Hiking Montserrat’s Trails Trending with Young People Post-COVID-19 Lockdown
Good things have been known to come out of very bad experiences and we are loving this good thing happening right here on the rock.
After being inside for weeks on end, more Montserratians are discovering the great outdoors and exploring the island in ways that we usually only see visitors do. Most exciting is that the young people are hiking and they are making sure to share their adventures on social media. We asked a few of them to share what they love most about it and tips for having a great experience on the trails.
Dr. Tiffannie Skerritt got in a few hikes before returning to her internship in Jamaica. “I was interested in seeing areas of the Centre Hills. It is not something I got to do frequently while I was living there. And funny enough I never went on those heritage hikes during St. Patrick’s Festival.
“I love getting to see the flora and fauna but also finally getting to see areas that became uninhabited because of the volcano. Remember I was born in 1995 so I have no recollection of those abandoned areas. It was really my first glance at what these places look like. There is the added advantage of it being a physical activity (which I love) and an opportunity to enjoy good company.”
15-year-old Waynette Fenton said she began hiking because one of her friends told her they go hiking every Saturday and she was interested. “I’m continuing because I enjoy going very much.
“My first and favourite trail is Flemmings down through Sappit River. It was one that I had never done before and it was my favourite because there were a lot of slopes that we slid down.
“I wasn’t as unfamiliar with second hike I did as some parts I had walked on a previous hike but the main point of interest was very beautiful.
“On the last one we did which was Hell’s Gate was also very pretty and it took plenty of climbing to get to it but it was worth it,” Fenton said.
Waynette’s friend and classmate Shania Morrison said her two favourite hikes so far have been Flemmings down through Sappit River and St. Johns Pond to Hell’s Gate.
“The hike’s are a great experience. On most of the trails you see a lot of Montserrat’s culture, like the national bird and the national flower. Most of the hikes are tiring but the sights that I get to experience is worth the walk.
“Having fun is pretty easy outdoors especially around friends. On the first hike, I was scared of falling and stuff but the more hikes I go on the more I let loose and enjoy the company around me.
“The tour guide always makes sure everyone is safe by spraying the Jack Spaniards so we don’t get stung. Also he makes sure everyone walks at their own pace instead of trying to keep up with the most fit. A First Aid kit is always there in case anyone gets injured.”
Morrison said she began hiking because the first one she participated in which took her through Miss Pink’s River in Dick Hill was beautiful and inspired her to continue. “I realize I gain a lot more endurance with every hike. It’s a great way to spend a Saturday morning and it allows me to get off of social media and appreciate what’s around me.”
TIPS FOR HIKING THE TRAILS
Dr. Skerritt’s top five tips are:
1. It is best to go with a forest ranger or trained guide. Less likely to get lost and they tend to have a better idea of the landscape. Plus they know the history associated with areas and have vast knowledge on the flora and fauna of the area.
2. Go with a group of friends. The hike is much more than a hike it is an opportunity to form long lasting memories. It is also better to be lost in a group the lost alone. If you can’t start a fire someone else probably can.
3. Check with the guide or the organizer what you should bring to ensure maximum comfort and experience. This would include a snacks, hydration, extra socks or double layers depending on the time of day and altitude of peak.
4. If you have any illnesses or problems with joint pain, bring all medications or supports that would aid in a comfortable experience. Knee braces, ankle straps etc.
5. Ensure you bring a fully charged phone or camera to capture all the sights and sounds. A power bank is a plus. Take lots of selfie’s and pictures even if you think you may do the same hike sometime in the future.
6. “I personally think walking with your earphones and phone with music would help you enjoy it and also going with close friends makes the experience more fun. Walk with a snack and make sure you have enough water to last the whole hike,” says Fenton.