There is more to the story behind the closure of this area than is being told by the Park Service. The people behind getting this area declared OFF LIMITS are none other than the dynamic duo of Eleanor Gibney and Gary Ray. Eleanor Gibney has a long history on St. John of trying to keep her special places hidden from the rest of us. One comment of hers that I have always liked is ”There are places where people should not go” except her and her friends of course. It seems that Gibney and Ray have been able to secure the White Cliffs as their own private place. Now that they have one place secured, I will bet that there will be others.
The Park Service did note in passing that an effort will be made to get Eugenia Earhartii listed on the federal endangered species list. What they should have told us is that Eugenia Earhartii is not on any endangered species list except the one in the minds of Gibney and Ray. Perhaps the plant should be renamed Eugenia Eleanorii which in English would be Eleanor’s Stopper. That sounds appropriate to me. Gary Ray has other ideas about how to claim more areas to protect without actually having to go there. This would help with Ms. Gibney’s idea of “places where people should not go.”
Gary says: “Drones could be particularly useful in tropical forests where much of the vegetation and wildlife is hidden from view or hard to survey due to the geography. A drone can fly over large areas of forest, hover over interesting bits, spot wildlife movement, or observe illegal deforestation in real-time to alert authorities. The environmental uses of drones is limited only by the imagination and field needs of the researcher. In the Virgin Islands, endangered species surveys are underway to identify species like Eugenia earhartii, an endemic plant only found on steep, rocky and treacherous slopes. Remote drones could be employed to easily access habitats where the plant might exist thus saving research time and surveyor energy to locate and map the rare species”
Here are a couple of photos of Eugenia earhartii from the illustrious Doctor Gary Ray
Perhaps he has something like the Predator in mind so that the various areas could be watched and any intruders could be eliminated. When the US finally gets itself out of the mess in Afghanistan, these aircraft could be made available to the ever expanding enforcement arm of the VINP.
Another thing that was mentioned by Gerald is that the trail along the White Cliffs is not new. It was used by workers in the 1800s to get back and forth between Europa Bay and Reef Bay. It is a historic trail and not, as the NPS claims a new, illegal trail.
This recently closed area and much of the dry forest area along the south shore of St. John is the home to herds of feral goats. Goats will eat anything and when food supplies get low, they eat everything. Closing this area to a few hikers who want to hike along this beautiful trail will do nothing to save any plant or prevent damage to the soil. The goats are the real culprits. Goats typically move into areas where people don’t go. Perhaps the signs should read “Please stay on the trail to protect rare plants”. This park was created to save the area for the enjoyment of all the people and future generations. It was not created for the sole enjoyment of the team of Gibney, Ray and company.
It is your park. Help fight to keep it open to all.
The Great Seiban provides a shorter route than taking the L’Esperance Road for those hikers wishing to visit the Seiban Estate or the Baobob Tree.
There are impressive views of Fish Bay and the Fish Bay Valley along the trail.
Getting There: Heading east on the Fish Bay Road, take the first left after crossing the bridge over the Fish Bay Gut, which is Cocoloba Trail, at the first intersection bear right, staying on the Cocoloba Trail Road. Take the first left and head up the hill to the first switchback. The trail begins there marked by white paint on the utility pole.
Distance: 0.5 mile
The Great seiban has a moderate incline with an elevation of about 360 feet at the Fish Bay trailhead and about 580 feet at the intersection of the L’Esperance Road, a gain of 220 feet over the half mile of trail.
About the Trail An old Danish Road, the Great Sieban, connects the L’Esperance Road at Estate Seiban to Fish Bay. The trail descends from the Sieban Ruins near the baobob tree, following the contour of the Fish Bay Valley and leads to a residential area of Fish Bay.
The hand-built road constructed in colonial times has weathered the centuries well, as can be seen by the good condition of much of the stone retaining walls supporting the lower side of the road.
The Great Sieban passes through shady moist forest with stands of guavaberry, West Indian Birch, genip and turpentine trees underneath which are bromeliads, anthuriums and love leaf.
Trail Condition January 17, 2013: The trail leading up to the Seiban ruins from Fish Bay is in very good condition, until you reach the upper elevations where guinea grass has overgrown the trail somewhat. The spur trail between the Seiban ruins and the L’Esperance Road is in poor condition. The Seiban ruins are in fair condition. The Grand Stairway is totally overgrown and the view into Fish Bay from the boulders behind the baobob tree is completely obscured by vegetation.
Estate Seiban – Grand Stairway – previous image
Grand Stairway – Estate Seiban – Present Condition (1/17/2013)
View from Baobob Tree – previous image – presently obscured
St. John Weather Mostly cloudy with rain showers
High of 82 degrees F.
Breezy: Winds from the North at 10 to 20 mph.
Chance of rain 20%
Water Temperature (Charlotte Amalie Harbor): 82 degrees F Sunrise: 6:54 AM AST – Sunset: 6:05 PM AST
St. John Live Music Schedule January 18, 2013
5:30 – 8:30
Barefoot Cowboy Lounge
7:00 – 9:00
Sol Driven Train
Mikey P 8:00
Dance Party 11:00
Eddie Bruce Drum Circle
6:30 – 8:00
Bo & Lauren
6:30 – 9:00
Fatty Crab Brian Campbell Trio
Inn at Tamarind Court
6:00 – 9:00
6:00 – 9:30
6:30 – 9:00
7:00 – 10:00
5:00 – 8:00
Chris Carsel & Company
6:30 – 9:30
Turk’s Head Cactus growing on top of cliff along the Lagoon Way Trail
The trail is marked to help you find your way.
A visitor to the blog sent me an email regarding a hike that I had not known of before. It’s out on the East End and runs along the cliffs of Red Point and then up to the hilltop. Someone has named it “Lagoon Way.”
This is not a National Park Trail. It goes through private property, although there are apparently no attempts to restrict public access at the present time.
The trail down to the pond is steep and rocky, so be careful not to slip on loose rocks or to attempt this trail on wet rainy days.
Parts of the trail are extremely narrow and will take you right on the edge rocky cliffs, so if you suffer from acrophobia,forget about it. Otherwise, be especially careful, a slip here could result in severe injury or worse.
Wear good shoes as there are suckers and other cacti along much of the trail.
How to get there:
Take the East End road the the end of East End. Turn left onto the dirt road past Sloop Jones and then take the low road on the right to the end where you’ll see a bench with a painted sign saying “Gary’s Seat.
Just to the right of the bench is a steep trail that heads down to the salt pond below. There is a knotted line placed there to aid you down the steep beginning of the trail.
View from trail to the salt pond
Walk down to the bottom of the trail which will take you to the salt pond behind the beach at Pond Bay.
“Right before you get to the beach, you should stay left, and not walk through the gate to Scott and Sabrina’s house. And after this left turn, look for a right just before you get to the flat. That will take you out to the beach. If you keep straight you’ll find the saltpond which is interesting in its own way.” Added by Ed Gibney 1/15
Once you reach the pond make your way to the rocky beach and walk along the shore to your left.
At the east end of the beach you’ll come to a trail going up towards the rocky headland marked with a sign post reading “Lagoon Way.”
This trail will take you to the edge of the cliffs along Red Point. The trail is narrow, rocky and extremely close to the cliff edge. Be careful!
The views from here are (what adjective to use here?) – impressive, dramatic – most definitely.
Walk along the cliff-side trail until it turns to head up the hillside. Watch out not to step on suckers or other cacti. The trail leads through a cactus scrub environment uphill until you come to another signpost with options to head for an overlook or to continue on to the top of the hill where an old turpentine tree stands.
You can continue hiking at the Turpentine Tree and the trail will loop back to the one you came up on.
Cactus on the trail up to the hilltop
Touching Christmas Bush, a cousin of Poison Ivy, should be avoided
View of Coral Bay
Old Lignum Vitae Tree alongside the trail
Maran Bush: what’s left after the goats eat everything else; also good for pot scrubbing
View of Norman Island in the BVI seen from overlook near hilltop
St. John Weather
Overcast with rain showers in the morning, then partly cloudy
High of 81 degrees F
Breezy: Winds from the ENE at 10 to 20 mph
Chance of rain 20%
Water Temperature (Charlotte Amalie Harbor) 82 degrees F
Sunrise: 6:54 AM AST – Sunset: 6:02 PM AST
There are some really spectacular views to be had from the many overlooks we have here on St. John. Some are easy to get to, like the popular Trunk Bay Overlook. Some aren’t so easy, but getting there is half the fun. If you want to personally experience the above overlook from More Hill, you can, but as I already said, “it ain’t easy”.
I haven’t been out there since April of 2010 and I imagine the trail hasn’t gotten any better, unless there are some determined hikers out there that have continued to improve the trail. If you want to find it, better bring a GPS and some clippers and be prepared for some catch ‘n’ keep along the way. The trail is marked as the red outlined number 23 on the Trail Bandit Map, which can be downloaded free or purchased by going to the Trail Bandit’s website
Click here for more information about this “St. John Off The Beaten Track” trail
St. John Live Music Schedule – Wednesday 11/14
Rascio on Steel Pan
6:00 – 8:00
Flip Flop Rock
Cruz Bay Prime
7:00 – 10:00
8:00 – 11:00
Sun Dog Cafe
Wednesday Night Jam
Lauren & Mark Wallce
If you only have enough time on St. John to hike one trail, then the Cinnamon Bay Self-Guiding Trail is the trail for you. Also, because the trail is relatively short, flat and shady, it’s a perfect choice for those who would like to experience a taste of the St. John interior, but who might be put off by the prospect of a long hike on the often hilly and rugged terrain characteristic of the St. John forest. As an added bonus, the Virgin Islands National Park has placed a series of wonderfully informative signs along the trail covering everything from history and culture to nature and environmental concerns. Read more
I’ve been noticing a disparity between the NOAA and Weather Underground sites with NOAA being consistently “glass half full” and Weather Underground “glass half empty”. Personally I prefer the NOAA take, which means it’s time to change the weather link on my main website
Estate Rustenberg Ruins
For those of you who would like to experience a St. John Off the Beaten Track experience, but would rather not exert themselves too much, a visit to the Rustenberg ruins would be an ideal choice. It’s a short walk along a level trail shaded by aromatic bay rum trees. The ruins are extensive and beautiful in their natural surroundings.
To get there, park across from the Cinnamon Bay trailhead on Centerline Road and walk up the road west, towards Cruz Bay, where you should find the trailhead, which may be more or less obvious depending on climatic conditions. Another alternative is to enter the forest about 50 yards or so and walk uphill until you reach the trail on the ridge and go left on the trail until you get to the ruins.
This full length feature documentary is a a profound, alternative look at the global bee crisis. Taking us on a journey through the catastrophic disappearance of bees and the mysterious world of the beehive, this engaging and ultimately uplifting film weaves an unusual and dramatic story of the heartfelt struggles of beekeepers, scientists and philosophers including Michael Pollan, Gunther Hauk and Vandana Shiva.
This film takes us on a pilgrimage around the world, 10,000 years of beekeeping is unveiled, highlighting how our historic and sacred relationship with bees has been lost due to highly mechanized industrial practices. The film goes on to reveal both the problems and the solutions in renewing a culture in balance with nature.
Join Mr. Smalls and other St. John bee keepers and learn about these wonderful insects that provide us with sweet honey and more.
Spectacular Views – Relatively Easy Hike
The Europa Point Trail, which is the first spur trail off of the Lameshur Bay Trail, leads to a vantage point high up on the point from where you can enjoy beautiful views of St. John’s south shore.
This is a great hike for those that are looking for a relatively easy hiking experience. Begin the hike at the eastern entrance to the Lameshur Bay Trail, where you’ll find the ruins of a hundred year old bay rum factory and an older sugar mill.
Here the Lameshur Bay Trail runs through a low lying area adjacent top the shoreline. It’s easy going, flat ground and lots of shade. You’ll pass by an old tamarind tree, on your left, split in two by lightning years ago.
Not far after passing the tamarind tree and before the trail begins its incline you’ll come to the entrance of the Europa Point Trail, now marked by a trail sign.
The approximately one-quarter-mile Europa Point Trail runs through a flat dry forest environment before rising into cactus scrub and guinea grass.
The trail ends at a lookout next to a narrow gorge.
Yesterday I hiked one of my all time favorite trails, the White Cliffs. As this is an unofficial trail within the National Park, it is not maintained by park personnel. This is a beautiful trail with outstanding views and provides an interesting alternative route to Reef Bay as well as really cool and challenging loop using the Lameshur Bay Trail for your return to the trailhead .
I wanted to see the condition of the trail after last summer’s collection of severe weather events. The trail was still in fairly good condition and in most parts easily followed. Of course a Trail Bandit map or even better a Trail Bandit map loaded GPS will always be a good friend.
It looks like as log as some hikers continue to use the trail on a somewhat regular basis, it will remain open, even better if you were to bring along a small clippers to cut back the unfriendly catch and keep, which appears from time to time along the trail.
The White Cliffs Trail begins at the Lameshur Bay Trail. Walk along the flats past the big old tamarind tree that looks like it was split in half by lightning some many years ago. You’ll pass the entrance to the Europa Point Trail, which to my pleasant surprise is now marked by a trail sign. Shortly after the Lameshur Bay Trail begins to rise, you’ll come to the Europa Bay Trail, which you’ll follow past a beautiful salt pond and on to the Europa Bay Beach.
Walk along the beach almost to the point at the end where you’ll find a narrow trail leading into the bush. This steep trail will take you to the ridge top from where there are some excellent views down into the Europa Bay Salt Pond, the Europa Bay Beach and onward to the east and south.
From the ridge, you can also walk out to the eastern point for views of the southern coastline of St. John out to Ram Head Point.
The trail leads through the forest on the ridge top eventually taking you through a guinea grass covered passage through some large rocks. After passing this the trail runs right along the edge of ridge with constant dramatic views of the coastline below.
The trail descends into the eastern portion of the rocky beach at Reef Bay.
To get to the Lameshur Bay Trail from here, walk west on the beach for as far as you can. At some point you’ll need to either get wet or head into the lowlands and make your way through the mangroves either back to the beach from where you can easily access the short trail to the Reef bay Sugar Factory ruins or inland to the Horsemill area of the ruins,
Then its a 1.1 mile easy going hike up the relatively flat section of the Reef Bay Trail to the more difficult 1.8 mile Lameshur Bay Trail, with it initial hill climb back to the starting point.
Challenging, but lots of fun. Let’s keep this trail open…
Despite the heavy rains, the Reef Bay Trail for the most part remained in fairly good condition, at least up to the Petroglyph and Lameshur Bay intersections.
The use of strategically placed stone culverts to deflect the water to the side of the trail and thus preventing the erosion that would be caused if the water just was allowed to run down the trail, did their jobs well.
This is not to say that you didn’t have to cross some rapidly running guts that were flowing over the trail.
It was definitely worth the effort as the Petroglyph waterfall was spectacular!
It was so good that I decided to brave the steep, muddy, slippery path that leads to the top of the falls and to the bottom of another waterfall that appeared to be about twice the height of the Petroglyph Falls.
Video of waterfall located just above the Petroglyph Falls