Wednesday, February 3, 2016

St. Lucia: Gros Piton Hike

Wednesday, Day 27

Well, the plan was to get up early this morning and head down to Gros Piton mountain.  But after a night of rainstorms, dogs barking, and the bedroom door randomly opening on its own...I didn't sleep much.  So when the alarm went off at 7am, I said no way and slept another hour.

I finally got up and moving, had some granola for breakfast, and eventually made it out the door around 9:15.  Only like two hours later than I wanted.  No big deal. ;)

These are the "guard dogs" outside the apartment I'm staying at.  I would bark all night, too, if these were my living conditions.  On a chain forever.  So sad.  :(

It rained a little on the drive down to Soufriere (town in the southwestern part of St. Lucia). We stopped at a little spot on the side of the road for a good view, but it was a total tourist trap and I just got mobbed by people trying to get me to buy something from them.  So that was a really short stop.

One thing I've noticed here in St. Lucia is the amount of beggars and hustlers everywhere.  Way worse than the other Caribbean islands I've been on.  Maybe that's because there are more tourists here than other places, but man, it gets old.

It was a long, windy road along the eastern coast of St. Lucia.  Long as in it took about an hour and a half to make it down there.  That's a lot of curves for my stomach to handle.  

But every time I saw a glimpse of the Pitons I got so excited and tried to take a picture of them.  So now I have like 14 blurry pictures of them as taken from the car going around a curve. ;)

It's pretty easy to miss the little green sign to the Gros Piton trail -- and I did the first time. 

As soon as you even get close to the trail, people start walking towards you asking you if you're there to hike.  They want your business!

Abbigail, 24, was the winner today.  She was born and raised in the village below Gros Piton, and the first time she hiked it, she was 7 years old.  And barefoot.  What the... !?

After a brief description at the visitor center, I took off on her heels, up the rocks.

The trail was steep and not easy, but not really as hard as I had envisioned -- up to that point anyways. 

Abbigail spoke Creole and pretty good English, but the quote of the day was when she said, "And now we will enter in to some rock climbing, where you will use your hands to elevate your body."  HA - not quite correct English, but I got it. I just thought it was funny. 


About half way up, we got a break in the trees and the clouds and could see the end of St. Lucia one direction, and the other Piton, Petit Piton, the other direction.  What a view!

This was the start of the "rock climbing" section, and it wasn't easy.  

We made it to the top in record time, about an hour and a half.  A group of two guys left an hour before us and got there about 20 minutes after us.  I'm a fast hiker, Abbigail assured me. ;)

The view from the top was cool, but it was a cloudy day and there was a storm rolling in, so it wasn't perfection.  The clouds have screwed me out of the view twice now! (St. Vincent)

On the way down, Abbigail asked if I wanted to see "the other view" from the other side.  Of course I did, so we took a little detour and went the other way.  I was doubtful we would see anything with all the clouds, and I was right.  Could hardly see the edge of the mountain for the storm -- and it started raining, too!

Let me tell you, hiking up isn't bad, but hiking down on wet, slippery moss covered rocks and wood, is no easy feat.  It was so much harder than going up!

It took just as long to get down as it did up.  It usually does with me.  I'm fast up and slow down.

Round trip, it only took like 3.5 hours, and that was with some stops for pictures and a break at the top -- and that detour to the other side.

When we got back down, it really started raining in the village.  Like, pouring.  I took shelter under a tree until it let up some.

On the drive back towards Castries, a young lady came practically running after the car at a turn and was like, "Ride please!"  She was about to be late for work and had been waiting for a car to come by for a long time, so of course we let her get in!

She was just working up the road, and actually told us where to turn to get to the Sulphur Springs and mud bath -- the back way!  So we actually drove through from the hidden road and came through without paying!


And I'm glad we didn't pay because it wasn't worth it.  Just some natural hot springs and bubbling mountain really.  I've seen stuff like that before, not worth $8.

But I did want to see the "mud bath."  So I paid $5 for that back at the entrance -- that we bypassed the first time through.

I wish I would have checked that one out before paying, too, because I wouldn't have done it.  Such a tourist trap!

It basically was a hot springs run off full of tourists, and locals painting them up with mud from a bucket - not even natural!  Come on!

I didn't even get in.  Not a chance.

We picked up another woman walking along the road on the drive in to Soufriere, and she told us to eat at Petit Peak Restaurant along the water.

Found it easy enough, but I think it was another tourist spot.  All decorated up for Valentines' Day!

Menu items included:  Creole Yard bird and Spicy Treasure.  Haha! 

I went with a veggie roti -- basically a tortilla with veggies wrapped up in it.  It was pretty good!


There were a few other things I wanted to do down in the Soufriere area today - one of which was to check out Sugar Beach.  It looked amazing...and the sign was right on the side of the road for it.


It was a fancy resort, so you could only drive part of the way down, then walk the rest.  At least there was public beach access!

The place was just fantastic.  I mean, if I had money, I would totally stay there.  It was nestled in between the two piton mountains - a view on each side of this gorgeous beach in a bay with nice, calm turquoise water.  What else could you ask for?

These two ladies just walked around all day sweeping off the wooden walkway so sand didn't get on it!  

I really wanted to hike to a couple more waterfalls, but with the afternoon waning, I also really wanted to find a good spot to watch sunset!  So after looking at the map a hundred times, we ended u on this little windy dirt road along the coast.

It had some good views, but nothing promising for sunset. I wanted a view of both pitons AND the sunset.  Finding that was a challenge!

The closest thing I could get was along the side of the road:

But just a little further along the road there was a little hotel/restaurant that let me in to walk around.  I told them I just wanted a sunset view, not to eat, and they didn't care. 

This was a lot closer to what I was looking for. :)

Once sun went down, it was a long drive back to Castries.  

The view of Cannaries along the way:

It took about an hour and a half to make it back, and that included one stop at a grocery store for another bag of chips -- which I crushed.

Salad for dinner back at the apartment.  I mean, after a bag of chips, that's really all you need. ;)

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