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Sandy Cruz Hike is no Walk in the Park

Day 2 of hiking on Saba challenges and fascinates

semi-overcast 82 °F

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The Sandy Cruz Trail is the 2nd most popular hike on Saba, so a perfect choice for day two

So if we hiked the most popular trail on Saba on our first day, what is the natural thing to do on our second? Hike the second most popular trail, of course! The Sandy Cruz trail on Saba passes through rainforest and goes up and down steep ravines that make you consider where each footstep will land to avoid slipping on the wet rocks, roots, or mud. I truly felt like an explorer trekking through jungle and half-expected to stumble across the ruins of a long-forgotten temple cloaked in moss, mist, and jungle vegetation. If yesterday’s hike to Mt.Scenery’s peak was physically demanding, Sandy Cruz was also mentally challenging as you picked your way through the jungle hoping not to slip and injure yourself.

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The path on the trail was slick and composed mostly of mossy rocks, roots, and mud

I know that probably doesn’t sound like the greatest endorsement for a day’s enjoyment. But it was a visually stunning hike. When we set off from the trailhead (dropped off by the ubiquitous Garvis — the taxi driver who picked us up at the airport yesterday and seems to be the most popular driver in Saba), it was a misty, late morning. The whiffs of Cloud and fog that drifted across the trail seemed the perfect atmosphere for a jungle hike. With the vegetation cloaking the views all around, the gray fog shrouded any further vistas and I truly felt I was hiking the Lost World. Today, I took the hotel’s advice and borrowed a walking stick. I smiled and remembered a fantasy novel I’d read long ago in which the character called his walking stick a “Whackum” stick - keeping it on hand partly to whack any creatures that might have a mind to attack. So, I joked to myself that I really didn’t need it for the hike, it was in hand to deal with any Lost World denizens that might appear out of the gloom.

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Our first break from the mist and cloud service was a view of Saba’s tiny airstrip and the coastline

Truth was, though, that walking stick was absolutely necessary on this hike. Not for any Compys (Procompsognathus in Jurassic Park), but as the much-needed third leg in this biosphere not designed for bipeds. As the hike progressed, I grew to rely on my third leg more and more. You absolutely had to plan where each footfall would land, and where you would plant the stick to brace yourself if one of your feet slipped. This is what made today’s hike much more mentally challenging than yesterday’s. At one point, I even mentally said where each would go: “Stick, right, left, stick, right, left.” More than once I looked ahead and said to myself, “You’re kidding! I am going up (or down) THERE?”

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At one point, we spotted a Sea Saba dive boat - would we be on one of those tomorrow for our snorkeling trip?

With the close jungle scenery, I didn’t mind the misty day until we got to our first scenic viewpoint. A bench sat looking at a gray embankment of clouds marking the spot. We knew we were overlooking the coast - we could feel the breeze on our faces and stopped to cool off and sip some water. I shook my head, thinking, “Really, Saba? You’re going to treat me like this on my stay?” Just then I noticed a slight clearing in the mist. I could make out the shape of the coastline. As it cleared more, I noticed we were looking down at the airport runway. I took a couple pictures of the fog-shrouded views, and all the while it cleared even more. Soon, I switched from my iPhone to my Nikon digital SLR camera. And it was almost as if Saba was apologizing for its cruel trick yesterday. The sun even came out! I took quite a few pictures of a nice view - not stunning or spectacular. But hey! Who knew when this might happen again?

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More pretty coastal views while the sun was out and we had a view of the sea

We continued on, spotting a scuba boat moored off of a picturesque rock spike sticking out of the ocean about a hundred yards offshore like a flint spear. Zooming in, we could see it belonged to Sea Saba - who we hopefully be joining tomorrow for a snorkeling excursion. We saw a couple more sunny coastal views before the path dived back inland and we were immersed in the jungle again. The most difficult part of the hike was about halfway through when it descended steeply in a series of switchbacks in a ravine between two creeks. Our progress slowed to an absolute crawl. Every step, every placement of the walking stick was carefully planned. Even with my care, my feet slid out from me at one point and I fell onto my back. My walking stick clattered out of my grasp. I paused, made sure there were no obvious injuries, and struggled to my feet. Lucky! No scrapes, no bruises. My backpack had cushioned my fall.

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Hiking in the rainforest of Saba was truly like exploring the jungles of a Lost World

The ravine seemed to go down forever. When we finally bottomed out and began to climb, I was grateful. I knew from the contour lines on our map that soon it would level off, and most of our progress would be along the slopes of a hill. Not up and down. And so it was. The trail became markedly easier and you did not have to be laser-focused on every step. The scenery became more like what I might see back home on a hike in Ohio, and less like the Lost World. We spotted the coastline again through the trees. And then, almost suddenly, we met the trailhead on the other side and were walking on pavement. We came out high above the picturesque settlement known as the Bottom. It was framed by high hills and a stunning backdrop of the blue sea.

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The Sandy Cruz Trail was both mentally and physically challenging

We slowly made our way down the road. There is only one road on Saba and it is known as - wait for it - “The Road.” I kept my SLR out the whole way down, switching between my normal lens and telephoto. The cottages and homes of the people living along the road with its million dollar view were quaint and gorgeously landscapes and maintained. It would be a treat to wake up each morning to that view. The road was very steep, and even though I wasn’t worried about slipping, I kept my walking stick in hand to ease my descent. There is something about a hilltop view of orange terra cotta roofs, white walls, green slopes, and shimmering blue sea that is pleasing on an artistic, relaxing, and tranquil level. Although I had enjoyed my time in Saba so far, I had yet to see any place where I could say, “Yeah, I could live here.” This hilltop view of the Bottom awoke that in me for the first time on the island.

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And suddenly, we were out of the jungle enjoying stunning views of Saba’s mountainous landscape

Soon, we reached the outskirts of town, and then were on the Main Street proper. We found a cafe recommended by the owners of Juliana’s, and settled in to refresh ourselves. I quickly sucked down the lemonade, then savored the crisp lager. We watched the traffic go by, wondering at all of the cars and trucks bedecked in red, yellow, and blue flags. We later learned it was the substantial Columbian workforce on the island celebrating their homeland’s Independence Day. After finishing our lemonades and lagers, we summoned Garvis to pick us up.

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The Bottom - if Saba is a lady, she has a beautiful village named the Bottom

The drive back to Juliana’s was stunning. Saba is truly an island with gorgeous views. I need to make sure not to spend all of my time in the jungle and instead remember to savor its mountainous views. It was a great second day in Saba, all in all. We had an amazing, challenging hike and were rewarded with stunning scenery. The island I’d never heard of a couple months ago continues to amaze.

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Another view of Saba’s spectacular scenery

Posted by world_wide_mike 23:33 Archived in Caribbean Netherlands

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