• close family • small boat • big world •

Hiking Saba: Mount Scenery

July 14, 2015

by Paula
At anchor, Union Island, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

This staircase is not to code. Back when we were in Saba, we hiked a trail that leads to the top of Mount Scenery, the 2,877' peak that dominates the island. The trail is a series of steps - 1064 to be exact - that lead from the trail-head in Windwardside to the apex. Many steps were hand-cut into the stone: some long and low, some deep and wide, some tall and narrow.  Others were painstakingly created by piling rocks into place. The Sabans are some pretty determined people. (See The Road that Couldn't Be Built).

An easy start with long,
low steps.

The hike stared out easy, with long, low steps winding through the dense and lush vegetation. The path became very steep, and things changed rapidly as we gained elevation. It wound around massive trees, frequently passed along the edges of cliffs, and took many switch-backs.  Often I looked ahead to see Nicole at high above my head, but only a little further along the route.  There was no relief, the steps kept going and going.  And these were not easy steps; some individual steps over a foot high.  This made for some intense thigh-burn as we made our way past giant ferns, bromeliads clinging to massive trees, and the philodendron giganteum that put my house-plant versions to shame.

The town below looks like tiny blocks and
the sea fades into the sky.

Intermittently the dense foliage gave way to a view of the surrounding peaks - dramatically steep, with an occasional peppering of tiny houses.  Past the land was an expanse of hazy blue that made it difficult to tell just where the sea ended and the sky began.

The path split, with one fork leading to a radio tower nearby the small expanse of level ground at the top. We arrived to find a family of four enjoying the view. It turns out they are from our hometown and were good friends with close neighbors. We have found that such small-world occurrences are more common that one would expect. 

The second fork lead through a dark, muddy, seldom-traveled path to the true summit.  Here, the peak was a tiny depression, just large enough for the four of us, surrounded by a low natural wall of earth and dense shrubs. Around
the outside of the shrub wall was a sheer drop in all directions except that from which we came. At times we were literally in the clouds and could see only a few feet away. At other times the view was spectacular, and we could see for dozens of miles.

Though exhausting, this hike was one of the best we have had so far. Saba is a unique place and a beautiful place to hike. (See also The Smell of Brimstone for another Saba hike.)

These pictures try to show just how steep this path is, but they don't quite do it justice.

More miscellaneous pictures:

A lizard stops to let us take his picture.
Cash investigates and abandoned shack.

Nicole before she got a
second wind and sprinted
ahead of us to the top.
I can't believe the size of
the giant philodendron

The vegetation is so
dense and lush.
The radio tower disappears
into the clouds.