Saba’s second peak

Every morning on Saba, the skyline that greets me is the sea, the sky, and the ragged, looming peaks that frame my view from the Bottom. And every time I see those peaks, I ask myself how it might be to climb them and look at the island from on high.

Today was the day I finally climbed the slopes of Paris hill and it’s Whale Tale; it made for a memorable adventure. When Amanda visited me a few weeks ago, we tried the hike, but didn’t manage to find the right trail and ended up scrambling up through the jungle unguided. This time guidance was welcomed.

I set out with friends from my class, Neil and Cirous, around 10 am from behind the stairs of the medical facility. I chose to bring a bottle of water, my trusty knife, my paracord bracelet (which, thankfully, was not needed), sunglasses, and gloves. The gloves were the most useful of these items, and I had a keener grip when climbing.

After an initial upward trail that took about 15 minutes, we came to a field of gigantic boulders covered in lichen that gave the next portion of our venture a primordial feel. We grappled, leaped, shimmied, and bouldered up the various rock formations for a good hour before getting to the top.

Some easy bouldering

Some easy bouldering

There were a few telling moments in our climb where careful planning was required to overcome the arduous incline of the terraces of stone and the occasional treachery of the trail; on many instances, branches that were trusted gave way and alternate routes up were used.

The peak was glorious; a touch of gossamer clouds hung the sky was bright, and the was a gentle breeze that soothed as I glanced down on the red rooftops of the Bottom from my new vantage point. It is always a poignant moment when you look at something you’ve seen a thousand times in a different light.

As we made our descent, we were unable to find the same path that brought us up. We warily made our way through the brush and shrubbery, following the music of the Caribbean Carnival, to find ourselves across the street from our anatomy professor’s home.

Near the peak of Paris Hill

Near the peak of Paris Hill

From a technical point of view: the combination of boulders and generous grip availability made this hike extremely enjoyable. Easily the best hike I’ve done on Saba – very little danger for an amateur climber. I will note that some of the flora on that hike is very unforgiving – all three of us suffered minor cuts and scrapes from the green plants that somehow grow in rock.