Union Island, The Pinnacle

For a short, challenging, exciting, and rewarding hike you cannot beat climbing the Pinnacle in Union Island. It takes about three hours dock to dock. Most of it is an easy regular walk, but the final climb, when you get to the Pinnacle, is tough. It involves non-technical rock scrambling, avoiding prickly plants and negotiating very steep slippery terrain. For much of the time you are on, or close to, steep or precipitous slopes, so real care must be taken. You will spend time on your knees and your backside as you clamber your way up and down. At the very top you sit on a rock with a 360 degree straight down view. I recommend long trousers and long-sleeved shirt against prickers, sturdy shoes with a good grip, and a small cutlass (available in the local hardware store for about $20EC). There is one hard bit, which I find a little harder now I am older, so I left a rope on it, but in case it is gone, about 6 feet of half inch rope will make it easier; it is easy to reach up and tie it to a root. You can of course, tackle it without cutlass or rope, wearing a t-shirt, shorts and flip flops. I did so in my youth many times, but that was nuts. If at any time you feel this climb is too much for you, turn back. Afternoon is the best light for photography.

The closest dock is the Grenadines Dive one, but you can use any of them. From Grenadines Dive, walk to the main road and turn left. At the top of the hill there are two roads that branch off to the right, one a little further up than the other. You can take either (go by one, come back by the other). They join up again on the other side of the hill, where you will find yourself overlooking a small hill on which is perched a couple of big radio antennas. A road with some houses leads up to the antennas. Walk up this road and just before the antenna compound turn right onto the grass. You will go slightly downhill but more or less level and look for a cut in the trees to take you to a lower field. If you head up instead you will come to a concrete block wall foundation, if this happens head back downhill and look for the gap in the trees. When you find this, a discernable path that leads you down to the water hole (sometimes dry) close to the Pinnacle.

As you go, take a good look at the pinnacle, at its northern end is a rock formation which looks a bit like a giant iguana climbing up onto the final slope. This rock comes much of the way down the pinnacle, and the path, such as it is, closely follows the southern (left hand) edge of this rock.

When you find the watering hole, often dry, head round the left side. A poorly marked and maintained path leads through the bush to the base of the pinnacle. If you don’t find it, find the best way you can up the hill through the prickles till you arrive under the big rock that higher up forms the giant igauna. You want to end up right under that iguana rock. The path becomes more apparent when you reach the foot of the rock and, from here, it harder to lose your way. The path is very small, tough in places, and a real scramble.

The cutlass is not for heavy work, but the route is seldom used and you may need to prune a few century plant spikes that have grown into the path. Watch out also for brazil (small holly-like leaf), this is poison and to be avoided (or cut out of the path).

You emerge on the bottom end of the ridge, under the southern end of the iguana rock. From here the path is straight up the ridge, often only a few feet wide, sometimes with big rocks to be navigated, and always a precipitous drop on both sides. I have had people with a fear of heights balk at this point; take it easy!

The cutlass will prove helpful again along the ridge for minor pruning of prickly things that have grown over the way; prickly pear cactus in particular, and on the ridge, a few devil nettles.

When you get near the top you scale the final summit by scrambling over some rocks. The summit itself is a big rock on which you can sit and gaze straight down in every direction, Union is laid out before you and beyond Union, all the Grenadines and on a clear day St. Vincent and Grenada. You look back at the way you have come and wonder how you managed to make it up the steep slope, and whether you will ever see home again. Fear not, it is actually seems a little easier going back down.