Tag Archives: tektite

St. John Trails: Cabritte Horn Point Trail Revisited

Cabritte Horn Point Trail

cabritte horn overlook

cabritte horn tral articleA few days ago, I read a travel article mentioning the Cabritte Horn Trail. I hadn’t walked that trail in some time and I was under the impression that because it s not maintained by either the National Park or by Friends of the Park volunteers that it would be overgrown and not easily passable. Having a travel writer describe it intrigued me, so yesterday I ventured out to Coral Bay and headed up the Tektite Trail to the Cabritte Horn intersection.

guinea grassAs I suspected, the trail was overgrown, but just in small sections and mostly by Guinea Grass, so it was no big problem to stay on the trail and walk through the areas of tall Guinea grass.

Having said this, there are along the way, narrow goat trails and old trails leading to a number of beautiful overlooks, of for which, the Tektite Trail is probably unequaled on St. John. Because of this and because, as I mentioned before, that the trail is overgrown in sections, I would strongly recommend using a GPS loaded with the Trail Bandit Map or take advantage of the St. John Off the Beaten Track App on your iPhone or Android device.

St. John Off The Beaten Track App Location Option
The blue dot indicates “My Location” on the St. John Off the Beaten Track App

Cabritte Horn Tektite IntersectionThe Cabritte Horn Spur leads south and is marked by a cairn.

gorge-9Along the way to the point, you will pass several areas of spectacular views to both the east and west and will pass by a deep rocky gorge just before reaching the dramatic summit of the Cabritte Horn Point that extends out to the sea on St. John’s south coast.

Following is a short video that I took while enjoying the view from that windswept hilltop:


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St. John News and Happenings

St. John News

Fence and Beach Hut Raise Questions with CZM, Neighbors
By Lynda Lohr — March 29, 2014

The erection of a fence with no trespassing signs and a tarp-roofed structure to block access to a narrow strip of beach at Hansen Bay on St. John’s east end has upset residents and visitors who use the beach regularly.

Additionally, St. John Administrator Leona Smith said, the man claims to own the beach. “Nobody owns the beach,” Smith said.

Whether he actually owns the property inland of the shoreline is unclear, said Jean-Pierre Oriol, who heads Planning and Natural Resources’ Coastal Zone Management Division. Oriol said Friday that ownership is under investigation but he identified the person who put up the fence and structure as Elroy Ashtian.

Ashtian is in hot water with CZM for developing the property without the necessary permit.

The fence appears to violate the territory’s open shoreline act, which says “no person, firm, corporation, association or other legal entity shall create, erect, maintain or construct any obstruction, barrier or restraint of any nature whatsoever upon, across or within the shorelines of the U.S. Virgin Islands as defined in this section, which would interfere with the right of the public individually and collectively to use and enjoy any shoreline.”

The shoreline is defined as “the area along the coastlines of the U.S. Virgin Islands from the seaward line of low tide, running inland a distance of 50 feet; or to the extreme seaward boundary of natural vegetation which spreads continuously inland; or to a natural barrier; whichever is the shortest distance.”… read more

Aquanauts Gather for 45th Tektite Anniversary
By Lynda Lohr — March 30, 2014

Aquanauts Ed Clifton, left, and Ian Koblick listen as John VanDerwalker talks about the early days of the Tektite project.

Aquanauts Ed Clifton, left, and Ian Koblick listen as John VanDerwalker talks about the early days of the Tektite project.

With stories to tell about their adventures on both Tektite 1 and II underwater habitats, four of those involved with the project to reminisce on Tektite I’s 45th anniversary.

The first Tektite project lasted from Feb. 15 to April 15, 1969, under the waters of Lameshur Bay.

“Our toilet was a 50-gallon barrel cut in half with a stool over it,” John VanDerwalker, 77, said, adding that when the contents got rank, they poured diesel over it and set it on fire.

The underwater habitat often had problems, and VanDerwalker spoke at length about how they had to jury rig the scrubber using a G.E. canister vacuum to keep the carbon dioxide in the air from reaching dangerous levels.

What is now VIERS was the base camp for the underwater Tektite missions. Although the road to VIERS is now partially paved, the location is still one of the most remote on St. John. In 1969, when the first Tektite mission took place, it was truly the back of the beyond. It was easier to get there by boat. Conditions were still primitive when 11 missions on Tektite II happened in 1970.

In the 1960s, the United States was in a race with Russia for space dominance, and Russia was winning. The Tektite project was developed to provide an environment similar to space for training and scientific purposes. It sat about 600 feet below the water’s surface out in Lameshur Bay.

While VanDerwalker in particular was quick with tales about the primitive conditions, Ed Clifton, an aquanaut on Tektite 1 and II missions, spoke at length about the science involved…. read more

The Tektite Trail

St. John Live Music Schedule

Aqua Bistro
Lauren & Bo
3:30 – 6:30

High Tide
Steel Pan
Happy Hour 4:00 – 7:00

Ocean Grill
David Laabs
6:30 – 9:30

Shipwreck Landing
Hot Club of Coral Bay
6:30 – 9:30

Sun Dog
Sunday Night Jam
6:30 – 9:30

See Weekly Schedule

St. John Weather

Scattered showers, mainly before noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 76. East southeast wind 14 to 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.

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St. John Views and Overlooks

St. John Trails: Tektite - Cabritte Horn Point
View from the Cabritte Horn Point Spur Trail

Where to Find the Best Views and Overlooks on St. John

St. John Overlooks: Caneel Bay
Caneel Bay Overlook

Today we’ll talk about ocean view overlooks. Not including that fantastic view from your own house or rented villa, the easiest to enjoy are those that can be had from highway overlooks, like the Caneel Bay Overlook, pictured on the right.

The second possibility for that island panorama experience are the overlooks to be found on the many trails throughout the interior of St. John, some easy to reach, some not so easy. Check out St. John Off the Beaten Track and Pam Gaffin’s, St. John Feet Fins & Four Wheel Drive for invaluable trail and island information.

Cabritte Horn Spur Trail
The Tektite Trail is probably the most scenic of all the St. John trails. Ones you get to the top of the first rise, you’ll be treated to view after spectacular view. While you’re on the Tektite Trail, be sure and take the opportunity hike the Cabritte Horn Spur whose awesome scenic overlooks will rival even the best ones on the main trail.

New St. John Website from Hillcrest Guest House
Link to Hillcrest Guest House Webcam

St John Live Music Schedule Thursday 12/6

Banana Deck
Steel Pan by Lemuel Samuels
6:00 – 9:00

Barefoot Cowboy Lounge
Erin Hart
7:00 – 9:00


Miss Lucy’s
Jazz with Rich and Greg
6:00 – 9:00

Morgan’s Mango
Mark Wallace
6:00 – 9:30

Ocean Grill
Chris Carsel
6:30 – 9:00

Erin Hart
7:00 – 10:00

James Milne
5:00 – 8:00

Inn at Tamarind Court
Steel Pan
6:00 – 9:00

See Weekly Schedule

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St. John Snorkels: Tektite

tektite snorkel cave
Dalti finds a cave at Tektite

Yesterday, we snorkeled at Tektite. We came by boat, but it is also possible to get there by land.

Although the coral reefs around St. John and in the Caribbean in general have suffered considerably in modern times, there’s still a lot of beauty to be enjoyed and the Tektite snorkel is a case in point.

For example, the coral encrustations on the rock walls still have brightly colored orange cup corals, sponges and other invertebrates.

 rock wall at tektite  sponge on tektite rock wall cup coral

Nurse SharkWe also saw lots of fish and cool creatures like this nurse shark and the little camera shy lobster that stayed hiding in it’s little hole in the reef.

We found two caves; one as shown in the above photo and another one further east. It was a really beautiful day, clear blue skies with passing rain squall adding a dramatic effect.

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St. John Adventure: Dolphins & Turtles

St. John Sea Creatures: Dolphins
Michelle & Dolphin
St. John Marine Life: Hawksbill Turtle
Hawksbill Turtle

It was a beautiful day for power boats. Hardly a breeze, calm seas and sunshine, except for this one big gray cloud that extended from horizon to horizon just to the north. So I got off the computer and got into the boat and headed up the south coast of St. John with my friend Michelle. Did a little snorkeling over at Tektite, where I was able to photograph a little hawksbill turtle down about 15 feet or so in the reef.

From Tektite we motored over to the north where found dolphins, dozens and dozens of dolphins. They were heading east toward the BVI. Some were traveling alone, some in pairs and some in threes. Sometimes they came right over to the boat and dove under the bow. Big, beautiful, graceful animals! What good luck to find them!

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St. John News & Happenings

St. John Photo of the Day
St. John Trails: Beehive Cove, Tektite Trail

Photo taken from the Tektite Trail of Beehive Cove.

St. John News

“Lost” Petroglyphs Rediscovered at Virgin Islands National Park…read more

Gov. DeJongh Seeking $42M for Broadband Infrastructure…read more

Live Music on St. John Wednesday, March 2

Castaways – Steven Sloan – 7:00 – 777-3316
Coconut Coast StudiosSt. John Flutes – 5:30 -7:00 – 776-6944
High Tide – Chris Carsel – 7:00 – 10:00?714-6169
Island BluesJames Cobb – 7:00 – 10:00 – 776-6800
Larry’s Landing – James Jams – 10:00 – 693-8802
Sun Dog Cafe – Open Mic with Mark Wallace – 7:00 – 10:00 – 693 8340
Westin, Cruz Bay Prime – David Laabs – 6:30 – 10:00 – 693-8802

A word of caution to my visitors: I’m doing the best I can to present an accurate music schedule, but to be sure, it would be a great idea to call the restaurant or bar beforehand to confirm.

Weekly Music Schedule

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St. John Trails Update

sunrise over chocolate hole
Sunday Morning Sunrise

Chocolate Hole, St. John US Virgin Islands (USVI)
Notwithstanding the Flash Flood Warning and the high probability of rain, my weather forecast system of looking out at the sky served me well and yesterday’s hike was rain free.

Last night however, it rained like crazy with thunder and lightning and high winds. So far this morning so good, but it sure looks like rain. Unless it looks better later on today, I’ll probably cancel my planned visit to Jost Van Dyke.

Being that I’m in the process of another book reprint for St. John Off The Beaten Track, I’ve been revisiting the island’s trails to check for changes since the last printing. I’ve also been concerned about trail conditions after the winds of Hurricane Earl and the flooding from Hurricane Otto. Following are reports from last week’s St. John trail hikes.

Francis Bay Trail
The Francis Bay Trail remains in good condition with the exception that part of the new boardwalk constructed for handicap access is now under water. This is undoubtedly due to the unusual amount of rain we’ve experienced lately and will correct itself in the coming months.

Maria Hope Road
The Maria Hope Trail is still in good condition even though there been no improvements or maintenance done on the trail by National Park contractors. The one good overlook has filled in with vegetation and although still providing views they’re not quite as outstanding as before.

Guinea Grass on the Tektite Trail
Guinea Grass (photo by Yelena Rogers)

Tektite Trail
Like the Maria Hope Road, the Tektite Trail remains in good condition despite lack of maintenance. The sections of trail passing trough fields of guinea grass are beginning to become overgrown and may be difficult to follow in the future if the trail does not continue to be well used by hikers.

L'Esperance Estate

L’Esperance Road
The L’Esperance Trail is also in good condition as are the L’Esperance and Seiban ruins cleared by volunteers last year. These estates, however are beginning to show signs of being reclaimed by bush if a campaign of maintenance by either contractors or volunteers is not initiated.

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Hiking With the St. John Explorers Club

Tektite Trail Aubrey Goat Trail
View from the Aubrey Goat Trail
the route

I’ve been meaning to go hiking with these guys for some time now, but yesterday was my first experience.

Let me tell you, this is a serious hiking club going on some serious “off the beaten track” (why do I like that term?) hikes.

We met at Salt Pond Bay at 8:30 in the morning. and head out shortly thereafter taking the dirt tracks that lead to Kiddle and Grootpan Bays.

Our first stop is at Kiddel Bay where we relax for a while enjoying the cool ocean breeze and another beautiful St John morning.

Next stop Grootpan Bay the long cobblestone beach just to the west of Kiddel.

We walk the length of the beach lead by our fearless leader, Dick Corkhill, who discovers the entrance to the trail that will take us up to the hillside to meet the Tektite Trail.

St. John Virgin Islands Beaches: Grootpan Bay
Explorers at Grootpan Bay

Dick Corkhill, St. John Explorers leader
Our Guide
Dick finds the entrance to the Aubrey Goat Trail

This narrow steep path is called Aubrey’s Goat Trail, as it was probably made by goats, but kept up by a man named Aubrey who lives nearby and who used the trail to get to his goats that grazed on the grassy hilltops above.

The trail is steep and can be slippery when wet, but the explorers negotiate it ease. At any point you can turn around and gaze out onto a magnificent scenic panorama.

Aubrey Goat Trail

View from Aubrey Goat Trail

At the top of the hill, we walk along the ridge until we meet the Cabritte Horn spur of the Tektite Trail

Next we walk out to Cabritte Horn Point, passing by a deep gorge and an overlook with a dramatic view down onto a cove formed by large boulders just offshore of the rocky headland.

We walk along ridge to meet the Tektite Trail


Leaving the Cabritte Horn Trail, we proceed to the Tektite Trail intersection, where we head out to a shaded overlook above the Tektite snorkel and dive area.

After a brief rest we backtrack to the trail intersection but this time follow the Tektite Trail to the trailhead at main road just above and to the west of greater Lameshur Bay and from there we walk back to the cars at Salt Pond.

Explorers at Cabritte Horn Point

View to the west from Cabritte Horn Point

rest stop above the Tektite snorkel area

I have some prior commitments to do so I don’t continue on with the explorers for the second part of their weekly get-together, which for today’s hike is lunch at Miss Lucy’s and if I heard right, lots of cold beers.

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