the their highest gate. Mango Beach’s Judith Verity and her team have been really kind about this, and for a small fee can also supply you with a guide in the form of Jo Jo, their gardener. However, if you prefer to find your own way from the water’s edge, here is how you do it: Walk up past the bar at Rainforest Hideaway, pass through the first gate right above, and then follow the wooden walkway and steps down just to the east of Rainforest Hideaway. A path here leads through the mangroves. But after just a few steps (and the path is really unclear at this point), head uphill. The first part of the path is poorly marked but it basically runs outside the fence line of Mango Beach Inn and joins the main path at the top gate of the Mango Beach Inn property. From here on up the path is very clear and looks like it was designed by an engineer as it goes directly and almost in a straight line to the top of the ridge. It can be slippery and is very steep in places, but trees are often perfectly positioned to make

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