La Citerne (Cistern)
|La Citerne's crater has a classic shape.
Time: 1 hour, round trip. Difficulty: 2-3. Trail not marked and simple to follow. Trailhead: Depart and arrive at Savane a Mulets.
La Citerne is an ancient volcano, perhaps merely dormant, whose crater, about 200 meters wide and around 50 meters deep, is occupied by the small Camille Flammarion Lake.
From Savane a Mulets, take the road leading to la Citerne, marked by the antenna of the television relay (which you may not see if the clouds are too low). After passing the impressive debris of Col de l'Echelle, the odor of sulphur is everywhere. Note the scattered fumeroles with yellowish surfaces, mainly sulphur crystals.
Soon after the first fumeroles, on the right you'll see others scattered on the denuded and whitish slope of Morne Mitan. The fleshless trunks and tree branches bear witness again to the damage done in 1976, the result of asphyxiating vapors.
After Morne Mitan, left of the road is the trail climbing the southern flank of l'Echelle, described elsewhere.
The Cistern Trail now takes a sharp right turn and arrives at the hill separating l'Echelle and la Citerne. Ignore the left trail: it's only about 1,000 meters long.
To this point you've been sheltered from the breeze. Now, the wind may feel as piercing as a harpoon, but you'll experience the true meaning of windward and leeward coasts.
Arriving at la Citerne, you'll find the classic-shaped crater is dense with vegetation. You can quickly circle the outer rim. Following the trail, you will reach a television relay, the first relay transmitter erected on Guadeloupe.
Near the relay is a trail to the left that's barely visible. It descends
by way of the Plateau de la Grande Chasse to rejoin the Etang de l'As
de Pique (Pond of the Ace of Spades). Not maintained, the trail is difficult
Looking south, Madeleine tops out at 971m at Piton l'Herminier, and to its right is Morne Gros Fougas with its almost perfectly circular crater; at your feet, are the banana warehouses of Moscou. With good visibility, you can see Dominica.
On the summit of la Citerne, the vegetation is essentially mountain pineapple, upland lilies, mountain thyme, mosses and orchids. About 250 meters after the TV relay, a trail goes off to the left and leads to Galion Falls, the river whose upper valley you now overlook.
Now that you've circled la Citerne, rejoin the blazed trail for the 15 minute trip back to Savane a Mulets.