Hike # 17 : Clydesdale - Cinchona

31 January 2009

Philippe, Nathalie, Sara, Franck, Sherona, Terri-Ann, Dickeesha, Crispin, Shawn, Chad, Javon, Jodi-Ann, Jamie, Gareth, Troy, Brent, Tricia, Mark, Nickoletia, Milton, Peta-Gay, Karl, Andre, Paul

Quite a crowd at the Papine gas station (24!!) , even if a few are a little late in arriving. Fortunately, enough vehicles available, although that is based on an assurance of the road to Clydesdale 'not being too bad'. Whether it was or not is a matter of opinion! After driving for an hour, with a stop to take pictures of Blue Mountain Peak (well, almost, since the Peak itself was surrounded by cloud), we pause by the turning at St. Peters that leads up to Clydesdale.

The road is then a little tough for the two cars but we do reach Clyesdale, parking by the ruins of what was once a very comfortable, two-story guest accommodation and a pine-tree potting facility / plant nursery. The old mill house is in an even worse state of repair, especially inside. Any sponsors reading this, your support is very much desired to rescue a part of our history.

But we are soon on our way, crossing a small fording whose water flows from high in the mountains down towards the sea at Yallahs. Quite a journey for each of those little raindrops...

Out into the open and beginning to feel that we are on top of the world, with magnificent views in every direction, and a warm blue sky smiling down on us.

But this first part of the walk is steep and some are perhaps having second thoughts. Not a very strenuous hike - is that what we were told?

No better way to cope with the burning chest and crying muscles than to contemplate those amazing mountains, of which we are now part, with nature. Millions of years have passed, and millions to come (we trust) - the mountains remain and we have taken our place amongst them, be it all too briefly.

But the path becomes easier at times, conversations replace the wheezing chest and new friendships are in the making. St. Helens Gap affords the most spectacular view looking south down the Yallahs River valley towards the St. Thomas coast, which is just about visible.

At our destination, Cinchona Botanical Gardens, some 5000 feet above sea level. The reward for the effort so very much worth it. We can only hope that heaven, when our time comes, is half as beautiful.

But hungry bellies need a little sustenance, as well as the spirit. A real picnic for one couple (not shown here) and an assortment of snacks for the rest of us, in some cases begged and borrowed...

The gardens are very well kept, a real credit to those who work here. Many thanks, indeed.

The flowers, including orchids and nastursiam (whose leaves give a real spice to a salad), surround the fish ponds and make a setting fit for any occasion - just a bit far for that wedding, perhaps, but better surely than even Strawberry Hill.

The journey back down the hill is much easier - and with spirits refreshed, a happy crowd soon finds its way once more at Clydsdale. Some dare to take a dip in the chilly river whilst others look on, missing out on a final ritual which has become part of a much-loved outing over the last three years for our Blue Mountain Club.

Those who remain crowd into what has now been reduced to just one car and the pick-up truck for the journey back home, leaving the goats to enjoy the serenity of this wonderful place

And for those who haven't yet been to Cinchona, one final (larger) picture to tempt you to join us next time...