Monday, January 19, 2009
CLIMBING ST. LUCIA'S TALLEST MOUNTAIN
Over the Christmas "break" a group of us went up to climb Mt. Gimie. Mt. Gimie is the tallest mountain on St. Lucia at 3,117 ft from the base to the top. We hiked from the beginning of the trailhead in Soufriere. It took us two hours to get from the trailhead to the base near the river and another two hours to get from the base to the top. This is no walk in the park type of trail once you reach the base, however. Mt. Gimie is steep. You are climbing up the mountain for the entirety of the last two hours. So when someone asked me what I did for the weekend, I said with pride, "I climbed another mountain!". Figuratively and physically!
The hike to the base was fairly easy and had nice scenery. A few of us got lost along the way for about 15 minutes. The three guys in front of me decided to sprint up the mountain trail so we accidently missed the subtle pathway and headed towards another direction. Oops. We eventually found our way back to the trail and moved along the way. On the way up, after we passed the base at the river, we saw numerous openings of an amazing view. It is much darker in the rainforest trails, so when you reach an opening it feels like you are looking out at heaven. I could hear "ahhhhhhhhhh" everytime we reached one! Though, I think one of the times was one of my hiking pals singing it outloud.
Along the way a couple of us saw a few local birds and a tarantula. I still think that the tarantula was trying to climb the mountain because the poor little bugger was almost to the top! Benton, a hiking buddy who lives in Trinidad right now, almost stepped on it! Once we reached the top, most of us had barely missed the view. It was cloudy that day so we did not get to see much; but it was still worth it. Just as the third group of us were getting to the top of the mountain, we were all starting to head down again. It gets dark in the rainforest early in the day, so we had to make good timing!
The way down felt like it took forever. It had started raining the minute that we had started down the mountain, so we were in for a challenge. We ended up splitting up into three groups as we were going down. The first two groups made it back down to the base and back to the trail head by around 8 pm. It took us about 4 and a half hours to climb down. The third group, however, took 8 and a half hours to get down!!!!! We were waiting for them to come back for 4 hours in the van!!! We actually debated sending in a search party for them.
During the course of "the wait" we had people talking in their sleep, shared stories of past Mt. Gimie "hikers", learned a few things about each other, and listened to Wayne's collection of 80's music. We reached back home around 3:00 am in the morning after what had almost been a 24 hour day!