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Thread: Mount Obama, 4/17/17

  1. #1
    Senior Member iAmKrzys's Avatar
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    Mount Obama, 4/17/17

    This trip report is partially meant to challenge those who have been bagging peaks named in honor of U.S. Presidents. If you are one of those folks and you thought that you were done, you may need to reconsider it!

    Mount Obama at 1319 ft is the highest peak in Antigua. It has gained its present name in 2009 after Barrack Obama was elected the 44th U.S. President.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Some pictures from the hike: https://goo.gl/photos/HsepExiBfUHVmwzv5

    Mount Obama links:
    http://www.peakbagger.com/peak.aspx?pid=8255
    http://www.summitpost.org/mount-obam...gy-peak/327589
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Obama
    http://www.antiguaoutdoors.com/mount-obama.html


    Trail:
    https://hiking.waymarkedtrails.org/#route?id=7167893


    We were visiting Antigua, and not being much of a beachgoing person I did some hiking & birdwatching research before the trip. I got a rough trail map from http://www.antiguaoutdoors.com/mount-obama.html but at the same time I noticed that the trail(s) on the north side of the mountain were not marked on OpenStreetMap.

    I set out with my two sons on a rainy day and we drove up Christian Valley (I'm not sure if the road has a name) until we reached a gate. I parked by the entrance and I spotted a truck about to leave through the gate, so I asked the man about Mount Obama trailhead. He was kind enough to turn around and drive me to the monument and then up the road a bit until it went into the woods. I asked him about venomous snakes (I already read earlier that they were all killed by mongooses brought by British settlers) and the man confirmed this. He also said that there were no ticks. I didn't ask about venomous spiders or poisonous plants but we did see a Manchineel tree https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manchineel on a beach later during our stay.

    Knowing the trailhead location I went back to the car, got my sons and we set off for our hike. The path to the top goes through the woods with little views until it joins a road that leads to Mount Obama from the south. It raises fairly steadily and it is easy to follow. It comes close to a steep drop at one point (maybe 100 feet down) but otherwise it is just a typical hiking path through the woods.

    Since there are cell phone towers at the top of the mountain, it is surrounded by a fence with a sign that says "No Admittance to Unauthorized Personnel." Not being a native English speaker I am actually wondering a bit about this - to me "personnel" typically refers to people who work at a place, which certainly did not mean us, so maybe it was ok for us to enter there? Well, I'm not a fence jumper and the gate was locked, so we only walked around the fence until we got close to a rock that seemed to be the top of the mountain.

    We got a little bit of SW view towards the ocean and then also a bit of a view towards another ridge but that's about it. If you get to visit the island the views from Shirley Heights are much more expansive and if it happens to be during Antigua Sail Week you will have a chance to see a lot of beatiful yachts in the English Harbor.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    While on a trail to Mount Obama you are most likely to see different plants and hear some birds. One of the most prevalent birds is bananaquit (see picture above) that can easily be heard almost everywhere in the woods but it is hard to see as it seems to prefer densely leafed trees. Besides the birds we also saw some lizards, spiders and insects. Also the trail seemed thoroughly covered by snails (I think they are invasive there), so it was almost impossible no to crunch them every once in a while. Vegetation-wise it was a leafy forest with some tall bamboo clusters and thorn-covered tree trunks like I have never seen before.

    We did not see much rock except when crossing stream beds and I think these rocks were of volcanic origin. The stream beds were pretty interesting of themselves as there are no rivers in Antigua. This means that they must have been carved by fast-running runoff water which in my mind must translate into pretty violent rainstorms.

    Towards the end of the hike I also explored a side trail a bit and returned to it another day. This turned out to be an alternate longer approach that eventually joined Mount Obama Trail, but it was a bit hard to follow as we had to traverse some open areas covered with very tall citronella grass and in these places we were just guessing where the trail might continue.

    As is my custom, after the hike I updated OpenStreetMap reflecting Mount Obama Trail. Btw, the trail is marked with plastic ribbons of various colors, and at least for now it is not blazed with paint.

  2. #2
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    You did a lot more research than I did 19 years ago, when it was called Boggy Peak. Staying at a resort in the southwest of the island, I thought: Hey, I can rent a bike and go all the way to the summit. I don't know how vehicles make it up that access road! Half way up, I ditched the bike and started hiking. Very limited views, but bagged a high point.
    Good to see the trails now on openstreetmap.
    Last edited by RichS; 04-29-2017 at 07:16 PM. Reason: hiked in 1998
    58.96% When in doubt, go up.

  3. #3
    Senior Member iAmKrzys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RichS View Post
    You did a lot more research than I did 19 years ago, when it was called Boggy Peak. Staying at a resort in the southwest of the island, I thought: Hey, I can rent a bike and go all the way to the summit. I don't know how vehicles make it up that access road! Half way up, I ditched the bike and started hiking. Very limited views, but bagged a high point.
    Good to see the trails now on openstreetmap.
    I also found Mount Obama Road fairly steep - in fact when it was wet from the rain it was pretty slippery and I didn't have enough traction, so I walked on the edge of the road. Since you already bagged this peak you have advantage in completing Presidential List, and if you also did Mt. McKinley then you are really ahead of the pack!

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