Of St John That Is
13.02.2011 - 13.02.2011 78 °F
In St John, Cruz Bay is town and the Coral Bay area is called the other side. We passed through Coral Bay -- stopping at Skinny Legs -- two days ago enroute to The East End.
After getting another late start at 11:00 AM due to too much blogging we were further delayed by a few dumb asses blocking the road.
At the "triangle" in Coral Bay we turned right and proceeded 3.6 miles to the trailhead that leads to Salt Pond Beach, Drunk Bay, Blue Cobblestone Beach and Ram's Head Trail. The sign in the parking lot at the trailhead said Salt Pond 0.3 miles ... being all downhill we made it there in 7 minutes.
Another sign at the edge of the Salt Pond Beach said Ram's Head 0.9 miles (1 hour hike time). We had been forewarned in numerous publications that this hike is hot and dry ... we were prepared carrying 1 gal. of H2O. Here is the beginning of the trail.
It really was hot and dry with no wind which made it hotter. It seems that the high mountain blocks the rain and the wind and leaves only heat. Big cactus grow on this side of the island. This trail is very scenic. After only about 20 minutes of hiking the broad Blue Cobblestone Beach came into view. After a brief descent we were standing on the beach.
We got our first experience of the beach art that prior hikers have created with the rocks and coral on select St John beaches.
This is the view from the Blue Cobblestone Beach looking back toward Coral Bay side.
One of the most talked about portions of the Ram's Head Trail is what has been called the Wind Tunnel. It is sort of a large crack, or low spot, in the mountain and the trade winds come blasting through. Spoiler Alert: notice black clouds in background.
Just behind you while standing in the wind tunnel is this rather out of place looking field of dry grass and cacti.
We got caught in a pretty decent downpour while making the final ascent onto Ram's Head. This turned out to be a real adventure. It served to cool us down, but cost us 15 minutes waiting for the skies to clear enough to take photos. We got a great pic of the waves crashing against the chin of the Ram 200 feet below.
A nice couple took our picture standing in the wind tunnel with waves crashing upon the rocks far below us.
On the return trip to Salt Pond, we rounded a bend and everything looked very vivid in the bright afternoon sun. This is the Salt Pond Bay shoreline.
We then took the spur trail 0.2 miles along the mangrove pond to Drunk Bay. Here is the view looking toward the ocean and another view back over the mangrove pond.
We read about Drunk Bay 100 times, but nothing really prepares you for what you see when you get there. See, almost all of the St John beaches are quite calm, and pretty. Some are purely wonderful. All the publications state DO NOT swim and snorkel at Drunk Bay. Here is why ... it's rough and rocky.
Another thing that makes Drunk Bay very unique is an incredible collection of art that has been crafted from all of the odd things that have washed up on this rocky beach. The creations are only limited by the creativeness of the artist that created them.
This particular piece of art is sort of PG-13 rated. I think that people have been slipping this guy some Viagra. I guess some folks prefer sheep.
Since neither of us are artist, we did not add to the fine art collection at Drunk Bay, we simply returned along the spur trail back to Salt Pond Beach and decided not to go snorkeling. The reports from the on-hand snorklers were that Salt Pond Bay provided excellent snorkeling. We wanted to get back into Cruz Bay early this evening to see a band at The Beach Bar. We continued out Salt Pond Road or Lameshur Road or whatever is is called beyond Salt Pond. Our odomoter read mile 3.6 and the end of the road is at 5.8, so we went for it.
We have read over and over that the dirt road portion that leads to Big and Little Lameshur Bay is recommended for 4 WD only and most rental car companies do not want their vehicles down this road. For me, that means we gotta go check this out ... that is what we did. It was the worst road we drove on in all of St John, but it still wasn't all that bad. Yes, there are a couple incredibly steep parts and insane hairpin turns. Yes, there are deep ruts and sharp rocks sticking up. Yes, I bet it would be 3 times worse in wet conditions. But we made it to the end and back and we saw both Lameshur Bays & Beaches in the process. Big Lameshur is another Blue Cobblestone Beach and Little Lameshur is a beuatiful, quaint, secluded white-sand beach.
On the way back out of there we snapped a couple ground-level pictures from the "other side" of Coral Bay. Most pictures of Coral Bay come from high above at Bordeaux Moutain where you see the bay dotted with hundred's of sailboat. Here it is from sea-level.
Although Michelle really wanted to use the rest of the afternoon to see more beaches, hike more trails, snorkel more reefs and get back to the condo at dark like we had done the previous three days, I had grilled her that we had to get back early to go see Inner Visions at The Beach Bar ... for 4:00 PM. So we arrived back at the condo for 4:40. Even though we were late, the band was later. They were unloading their equipment when we passed The Beach Bar.
We used the time wisely ... by popping the cork on some champagne and feasting on crackers and cheese.
Somewhere around 5:10 the unmistakeable rhythms of a reggea band traveled on the trade winds to greet my ears ... quickly bringing a smile to my face. We vacated the condo, trekked down the hill and selected a prime spot at the bar directly in front of the band. The sign in the doorway said Happy Hour 4-7 - $4 Painkillers. We flagged down one of the overworked bartenders and shouted 2 painkillers please.
We are not very big fans or rum to begin with, but it does seem to go very well with the conditions on St John. I am sad to report that the painkillers lasted no longer than 5 minutes. We discussed what to order next and the concensus was to get something we had not tried yet, so we called out for 2 Bushwackers.
We were getting a message from our stomach that plenty tropical drinks without any food is a big no-no, so we looked over the menu and opted for the crab dip. It was suprisingly good ... pretty tangy like it would have been made by an authentic cajun.
Sometime while I was still working on my Bushwacker, Michelle's cup ran dry prompting her to order a rum punch. That was her first big mistake of the evening. She drained the rum punch and began to get that look like, yee-haw ain't we having fun. By this time, all I could think was, damn this is gotta be one of the best reggae groups I have ever heard. So good, we aquired two of their CD's during the intermission. Half-way through the second set we ordered another round of painfillers and we both started to get that yee-haw look.
As you readers have probably already figured out, we had consumed too many rum-based products. That did not stop us from ordering one final drink ... a rum punch. The next morning we vowed not to drink so much rum next time we come to St John.
Things were a little out of hand by now, and even though the band was still playing we decided it best to head back up the hill to Gallows Point. We were unable to accomplish that without an out-of-body experience. Michelle was intrigued by a gentleman who goes by the nickname of "The Ghost From Jost"
This guy claimed to be traveling with the band. He also claimed to be a poet and began to recite several of his finest works just for us. I sensed that he was clued into the dumbfounded looks on our face, because he grabbed a folder and produced written copies of his special brand of poetry, at least one of which was also PG-13 rated.
We finally stumbled up the hill sort of shell-shocked from our encounter with Mr Ghost.