ArrivalBecause of the rainy season, I never got to see sun(or anything)at the peak. My only images are from a short distance below the peak, the ranger station (the last stop before the peak), and lower trails. However, I summited twice in the mist. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.
Monday: Fly into MoBay. Pay for a Tropical Tours transfer to Ocho Rios ($15US). Check into a small local hotel near the round-about. Walk over to the market area and secure taxi for next day.
Note: Make sure the guy is a registered taxi with a red plate and an id.
Tuesday: I meet the taxi driver at 5:00am. We agreed on $65US to get me to Section. He takes the costal road to Port Antonio and then turns right and climbs into the rain forest up the mountians. Right before Section, the road is washed out, and taxi driver doesn't (can’t) want to try crossing the bypass. So I cut him loose and begin walking from there. Up and down a hill for about 1 1/2 miles to a construction-looking place. A dirt road and sign "Starlite Chalet" is on the left. I hiked a tough 2 hours up--often stopping to catch my heart. There's only a small stream between the main road and the top of the mountain, so load up on water. From the top, you can see across the valley. There's a sign to the right for the village of Westphalia, but I decided to spend some time hiking to the left. I take a path for about 800meters, leading up through a farmer's field up through tangle-weed (as they call it). This was the beginning of Sir John's Peak. From here, you can look down at Westphalia and the Green Valley. I could not get to the ridge as the brush was too thick. From here, I was beat, so I set back down to Westphalia.
Arriving in the evening, started asking around for a place to sleep. Some men told me I could set up my hammock behind the school. I shared a Mountain House dinner with them. They were very nice, and I got one of them to escort me down the hill through the Green River Valley the next day, which would take me over the next mountain to the Blue Mountain trail. I watched the kids play soccer before going to bed.
Wednesday: The next morning, my guide came and we hiked down through Green River Valley (Had to cross the river 3 times. He pointed me in the direction of a 2-foot wide trail that would "kind of" take me over the mountain. He returned, and I set off again, straight up. This 2-hour trek wasted me and used up all my water. I zigzagged straight up with the sun on me. I eventually made it up to Penlyne (a steep hike). I bought a bag of ice and filled up with water. This last stretch to the Blue Mountain Trail is still steep, but somewhat- paved. I took a left on the BM trail and hiked up to the Whitehouse. I rested here for a few hours and got some advice.
NOTE: You do not need a guide from here. The trail is marked and you can't lose it.
Hike Jacob's Ladder to Portland Gap (a second steep hike). You first see the clearing and the water spicket/shower pipe is off to the back right side. To the left is a ranger cabin, and behind it is a path that leads down to the cabin area. A short walk down and I spotted a place above to set up my hammock off trail for the next few nights. I took a shower from the cold pipe and walked around the ranger gap area before sundown.
SummittingThursday: Late start. Start hike up to peak at 2:00pm. Make it half way until clouds come over. Back down the trail to Gap for the day/night. Rains on and off for the evening.
Friday: Begin hike at 2:00am. Even in the damp darkness with only my headlight, I make it to the peak at 4:10AM. I see the tripod tower and decide to lay down in my emergency bivvy bag and await sunrise (I brought my day-pack with emergency bag and stuff). After about 30 minutes, I notice storm clouds and distant lightning coming toward peak from the east. Realizing I should not wait, I quickly hike down since I know no one else is coming up. I get down to the gap by 5:45ish. I was moving and was fortunate I didn't fall coming down. For the rest of the day, it rained.
Saturday: Begin hike up to peak at 2:30am. The trail is slipperier this time, but I make it to peak around 5:00am. There's nothing to see but cloud cover. No sun, but I enjoy the time being on the mountain alone for the third straight day/night. It is covered in fog and mist so there is nothing to take a picture of. I wait a while in a cloud mist before I hike down to the gap at about 6:00am. The weather clears up this day and I meet the first hikers since I arrived. The positive: had mountain to myself; the negative: to view to capture. The hikers are Jamiacans and sleep in the cabins. We chat and eat outside before I hop into my hammock. I sleep the last night at Gap.
The ReturnSunday: Hike down to Whitefiled Lodge for the day and night. I enjoy a warm shower and a spicy dinner. Wash my clothes as well. Sleep in a bed too.
Monday: I hike down to PenLyne Castle bus stop. Catch the 8am minibus down to Papine. This makes a few stops to pick up fat Jamaican women going to the city markets, so be patient. From here, take taxi to downtown Kingston bus stop. After an hour, catch a small, very crowded bus to Ochi. Make it to Ochi by 2:00pm. Check into my hotel. Spend the day walking around Ochi and get a great plate of curried goat with rice n peas. Go over to the big hotel and reconfirm my airport transfer. Sit at the round-about and enjoy the evening with a Red Stripe.
Tuesday: Hike over to the big tourist hotel and catch my transfer to Mo-Bay airport. Go home.
THIS IS A THREADED DISCUSSION I HAD FROM ANOTHER SITE CONCERNING THIS HIKE:
i am.... well not so much the hiking but the bus... from ochos rios to kingston to petersfield...i am volunteering with the blue mountain project next april and they will get you from and to the kingston airport. from there i need to get somehow to petersfield for my next project with amizade... any idea on that... taxi (costs??) or any other bus...heard of knutsford express, need to check it out if they go any where else too...
WingsLE: I don't know where Petersburg is. But the people at Hagley Gap Blue Mountain Project should be able to tell you how to get there. Frankly, that is how I made my way down from the mountains to Kingston to Ochi--I asked around and got directions. You should post a infor-request on this thread--they know more about the local areas. Sorry I couldn't help more. Just in case you were wondering: PenLyne bus to Papine cost 200J (160 for locals). My combi taxi from Papine to Downtown Kingston cost 250J. The bus from Kingston to Ochi cost 210J ($1US=$65J)
When you started at Section, you were pretty close to the Starlight Chalet. Did you have a chance to stop by? I just love it up there! What did you do for food and drink while sleeping under the canopy? Did you cart it in with you, or were you able to find some one to cook you a meal, or sell you some fruit?While camping, did many people wander by to see what you were doing? Did you experience any difficulty about trespassing or camping, etc, on private land?
Did you have any days with several hours of sunshine while up in the Blue Mountains?
BYOFT: The Starlight Chalet: Yes I passed it, but I did not stop. I was pretty far from the B.M. trail (from what I was told) I passed Clydsdale and Cinchurn Gardens, hiked up to Sir John's Peak and then back down to Westphalia for the first day. Shelter and Food: I have a military-type hammock that has netting and is covered by a rain-fly. If you want to see these types of canopies, go to HennesyHammock.com. For food, I brought 10 PowerBars and 5 bags of freeze-dried meals. The brand is Mountain House. They make a flameless heating bag, so you don't need a fire or matches to make a hot meal. This was more than enough for me. When I was at Whitfield Lodge, I paid for dinner--a nice meal for $6US. Water is plentiful once on the gap, and I have a purifier as a backup. My camelback can handle 3 liters at a time. Camping in my Hammock: The first night I hung up my canopy in back of the school at Westphalia. The people in this village were the ones who recommended that I do it. Yes, the children were very curious about me and my contraption, but I was so exhausted, I didn't care. In fact, I shared my hot meal with a few men who I chatted with before going to sleep.
Up at the Gap, I hung my canopy off the trail, about 30 feet above the shelter. from the trail, you couldn't see my hammock, so anyone who passed by would not have seen me. Camping is not allowed at Portland Gap, and they want you to rent the cabins, but sleeping in a hammock in the trees off the trail can't elicit a reason to pay. There were lodge rooms to rent at the Gap, but I had no intention of spending money for this. I placed a survival bag tucked inside a waterproof bivy bag in the hammock. With a few shirts and a hood, I did not have problems getting sleep. I carry a large pack and had about 60 pounds to start with. I hike like this and prefer to be as self-sustaining as possible. It's tough going, but with no schedule, I take my time and many rests. Sunshine in the Blue Mountains?: Not much at all in the rainy season. The time I was up there was pretty misty and rainy. The sun would pop out from time to time, but mountain mists continuously came through. That was the one disappointment--I never got the sunrise at the peak; yet, I know that at this time of the year that is very rare.
Thanks for such a thorough answer! Starlight is a very special place, but one thing it is NOT, is sunny. In the total time of 6 days or so I have spent up there, I've seen sunshine for about a total of 1 1/2 hours. This was split over two trips, one in June and one in November.
That hammock contraption sounds intriguing. If I were younger and less decrepit, I'd investigate buying one for myself. These days, however, I get the bulk of my exercise by simply climbing stairs around the house. (I also exercise my elbow a lot ! )
BYOFT: The feedback is my pleasure. Yes, you're right--there was very little sunshine while I was up there. Of course I knew this probability before I went, but as you know, the serenity, peacefulness, and the natural aromas (especially the pine scents) are well worth it. It was funny because whenever the sun came out, I would race to put my wet clothes out to try to dry them.....not successful. I didn't mention that there is a shower spicket at the Portland Gap that I used a few times. Totally cold water, though. Also, although Liz recommended it, I will have to say that a guide is not necessary to make the hike from Whitefield Lodge/WhiteHouse to the Peak. The trail is marked most of the way. It's a pretty basic path, even for the first timers.
Finally, I recall a Rasta-man who was building a lodge of his own right before Whitefield Lodge--super nice guy. This will be another place to use as a stop if one wishes.
Irie and Easy.