Start of the Reef Bay Trail
The trailhead to Reef Bay Trail was off of Centerline Road (Rt 10), on just about the center of the island of St John. Just about all the previous destinations we had visited, had been accessed by North Shore Road (Rt 20) along the coast. This was our first foray down the middle of the island. The trailhead was not too far from the upper end of the Cinnamon Bay trail, which led directly to our campground... so ironically, we probably could have walked here from camp, in less time than it took us to drive all the way to Cruz Bay, cut through town, and pick up Centerline road to drive all the way back to the middle of the island! If you take the National Park's tour from Cruz Bay, I believe they drive you here to the trailhead, then they pick you up by boat for the return trip to the visitor's center.
We found a parking area pulloff across the street, and an older couple that had just come up off the trail offered to take our picture at the trailhead sign before we got going. These would be the LAST humans we would see, until we got to Reef Bay! There was NOBODY else on the trail at this time... I guess everybody else takes the Park Tour in the early morning! By now, it was after 12pm, and the trail was deserted! We headed down on our way, to see what adventures awaited us...
The trail started by going down some steps, directly from the road, and we were met by a large sign, telling us what to expect and what dangers we might face. The beginning part was rather winding and rocky, with bits of a steep decline followed by paths of level ground.
Tyler spotted these big centipedes on one tree!
It wasn't too bad, but I could see why someone who was out of shape might have a little difficulty hiking back out, as the steepest inclines would be at the END of the hike, on the way up. There were periodic interpretive signs from time to time, usually to identify a particular kind of tree or bush. We hadn't gone very far, when Tyler discovered some large black centipedes on the side of a tree, much bigger than anything we have like that at home! And of course, the ever-present small lizards would occasionally scoot across our path. Sometimes we could hear larger animals crashing around in the underbrush, and we would catch a glimpse of the occasional deer.
Somewhere, around a third of the way down, we came across some old ruins.
tree growing right out of an old foundation
.. actually, just the foundations of some old buildings that have been pretty much reclaimed by the jungle. In some parts, sections of wall were still standing, made of brick and old-time cement. You could clearly see pieces of shells and coral bits mixed in with the concrete, that has been there well over a hundred years! Trees, plants, flowers and bushes had taken root in the cracks and were growing directly out of the walls and foundations that remained. a little farther down we saw a smaller, almost square foundation that was right next to the trail and pretty much devoid of plant life. Signs stated that these were all that was left of some of the sugar mill workers homes, some of which turned to farming and cattle raising here after the mills closed down.
time for lunch!
The last farms here were abandoned somewhere around the turn of the last century, and the jungle just took over!
Since the foundation on the trail was pretty clean and in a sunny clearing, we decided it was a good place to stop and have lunch. We pulled out our cans of Chef-Boy-R-Dee Ravioli, and sat down to eat! ( Not the healthiest choice, I know.. but they were light, portable, and we could eat them right out of the can!) When we finished, we flattened our cans and packed them in a plastic zip-lock bag, for easy carry-out. We practice leave-no-trace camping and hiking, whenever possible! I was pleased to see that the whole trail was pretty much devoid of any kind of trash. We snapped a few pictures, put our packs back on, and headed back down the path!
We continued on down the trail, and after a time we came to a sign indicating a side trail to some petroglyphs.
Rock wall on the trail to the petroglyphs
There was a nice long, tall, rock wall on the left side of the path, which was probably some sort of boundary line for some long ago farm. We saw a lot of little birds in this area, but they were walking, not flying. Not sure what they were, but they were about the size of pigeons, and very colorful. All of a sudden, we heard a horrible squawking noise coming from the bushes to our right! We looked and saw that a mongoose had pounced on one of these birds, probably after stalking him through the brush. The mongoose made quick work of the hapless bird, and soon had himself a nice lunch as well. I felt bad, because the mongoose probably saw his chance and jumped him, while the bird was most likely keeping a close eye on us
as we walked the trail! The mongoose saw his opportunity, and took it.
This one looks like "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial! hehe
.and the poor bird paid with it's life. Oh, well...such is the way of nature!
A little further down the path, we arrived at a dark, spring fed pool, surrounded by rock. During rainy season, there is a small waterfall here, as well... but not today! Carved into the rock, fairly close to the water level, were numerous petroglyphs. The light at that point was in just the right spot to cast shadows that made them clearly visible... I bet in the morning, with the sunlight directly on them, they might be a little harder to see. There were hearts, circles, faces, and figures. One of them looked like one of the ghosts from the "Pac-Man" arcade video game, another looked like the logo from "Scrubbing Bubbles" bathroom cleaner.
Look! A Honda symbol! ( I sell Hondas... Haha!)
Yet another one kind of looked like "E.T., the extra-terrestrial" from the popular Stephen Spielberg movie. One of the symbols even looked exactly like a "Honda" logo... I thought this was funny and interesting, since I work for Honda! ....especially since these carvings are thought to be around 3000 years old! We hung around for awhile, took a bunch of pictures, then headed back. The Petroglyph pool was about a half-mile walk on level ground off of the main Reef Bay trail. We thought it was well worth the short detour too see them!
Once we were back on the main trail, we were about two-thirds of the way there, having come about a mile and a half, not counting the 1/2 mile petroglyph side trail.
Land crab holes... we saw a LOT of them as we got close to the water!
The rest of the way from here was pretty level. As we got closer to the bay, we started to see a lot of flat, sandy areas on either side of the path... these sandy patches had dozens upon dozens of baseball sized holes, which had to be lairs for land crabs. We had seen a few holes like this near our camp at Cinnamon Bay, and seen the crabs walking around after dark... but here there were hundreds
of little holes. This must be a creepy place to be after dark.. when all the crabs come out at night, there must be a huge army of them! It wasn't too far after that, that we could see the tops of some old buildings. This must be the Reef Bay Sugar Mill, at last!