52 REASONS (AND COUNTING) TO FALL IN LOVE WITH ANTIGUA ALL OVER AGAIN By Joanne C. Hillhouse
The 5AM Hike Club was started late 2009 by Oral Evanson and Connie Richmond. “We used to go walking in the afternoon and just decided to do something on a Saturday morning,” Evanson told Antigua Nice. There’s nothing, he said, like seeing Antigua first thing in the morning. And they’ve seen more of Antigua than most, discovering parts they didn’t know existed. “We’ve been to Rendezvous Beach several times from different angles,” he said. “We’ve done it from Falmouth; we’ve done it from Wallings; we’ve done it from Claremont; we’ve been to Pinching Bay; we’ve been to Seaforth, we’ve been to Hermitage; we’ve been to Soldier Point; we’ve been to Guana Island…a bunch of places.” Boggy Peak, Sugar Loaf, Cades Bay, Christian Valley…and still, much to their surprise, they’ve yet to run out of places.
“Right now, we’re planning a hike from the entrance of Wallings in John Hughes to Boggy Peak,” Evanson said. “It promises to just knock your breath out of your body…it is one of our more advanced hikes (and worth it) just for the view alone.”
The hike destinations are selected by committee; the only criteria, somewhere that will make them say “Wow!”
For Evanson, that place has so far been Rendezvous, which he described as “the most beautiful beach on earth.” Not, on Antigua; ON EARTH. He’s effusive, as well, about “going through Bendals from McNish…going through the Body Pond area when it was wet, when the roads (were) filled with water…the view from Sugarloaf.” We get the feeling he likes it all.
His enthusiasm is catching. And, he’s clearly on to something as the original group of 10 has peaked at 120 hikers and averages out about 70; and they’ve never missed a weekend. “What is very interesting is this is the first time a lot of them are going to the places we’ve been to,” he said, marveling that “people (come) to Antigua and pay good money to see these places” and yet some who’ve lived here all there lives are only now discovering it.
It’s the ultimate staycation experience, if you think about it, and if you can get up that early on a Saturday morning.
We had to ask, for the non-morning people, any hope of the 5AM club going on a 5PM hike? Apparently not; the sunrise is just too irresistible. Evanson recalled seeing it once en route to Indian Town from the Interpretation Centre, along the sloping hillside, and remarked, “to see the sun rise from that point is just breath taking.”
The hikes on average run three to four miles; pack some fruit and water, and wear comfortable shoes and clothing. There’s usually a doc or nurse in the group, as well security, and First Aid, and depending on the level of difficulty you can even bring the kids. There is no fee but sometimes they take a collection to raise funds which they donate to the Amazing Grace; a healthy pastime for a good cause. To get on the trail, call Oral Evanson at 727-0190 or Connie Richmond at 721-0145.