Green Day Hike with the EAG...
28 February 2009 | Boggy Peak/Now Obama Mountain, Antigua!
Becca B, first mate only mate
I'm so syked!!!
I heard mid-week that there was to be another walk with the Environmental Awareness Group today! I WANTED TO GO BADLY, LOTSLY. It was to be a hike up to the top of Boggy Peak, now called "Mount Obama"! (More on that in the "Island History" category!) Getting to the Agricultural Station in Christian Valley by 7am was going to be the challenge. I called for help from Judy of English Harbor Radio. If after announcing the event, would she add: "Altair wants to share a taxi, early Saturday am, call on Ch. 68 after the net". Judy was kind enough to do this for me for two days, but I didn't get one call. I finally reached Cap Green, who's the one organizing this hike on this end of the island. It turns out, he's a very 'green' guy (pun is appropriate) because he's an EAG board member (making his name even more punny, ugh). He not only picked me up and took me to the site but I had the good fortune to be in the company of Chris Platt, dedicated to the cause botanist, Nigel Whittington, Island Academy, EAG Activist and Professional mountain climber, and three super guides who were all equipped with bird, flora, fauna and Antigua knowledge to share.
The turnout was delightful! There was a huge group that was representing the EAG, either board, active or soon to be members. Then the rest of us, mere eco-novi (pl?), who were willing to learn and contribute $ to help the work continue. These walks transpire monthly around the island and I was thrilled to participate at this one! The group gathered at the Agricultural Mango Research Station in Christian Valley. This place is distinctive in that it is doing research on the most prestigious collection of mangos species in the world. They're renown for their work with guava and citrus too, with groves in abundance for as long as the eye can see. The AMRS is located at the base of the highest point on the island at 1319' which has been known as Boggy Peak until this year's election of the US President when they renamed it Obama Mountain.
For all those of you who know me, know I didn't waste a moment meeting the locals, cruisers and guides. Some were local lovers of nature who enjoyed sharing their generous acts of green help, a few cruiser's like us who agree to help protect and respect the islands we visit, and the guides who were extremely proud of their work to help protect the island from varments like goats, developers and non-indigenous plants.
They've done this before and know how to coordinate this many people. They counted us and insisted we stay with a buddy to prevent getting separated from the group and lost in the rain forest. Can't even imagine wandering around aimlessly after dark, in the forest....LOST AND ALONE!. Yeiks! We were advised to visit the 'facilities' because it was going to be hours before we got back. I quickly jumped at the opportunity, being a big water drinker, but I missed being counted, I thought. When I returned I asked to get a number because my buddy was #34. They HAD already assigned me either #1 or #2, How funny.
Kim was our group's EAG guide and she's a native. She believes we should all do our part yet she has a personal stake in the island...to save her and all fellow islander's homeland. I liked her alot, too. She was extemely knowledgeable and effervescent in addition to being loud enough so all of us behind her could hear what she was describing along the way. Her sense of humor was infectious. When you're climbing, more than 'walking or hiking' very much UP a mountain, you're breathing heavily and laughing, at yourself, alot. Just as we were entering the dense, really high forest before us, she described a voracious fig tree which will overtake and completely consume a host tree and stated they were'rootless', arrrrrrrrrr! I noticed the air starting to thin out, the higher we puffed. Laughing is normally effortless, but today it was 'breathless', HAH! Sorry.
It really was invigorating exercise and we cleaned up too. Cap and others bring bags for these hikes for rubbish removal along the trial! You would not believe the garbage! This IS A PROTECTED SITE FOR GOD'S SAKE! Car batteries, boat ladders, shoes, lots of them...bottles and plastic jugs, trash everywhere. Articles are being published in the local papers since the renaming of Boggy Peak, reflecting a concern that this nature trail, being the special place it is, will be compromised. They will have to work even harder to insure it's protection now! I emphatically agree with them. We just have to help in whatever way we know how to preserve our world for our kids and their kids. Extremely worthy, doncha think?
Mrs. Lisa Nicholson and her daughter were there. We asked her daughter who came up in her truck to take all that garbage down the mountain for us and she didn't hesitate even a blink to help either. That was gosh darn convenient for the hikers leaving our hands free for 'hugging' the trail on the way down. It was whispered Mrs. Nicholson was related to Vernon. That would be Commander Vernon Nicholson, who sailed into English Harbor back in l947. She was a spry old gal having not one bit of problem getting up or down that hill, ummmm, mountain. She was trying to tell a fellow 'old' geezer that they were septuagenarians, and proud of being able to keep up with the youngsters. Now think about it. If she is 70 to 80 years old, you do the math. I think she could've been the Commander's wife. Ok, I did the math and she'd have to be a 13 year old bride if she's 75. So maybe she's a descendant. A daughter. Would his wife have been on the boat with him? hmmm.. I'm going to have to find her and ask. She was very interesting.
By the time we got to the bottom of that mountain, I found out that she had gone to Harvard and majored in Fine Arts! We had been talking about art for the last hour while tripping, slipping and gripping trees and giggling all through our visit. All day long we had been climbing under and over roots. We tried bracing and grabbing at trees and brush to keep from catapulting down a ravine. All of us successfully traversed a river bed that meandered back and forth across our trail up and down the mountain with big, medium and slimy moss covered boulders and rocks. She was amazing! Just like my incredibly vigorous love, Dudley.
When we reached the end of the trail we followed the fruit groves, where we were enticed by the guides to check out the guava trees. They were demonstrating the act of devouring the delectible bounty and we had no trouble joining in on the...beautiful, colorful, tart quava! There were ripe ones everywhere that had fallen and I shared a few fresh, never been processed guava with Lisa. It was awesome and we ate the skin, they knew it to be very tender and pleasingly edible too. I've only had it sweetened to fill a pastry and it was much better this way... yummmmmy.
Exileratingly adventurous to say the least. The trail was magnificent, we got a great work out and we can say we climbed Obama Mountain. Thank you EAG! Thank you Cap, Chris, Nigel, and Kim, et.al.