Sun, Apr 9, 2017, 6:30 am: Hike to Estate Hermitage

General info for all hikes and walks: Hikes and walks are $5 for members, and $10 for non-members (become a member). Unless otherwise noted, the pace for hikes is moderate, lasting 3-5 hours, covering 3-5 miles, the terrain is hilly, footing is sometimes uneven, and we follow trails and possibly paved or dirt roads . Walks are easier and shorter than hikes, and usually follow paved or dirt roads, no trails. The guide may periodically stop and talk along the way. Bring sturdy, comfortable walking or hiking shoes, water, snack, bug spray, rain poncho, and camera. Shorts or long pants are OK. For day hikes, bring a hat and sun block. For night hikes, bring a small flashlight. There are usually about 20 people. We depart about 30 minutes after the posted start time. For some hikes, we will meet at the indicated location, then drive a short distance to the hike location.

Specific info for this hike: Meet 6:30am at the entrance to Carambola Golf Resort on Route 69 / River Rd. See the meeting spot on Google Maps.

This hike is on easy terrain, and not very long. Points of interest include a sugar mill and a pond. The hike starts from the grass parking area across from Carambola golf course or entrance to Estate Big Fountain. We will hike northeast into a pastureland environment. From here we hike east of Carambola across the main paved road onto Parasol hill and Estate Hermitage. These estates are located below Blue Mountain valley, the second highest peak on the island.

History of the hike area:

This fertile valley was once heavily forested with large tropical trees, some reaching a height of 90 ft with a dense canopy. The watershed of Blue Mt was the beginning of many streams that flowed through Estate River, Jealousy,Canaan, Mon Bijou, and Estate Colquehoun. These estates were developed during the colonial period of the Danish occupation of the island.

The forests were cleared to create a plantation system which included great houses, slave quarters, or row houses, sugar factory, animal mills later converted to wind mills, and later steam mills during the 1850's.

In the mid 1820's the island reached the peak of sugar production. By the early 1900, the island established central sugar factories to save the industry from collapsing. They were Estate Richmond, La Grange, and Estate Bethlehem. Estate Bethlehem remained the only central sugar factory on the island, but was phased out in 1966. The remaining ruins of Estate Hermitage and Parasol, are the result of the once prosperous sugar industry.

In the late 1800's to the early 1900's, the Senepol cattle breed was developed by local breeders. This breed has been exported to Africa, South, Central and North America.

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