The trail led out right onto the beach
Now, at the end of the Reef Bay Trail, the little inlet there is actually called Genti Bay, which is just a small part of greater Reef Bay. The beach was not more than 50 yards from the back of the Sugar Mill, you just passed through a strand of trees and the water is right there. It was a beautiful, secluded beach, and the brush was so thick, you couldn't see the factory anymore, even though it was right there! Tyler immediately set about climbing on some jagged rocks to the right. It wasn't long before he discovered something that looked like a fossil, embedded in one of the rocks. There was also some large birds hanging around, including a couple of pelicans. I wanted to take a dip in the ocean, to cool off a bit after a long hike, so I dug my swimsuit out of my pack.
Since Ty was off climbing the rocks somewhere, and no one else was around, I just changed right there on the beach. No need to walk back to the outhouses behind the factory, or hide behind a tree... we hadn't seen a soul in over two hours! I then started walking the opposite direction of Tyler, along the sandy part of the beach. ...I'll leave the jagged rocks to the 16 year old! I had only walked maybe 100 feet down the beach... when I heard voices behind me! I turned and saw Tyler was talking to a couple wearing snorkling gear, that had just come out of the water!! I walked back, and we all introduced each other. The attractive woman shook my hand, with a grin on her face that clearly said "haha, I just saw you naked!" ooops! It never occurred to me to look for people in the WATER, before I changed! Oh, well! I guess thats "Murphy's Law" at work.
The girl who inadvertantly saw me naked!
.. I could have walked the entire 2 and a half mile trail stark naked, without being seen.... but take 20 seconds on the beach to change into my swimsuit, and someone is right there! Just my luck! hehe. Embarrassment aside, Tyler and I had a nice chat with them.... it turns out they live in a town in Maine, which is right near Tyler's Boy Scout Camp! He had actually been there many times. What a small world! They had actually snorkled over from nearby Lameshur Bay, which is why we didn't see them. After they left, I continued on down the beach, taking many photographs (naturally!) and waded out into the water a bit. Since I didn't have my flippers on, I was actually limited in how far out I could go.
Caught this Pelican in mid-dive
.. there was a lot of sharp rocks and coral, so I never made it out much past waist deep. Too much risk for my bare feet! The bay itself was pretty shallow, going out a long ways. I enjoyed watching the pelicans and other seabirds hunt for fish. They would catch something, fly up into the branches of a nearby tree to eat it, and then dive back in for more. Tyler and I explored around there for about an hour, then the setting sun told us we should start to head back, as we still had a long, uphill walk ahead of us.
It was getting close to around 5pm, when Tyler reminded me that we still had to do laundry tonight, since we were leaving the next day... and the laundromat was only open til 7pm! (Actually, they closed at 8pm, but they stopped taking new customers at 7pm, because it took about an hour to wash and dry a load) Now, we realized we had barely more than 2 hours to get to the laundromat, when it had taken 2 and a half hours to get down here! And, we had to hike back uphill! With that, we said goodbye to the beach and the sugar mill, and hurriedly started back up the trail! Walking at a brisk pace, we would not be stopping to eat, or visit the petroglyphs or ruins on the way back, so I felt we would still have enough time to make it.
Tyler, about to climb jagged rocks to the right....
.. but then we still had to drive to Cruz Bay
. Fortunately, the trail didn't get too steep uphill until we were almost to the end. We should have packed one extra water bottle each, as we ran out about 3/4 of the way up. Tyler had gone ahead of me, and arrived at the car a few minutes before I did... he had run ahead to organize his bags of laundry. As he was going through his bags, he unwrapped and took a closer look at the conch shell he had found the day before... and to our astonishment, a small crab fell out! It had been occupied, after all!! The crab was a little too small for the shell, and had hidden so far inside, that we never knew he was there.
.....and a nice sandy beach to the left
Unfortunately, his skill at hiding himself, wound up costing him his life! We both felt bad, that after we had saved so many trapped hermit crabs at the sugar mill, we had accidentally killed this one. This gave me a sickening thought.... I quickly unwrapped the double plastic bag that held the conch shell I had found at Diamond Reef the day before... sure enough, there were legs sticking out of it!! He had been wrapped in a plastic bag in the back of a hot car for a couple days, and he was still alive!! With no time to waste, (for the crab, or
the laundry), we hopped in the Jeep and sped off to Cruz Bay.