St. John USVI Trails: Tektite TrailExcerpted from St. John Off the Beaten Track © 2006 Gerald Singer
The name of the project, Tektite, comes from a glassy meteorite that can be found on the sea bottom.
An underwater habitat, which was built by GE and originally designed to be the model for the orbiting skylab, was placed on concrete footings 50 feet below the surface of Beehive Cove. It consisted of two eighteen-foot high towers joined together by a passageway.
Inside the towers were four circular rooms twelve feet in diameter. There was also a room, which served as a galley and a bunkhouse, a laboratory, and an engine room. The habitat was equipped with a hot shower, a fully equipped kitchen, blue window curtains, a radio and a television. A room on the lowest level called the wet room was where the divers could enter and leave the habitat through a hatch in the floor that always stayed open.
The four aquanauts, Ed Clifton, Conrad Mahnken, Richard Waller and John VanDerwalker, who took part in the first Tektite Project lived under constant surveillance by cameras and microphones and often slept monitored by electroencephalograms and electrocardiograms to monitor their heart rates, brain waves and sleep patterns. The project lasted for 58 days and the men set a world record for time spent underwater, breaking the old record of 30 days held by astronaut Scott Carpenter in the Sea Lab II Habitat.
The trail begins 60 feet west of of the top of the steep concrete road leading down to Lameshur Bay at the beginning of which are the remains of an old gate.
The trail rises steeply through dry forest vegetation. Beginning at elevation 193 and rising to 354, there is an ascent of 161 feet over a relatively short distance, so pace yourself accordingly.
At the top of hill where the trail meets the remains of an old bulldozed road and the ruins of a stone structure. You will be rewarded with beautiful views and refreshing tradewinds to cool you off after the steep, sunny climb.The trail continues over the ridge of the hill and begins a gentle decent leading to a grassy area with views to to east, south and west.
Horn Point Spur
Cabritte Horn Point is also an excellent place to observe sea birds - pelicans, frigate birds gulls and boobies.
The trail leads to a deep gorge with sheer rock walls descending to the sea, so narrow you could easily jump over it. (You don't have to - the trail leads around it.)
to the Main Trail
A short spur to the right, marked by an arrow painted on a rock, leads down to the Lameshur shoreline. From here you can scramble over the rocks on the coastline to the beach at Donkey Cove and then on to Great Lameshur Bay and the South Shore Road.
The main trail continues to a knoll overlooking the rocky coast of Beehive Cove. From the overlook, the trail continues to a point where you can scramble down to the sea. Near the sea, is a small cave the interior of which is lined in most part by beautiful quartz formations.
The Tektite snorkel area is just offshore, but this is not a convenient place to enter the water.
St. John Life Blogs about the Tektite Trail