Help Wanted... The cache box is cracked. If any future cachers are able to bring a small replacement box to this location, I would be very grateful. If you live on St Maarten and can help with occasional mainenance, then I would love to hear from you.
This is the second of my Caribbean Island 'Mountain Climb' Caches. The cache is at the top of the mountain which overlooks the cruise ship port of St Maarten. The mountain is only just over 200m tall, and the cache is just a small one, but the special part is the journey and the spectacular views once you get there.
I did originally try to climb the mountain directly from the south side, but the steep slopes / rocky ground / thorny bushes make an approach from this side practically impossible. The best standard approach up the mountain is using the winding roads from the south-eastern side.
If you are going to walk there from the cruise ship, make no mistake - it is a hard 5 km (3 mile) walk, up steep roads and paths, with rocky uneven ground. The walk will take you at least 1 hour (each way). You can go most of the way by taxi or 4WD, or perhaps even a scooter, and then the journey would take no longer than 10 minutes. On my first attempt at climbing the mountain, I twice tried to leave the road, to find a path through the thickets and brush, but each time I was unable to make it more than a few metres because of very steep inclines or thorny bushes. Again, if you have very good hiking boots, thorn resistant clothes and a machete then you may find a route through where I was unsuccessful.
South-Eastern Approach - From the Cruise Ship Port :- You should head east from the cruise ship port, until you get to Goldfinch / Pigeon / Mountain Dove Roads where you can turn north up the steep roads. The eastern most point of the climb is St Maarten Prison, an unmistakable white & green building. From there on, a stony path leads west for the final 1 km of the route.
There are some really good panoramic viewpoints on the last section of the climb, the main one (a rocky outcrop) is at N18 01.137 W063 02.177. Be cautious with this climb, as it is steep, with unsteady rocks, and cacti all around. From there you should make your way towards the two radio towers. The geocache location is past both radio towers at the very top of the mountain. You should be very close to the geocache location if you are standing where you have a panoramic view of 'both' Philipsburg and the cruise ships.
Northern Approach - From Philipsburg - Impossible !! It used to be possible to approach the cache using the roads from the Philipsburg side. This is no longer possible due to overgrowth of the 'jungle'. Don't even try it.
PS: Whatever route you take, the top of the mountain is very uneven, with large unsteady rocks, nasty thorny cacti, and a small but deadly cliff. It is absolutely not suitable for young children. You should wear strong hiking boots, as the thorns will easily go through your sneakers. Take at least 1 litre of water per person as the hot sun will dehydrate you quickly. Finally, if you can take a machete, then all the better.
Please re-hide the cache carefully *out of sight*... Non-geocachers do occasionally come to this place, and the cache has been lost before when muggles found it. Note: Due to the previously noted problems with muggling, there is now a 'primary' cache and a 'backup' cache (see spoiler photos if needed). The primary cache has the best viewpoint. The backup is a little way back from the primary. The backup cache should only be used and logged if the primary cache disappears. Anyway, I hope you enjoy everything :-)