Has anyone visited this? I went there recently and was really struck by it. It’s one of the few virgin forests on St. Croix-never cut down in the colonial era for farming. You enter the gut at the base of the Western Scenic Road at the surface mining company up from the Ham Bay Beach in the northwest corner of the island.
At first, you hear mining equipment making a lot of noise, and you get somewhat covered with dust(!), but as you climb up the gut, the sound of the equipment disappears. Most of the gut is very dark with thick vegetation, including centuries-old towering trees with hanging vines. There are many enormous boulders that have fallen into the watercourse and dozens of small waterfalls and shallow pools you can wade through. I drank some of the water. It’s crystal clear. Many of the rock pools have a metallic blue-green sheen on the rock surface. Microorganisms? The water flows underground at certain points and makes gurgling noises.
There are many fragments of large rusted copper pots that I guess have rolled down from a nearby crumbling rum distillery. I was surprised to see dozens of young coconut trees. Maybe Rastafarians planted them so they can drink coconut water when they go hiking. There are also the remains of two house-like structures, one built of stone and mortar and the other with a poured concrete foundation(!) and walls made of hundreds of cinderblocks that were dragged up the gut by hand (or mule, horse?). Don’t ask me how people managed to build these structures in the jungle!
Two cautions if you go. A Rastafarian warned me about Jack Spaniard wasps. They hover above a few pools that remain stagnant, so use your eyes and ears. Also, there are centipedes resting on some of the rocks. Be careful where you put your hands when climbing! I thought the best scenery was a quarter to a half mile up (the whole gut is about a mile), so you can make this a pretty easy hike if you go only partway.
Also, the path behind the National Guard office up to the nearby Ham Bluff lighthouse was recently cleared. I climbed up even higher, to the top of Ham Peak, on some wild mountain goat trails. I was amazed to see a lone goat farm perched atop a remote sea cliff to the east. No electricity or running water-looks like time stopped there decades ago. I felt like meeting the farmer, but was afraid he would have a rifle and attack dogs! A large shed for the goats is leaning atop the cliff and it looks like during a heavy rainstorm, it could get washed down hundreds of feet and send the goats tumbling into the sea!
That's pretty awesome.. I might check it out before I leave. However, I can get very terrified by centipedes... Were there lots of them, or were they few and far between? How many did you see?
I didn’t see more than ten while I went up and back down (is that a lot?). It is easy enough just to walk and climb around them. They’re just sleeping. Come to think of it, they may actually have just been millipedes. They were black, not reddish-brown with wiry legs. I honestly don’t know.
Oh ok. Those must have been millipedes, then. Honestly, I feel uneasy around centipedes after I hear so much about their extremely painful bite.
wow, this place sounds really pretty. i'd like to check it out, but i'll be on STJ. 🙂