20 || Last Hike
24th April Frances Bay, St John
We were both overjoyed when Governor Albert Bryan Jr., announced on the 20th April the beaches and hiking trails would be opened again for public use.
The inevitable was on the horizon, the hills were calling and we obliged. I would be climbing ever skywards, following the hiking bag.
We had been confined in a small space for some time and were both looking forward to stretching our legs. The route options were explained with precision. I thought we both needed to tackle the longer circular route upwards and then of course down. We were following an easy trail from Francis Bay to the Annaberg Ruins.
We stopped at the the Sugar Mill to explore the mill and the slaves homes. Ironically, these little homes were on the side of the hill overlooking the bay, which would be considered prime residential homes in modern times.
The path led to Leinster Bay trail which was along a broken coral beach at the waters edge in Watermelon Bay, it was great to see the bay from the land side. Iain and I had tacked into this bay on our way to Round Bay, causing much alarm to many of the boats on mooring buoys. I am sure this is not a sight our very chilled American hosts are familiar with. In fact, now that I think about it, it was not always welcomed on the Orwell either!
The trail lead to the ruins of an old grand house, we suspect was the Plantation owners home. From this vantage point we had some spectacular views of the bay and across to the British Virgin Islands. We continued upwards on Johnny Horn Trail where many plots of land have been sold for housing. The road changed dramatically into a path which would appear to have been dug out by a large earth excavator. The makings of a new road. It was steep and difficult to negotiate downwards but of course we did and found ourselves at the ruins of Emmaus Moravian Church, the first Church on the Island situated in a small town called Coral Bay. There was no where really convenient to stop in Coral and rest in the town as everything is closed, so we decided to continue. My energy and humour levels were at an end. Iain often finds this moment amusing. The combination of both are not favourable.
Having completed the first half to the other side of the island which obviously is at sea level, we faced the climb back up and then back down to Francis Bay. It was a very long hard walk along a very long, hot steep road. We always look a sorry pair when out walking. Iain in his hiking kit complete with rucksack, me in my Saturday morning shopping attire. People often take a double glance. As the gap widened between us on the upward climb, three times people stopped to ask me if I needed a lift to the top. Each time I refused, explaining I was with my husband who was ahead of me and we were doing this walk for fun!
Five hours later we returned to Francis Bay and I did not speak again. (Note - I insist Iain walks ahead when going uphill - if not he can drive me to a rage by the little comments on my performance whilst every morsel of my body is in agony from walking)
All this being said, it was good to get out and felt rewarding returning to the boat to a cool drink and a lovely lunch prepared by Iain.
We have reached the end of a six and a half week stay in the US Virgin Islands. We could not think of a nicer place to have spent this period of lockdown. We are very grateful to the Islands for taking us in when so many would not.
We have spent a week preparing for the next leg of our journey northwards out of the hurricane zone. We are planning our first stop in West Palm Beach, Florida.
A farewell rum punch in Francis Bay before we leave in the morning and our next adventure.