Hike # 20 : Clydesdale to Cinchona

24 October 2009

Javon, Sheree, Vanessa, Terrick, Yashika, Deron, Marlon, Shanti, Dave, Quaine, Paul

So how many will it be? All of the 22 who emailed? And three vehicles, or four? Well, the weather forecast puts pay to that and eventually, by 8.35am, we are ready to leave Papine, eleven of us in just the one pick-up truck. The worst of the weather hasn't quite touched Jamaica and the morning is really quite pleasant,

A long drive, nearly and hour and a half, into the mountains and the weather still providing a good view of the high peaks as we reach the gap above Guava Ridge. The road down to St. Peters has deteriorated in places but it is the unpaved road from St. Peters to Clydesdale that provides more ‘excitement’, narrow, overgrown and replete with deep mud puddles. Fortunately, the 4WD copes and luckily no cars tagged along this time.

The buildings at Clydesdale have deteriorated even further, and the place is really overgrown. What was a comfortable guest house is now a shell. The coffee mill is still recognisable, with its large water wheel but the former bunk room is no longer there – no floor at all.

We set off on foot by about 10.15am, crossing the small stream in the road and then up the first steep part of the path to Cinchona. The best group for a long time – did not have to encourage / cajole any stragglers pleading they can go no further. Maybe the cool weather, maybe just a fitter set of hikers …

In the distance, but no too far away, the tall trees that mark our destination. No serious stragglers, but someone finding it hard going ???

As we reach Cinchona, we are now in the cloud and its just about raining. But still glad to have reached in just an hour an a half – the gardens still look enticing, despite the misty wetness. Umbrellas comes in useful for some… especially since raincoats seem to be in short supply in Jamaica.

Lunch is taken inside, thanks to one of the workers who willingly makes space. His food on the fire not quite ready as yet (not, it wasn’t for us) so we make do with bun, cheese and even fish for the vegetarian amongst us

The rain shower subsides, allowing the photo-shoot to take place in the well-kept gardens. Again, the buildings are suffering from lack of attention, with the wooden shingles on the main building ready now to let the rain in.

Still a wonderful place – we all vow to come back again soon on a warm and sunny day.

As we set off back down, a small break in the cloud cover provides a little of the spectacular panorama that normally greets the visitor, looking down on the terrace farming and across to those imposing mountains.

It’s easier going down, and more pleasant once we leave the dampness of the cloud cover above us. But there’s no coming down without going the other way first!

No guavas on the tree at Clydesdale, but happy to reach back to the truck, still dry despite the forecast.

Tempted at the swimming spot but a heavy shower stops the two or three who were readying for a dip (only because our clothes would have been wet up). Driving down, we stop at the guava tree spotted on the way up but the fruits are not the most tasty this time.

Back in Papine after the long and bumpy drive, much of it using the tarpaulin to keep off the worst of the rain. But warmer and content now that we have had a good day out in our wonderful mountains – even the ominous weather forecast didn’t stop those 11 of us. Sorry for the eleven who changed their minds…