I love to go hiking, so I was thrilled when fellow Canadian boaters stopped by to invite us on an afternoon hike over to the east side of Long Island. Since a nasty front was approaching, this was a great opportunity to stretch our legs before we would be boat-bound for a few days. We took the dinghy to shore to start the adventure at the local dinghy dock, which has a path that leads to the main road. Along the way, our friends who have visited Long Island for many years and have a wealth of local knowledge, showed us what Poisonwood looks like so we could be sure to avoid it! Each branch has 5 pointy-shaped leaves that appear waxy and curl in the sunlight. The sap can cause serious skin irritations, much like poison oak.
After walking north along the main road for about 20 mins, we came to pole number 108 with a buoy hanging to mark the start of the “secret path.” Other hikers had also left a walking stick to borrow and then return on the way back.
As we trekked through the bushes, the trail was well-marked with interesting debris scavenged from the local beach, like this bright purple net and a large, green plastic heart.
Termite nests like this huge one about 24″ high, are found in many places on the island.
After a 15 minute hike through the bushes, we crested the last hill and the view was impressive.
Before the hike, Laurie & Francis had warned us that we would see tons of refuse washed ashore on the eastern beaches…and they weren’t kidding! With numerous hurricanes and the Oct 2015 wreck of El Faro near Long Island, the shoreline was completely littered with debris such as plastic bottles, containers of all sorts, flip flops, soles from shoes, ropes and nets, wood, clothing…the assortment was incredible. This year a lot more seaweed than usual has washed ashore which also added to the volume.
Once we got over our initial shock at the garbage, we started to enjoy the rest of the scenery and vibrant colours which surrounded us – bright green foliage along striking white cliffs lined by dark ironstone against incredible hues of blue water.
The hills along the beach were just begging to be climbed. Our friends thought if we kept walking north along the shoreline, we might reach a small house which they knew would have a lane out to the main road leading back south to where we had left the dinghy. It sounded like a great idea! Except we were following goat trails along the edge of the cliffs and really didn’t know if we could traverse the many inlets along the way.
I was happy to be wearing my solid sneakers instead of sandals as we walked over lots of sharp ironstone. At one point the rocks were bizarrely covered with bright-coloured shawls that had washed ashore, among other debris.
We forged on, and the afternoon got warmer. By now, we realized that the trip back the way we had come was going to be a very long haul. Several inlets lined the shore so we did a lot of climbing and some scrambling over rock, careful not to grab onto the goat poo that was everywhere.
Finally we saw the little house on the high ground past the next inlet and realized that our plan to find an alternate route to the main road, would work. John took a picture looking back at the route we had taken along the shore, pointing out where we had initially started.
As we neared the main road, a local lady stopped to say hi to our friends and said that Club Washington was a short distance away. Perfect place to stop for a cool refreshment! When we arrived, I headed off to the ladies room and wandered into the kitchen by accident where I met Eva, the cook who also bakes bread to sell at the local store. The counter tops were filled with dozens of loaves, fresh from the oven. She insisted I sample one with some cheese, so I returned to the table with a treat to share. Who knew that fresh bread & cheese went so well with cold beer? As we chatted with the bartender Robert, we learned that Eva was his mom and was 72. She’s been baking great bread since before he can remember. In addition to bar tending, Robert is also an expert pool table repairman and like many locals, a fisherman. He explained that the hurricanes this past season caused island fishermen to lose close to $2 million in lobster cages.
Before I left, Eva bagged a whole loaf for me to take home. One of my favourite treats is fresh bread with molasses (it’s an eastern Canada thing), so my mouth watered the whole way home as I thought about the delicious bread & molasses snack I would enjoy.
The walk home along the road was much easier than clambering over the rocky cliffs. John was smart to track our hike with an app, All Trails, and we were surprised to see we had travelled nearly 5 miles! The screenshot was oriented south to north, so we started at the green dot at the top of the screen (south) in Salt Pond, walked north along the road until the single black dot, then headed east into the bush trail to reach the beach, and the squiggly red line showing our route north along the shoreline. Club Washington is where the green & black dot are side-by-side located in McCanns.
Back at the boat, we hopped in for a quick swim to get cooled off from our long trek. Then I enjoyed my bread & molasses treat before dinner, not my usual sundowner for sure. We ended our fun afternoon with another Bahamian sunset, happy to get some great exercise before the storm arrives.