As part of my Natural Resources program at the UVI Cooperative Extension Service, I conduct hikes for schools where parents serve as chaperones. As we hike places like Sweet Bottom Bay, Spring Bay, Manning Bay, Fareham Bay, Jack Bay, Isaac Bay, Bodkin Mill, Caledonia Valley, Estate Thomas, French Billy Pond, Annaly Bay, the hikers are always amazed at the beauty of these natural treasures as if seeing them for the first time. It is from this experience that I recognized an interesting phenomenon - very little is known about St. Croix's natural history by the very people who live here.
Visitors who explore St. Croix are filled with wonder as they behold the cultural landscape of this island, but how many locals can talk about the island's breathtaking views, caves, waterfalls, virgin forest, flowing streams, wild fruits, wildlife, sea baths or tide pools, sacred places or holy grounds of the runaway slaves (Maroons)?
While a guest on the Mario Moorhead radio show, it was suggested that I conduct a hike for the public to the northwest corner of St. Croix. In July,1998, a group met me at the Paul E. Joseph Stadium in Frederiksted for what would become one of the greatest challenges of their lives! Some hikers rolled down hills, some got beaten up by the incoming ocean waves, and there were others who cried for help with laughter and pain. In the end, however, it was a turning point for all.
Karl Knight, and some of the other hikers, said, "Why not start a hiking club?" And so we did! Its now grown to 90 members including some from the US and St. Thomas.
Our annual, off-island hikes are much anticipated by members. We have hiked some of the highest peaks in the Caribbean including those on Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Puerto Rico, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and the BVIs. This year we're headed to Grenada!
The SCHA is well recognized in the region as the largest group of African Caribbean people who hike on foot in the Caribbean. We are a non-profit, 501(3) organization and a member of the American Hiking Society meeting the first Wednesday of every month at UVI Research and Extension Center. Every year we're proud to give two scholarships to high school students who will be attending UVI.
If you are a visitor looking to take a natural history hike or a local looking to join an organization that affords you fun-filled hiking experiences, we are here for you.
For more information visit our web site at www.stcroixhiking.org
See what we're doing for August and September in the Events Calendar.
Olasee Davis Ecology/ethnobotanist