Yesterday morning, I woke up to a cloudy, rainy day, but instead of staying in I decided that we should take the car over to St. John and hike Reef Bay Trail. Reef Bay is one of the more popular trails, and I had been wanting to hike this trail since hearing about it several weeks ago. So, we packed a couple of backpacks full of water, snacks, bug spray, a rain jacket, a towel and sunscreen and headed off for the car ferry to St. John.
While driving the car to the port I had my doubts about the day. After all, the sky looked threatening, so I wasn’t sure that the rain would hold off. Regardless, we arrived at St. John at about 11:00 a.m. and drove our car 5 miles inland where we found the beginning of the trail. The trails on St. John are well groomed, but can be rocky, steep and slick in the rain. We started off on this 6 mile excursion heading downhill. This will be an important piece of information when I get around to talking about the trek back.
Since it was such a wet, cloudy day the trail was actually dark and misty in places. In fact, it seemed more like dusk than midday. I spent the first mile or so taking on and off my rain coat, trying to figure out if it was raining, or not because the canopy of trees was so thick that it covered us from most of the rain. However, if a breeze came through, then the rain from the leaves would shake off on us. Either way, I was enjoying the hike down the trail, as I took in the fresh sent of tropical rain and the calm sound of a stream flowing next to our trail along the way.
About 2 miles into our hike the path we were on met another side-track that led to some ancient petroglyphs and a waterfall, so we went to check it out. After trekking forward about ¼ a mile, we discovered an opening in the trees where the most beautiful waterfall plunged down into a pool of fresh water, then trickled off into a stream. Since it had rained so much, the waterfall was coming down forcefully, which made it all the more amazing to see. Right next to the waterfall, on some rocks, we found the petroglyphs that were carved by an Indian tribe sometime between 900-1500 AD. It was truly unbelievable, and I felt like a regular Lewis and Clark upon taking all of this in.
After resting by the waterfall, we decided to move forward to complete the first half of the hike. The rest of the trail provided some pretty interesting things. Mainly, we saw several sugar plantation ruins. Back in the late 1800 - 1916 sugar was a main export for the island, so there are sugarmill ruins all over the island. We also saw a few deer and several interesting trees. The Kopak tree that we came upon was the most interesting of them all, as the bottom of its trunk was considerably wider than most big trees. We also saw some lime trees, a pineapple tree and a mango tree.
|In front of the Kopak Tree.|
At the end of the trail you could see the ocean through a gap in the trees. We decided to cool off by taking a quick swim, which was especially nice since we had the beach to ourselves.
Of course, the way back wasn’t as exciting, since we had to retrace the steps we had already taken, but we moved ahead at a good pace, and I couldn’t help reminding myself that this day hiking was one of the reasons why I moved here. Hiking down a beautiful trail in the middle of the rainforest, seeing a waterfall and swimming in the ocean was all I needed to feel fulfilled. It made me feel like I was living life.
And then, we started the final incline back up the trail. This part of the trail took feeling alive and living life to another level, as the last mile was straight uphill, slick and rocky. I didn’t remember it being this steep on the way down, and I could feel my heart beat faster and faster on the way up. We continued on climbing up and up…panting all the way. At times I thought we were almost there, only to make a turn and see more uphill trail. Finally, we got to the top of the trail. I was exhausted, wet, hungry and thirsty, but I felt accomplished and slept peacefully that night when we got home.