Circuit of La Soufriere
|Considerable evidence of the last eruption on many parts of the trail.|
The left path continues circling the volcano. About 100 meters beyond, after some hairpin turns, the trail joins a swampy plateau called the Great Savane, and a bit farther on you arrive at a second crossroads.
If you continue straight ahead to the north, you'll reach Matouba by the Carmichael Trail (the starting point for Hike 3). About 100 meters from the crossroad are the Collardeau Fumeroles; these 10 vents are periodically used for gas samples.
At the crossroads, bear right toward Ladder Hill. Vegetation is sparse, mostly gray or orange lichens and mountain pineapples that, from 800 meters to the summit, decorate La Soufriere with big, red-spiked flowers.
If you're fortunate to have clear weather, you'll see above, on the right, the Northeast Fault. Beyond the fault is Sanner Trail, a more strenuous path to reach the dome. Moving lower and to your left, the fumeroles of Carbet manifest themselves, through a strong odor of sulphur.
About 20 minutes after leaving the crossroads to the Matouba and Carmichael trails, you'll enter a craggy stone landscape. At the edge of this is yet another marked crossroads.
The left trail joins the Chutes de Carbet Trail. However, for the volcano circuit, stay right and follow the trail blazed in blue leading down to Ladder Hill.
This region was one of the places most affected by the 1976 eruption. It is here that on July 8th the most important explosion occurred, which reopened and reactivated the large southern fault crossing the entire flank of the volcano.
However, the view is beautiful over the Windward Coast, the Capesterre region and Grande-Terre; when visibility is good you can even see the island of Marie-Galante.
At Ladder Hill you'll pass an enormous rock fractured into 2 pieces. You can stand in the fracture and pose like Superman, splitting the boulder with super-strength.
On the left are the fumeroles of Ladder Hill: sulphurous vapors of 96-degrees C escape from a hole where you can spot a sizable deposit of sulphur crystals. Still to the left and a little higher is the geophysical shelter, severely damaged by the 1976 eruptions.
Leave Ladder Hill and descend across the debris. The trail, still marked with blue blazes, goes along the Matylis Ravine, which in 1976 was site of the main flows. While descending, you can observe to the right, on La Soufriere's southeast flank, the so-called "mouths of explosion," which hurled out the surrounding rocks now covered with a thick coating of lichens.
Zig-zag ahead for 10 more minutes to reach the Citerne volcano, which is used as a TV relay. Bear right and within 5 minutes you should be back at Savane a Mulets, your departure point.