|BLUE MOUNTAIN CLUB|
3/4 May 2008
Bryan, Sherona, Kaideane, Shaniek, Tantanecia, Javon, Sheree, Shane, PJ, David W, Chad, Schmoi, Dravon, Everton, Jahosa, Paul
We were blessed with wonderful weather (after a previous week of rain), as you can see. But still it was ... C O L D in the night. More story to follow but we must big up our three chefs - Dravon, Javon and Jahosa, and their fire-making helpers, Chad and PJ. Whoever raised these young men need to share what seems to be a secret to so many...
My Peak Experience Story thanks to Shaniek...
“The race is not for the swift but for those who can endure to the end.”
“Mr. Ward lied!” Tantanecia exclaimed about 10 minutes in to our journey and Sherona declared that this would be her penultimate hike. We didn’t hike from Mavis Bank but the intensity of the hike hit us head on like a speeding truck. Jacob’s Ladder was not to be underestimated. They didn’t call it a ladder for no reason.
I dug my feet into it, taking each step carefully and slowly to maintain a pace I hoped would take me to the top without much tire. My legs started to ache and all I could do was look ahead enough to see where to make the next step and not to see how much further I had yet to go. I took occasional rests to view the mist hugging the sides of the mountains and peek at the scenery below through the fog and clouds.
The journey got a little easier after Jacobs Ladder (or so I thought) and after the long silence during our much focused hike, we began to chat while we munched on the yellow berries that we found along the way.
The path narrowed and got rocky when I found myself alone then there was a shout from Biggs and the twins so I knew I was not far away. Up here the air is fresh but thin. If you had asthma you could be faced with a problem of adjusting from the heavy air in the city. However, the smell of the greenery, the sound of the distant springs and bird callings, and the sound of your own breathing all seem to sweep you away into a trance that will be with you for a lifetime.
The path begins to get steep again and some of us are trying hard to keep up with sweat dripping down our chins and running down our spines. We pass pleasant hikers that had finished their journey and were headed back down to the comfort of their hot water baths, cable TV, and high speed internets.
Sherona, Chad, Kaideane and I stop to try and find a walking stick for Tantanecia (this was her first hike). This was a bonding moment and we got more acquainted with each other.
“ARE WE THERE YET?”
Jacob’s Ladder was not the hard part of the journey, what came after that is what nearly killed me and as we turned the corner and grabbed a glimpse of the sign that said YOU ARE ENTERING PORTLAND GAP a feeling of relief came over me like a mother seeing for the first time a baby she had been carrying for nine months. The first leg of our journey was over.
“HOME SWEET HOME?”
To our demise the cabins were nothing like we had expected. Some of us were left feeling uncomfortable and uncertain but we set up camp anyway, thinking “look at the bright side; we are in touch with nature.” Others of us thought it would be better to make shelter of our own out of tarpaulin, sticks and rope; which I must admit looked way more cosy than where we were sleeping inside.
The men went straight to work and started the fire. Chad, Javon, Jahosa and others gathered wood, chopped chippings, got the fire going and the pot boiling. The gathering for a warm meal of corned beef and rice set the mood for the rest of the evening that would involve us sitting in a circle cuddled around a bonfire.
“The night’s entertainment”
The mood was festive as Jahosa led us in song and stories. We had selections from Biggs led us in some retro souls, folk songs and Bob Marley. We sang out loud and off-key, the guitarist never played a correct chord but we didn’t care. The friendships that were being made and strengthened far outweighed whether we sounded good or not. A couple ghost stories and jokes topped the night off as the cold crept in on us and we went one by one to bed.
“The Final Leg of the Journey”
At around 3:00 in the morning I was awakened by the shuffle of the campers getting ready for the second leg of the journey. Everyone was rested and ready to go with the exception of Sherona, Kaideane and Brian. We trekked along in Indian file with three flashlights and our cellular phones as backup lighting.
It was cold and tiresome for some of us “the slow group,” and we stopped occasionally to view the city lights. We climbed higher and higher, far above Catherine’s Peak.
Until the moment I found out that the 1 ½ mile uphill journey that was left was not 1 ½, I did not believe Mr. Ward would lie to us. In the plight of my anguish I failed to recall that time went way slower up here and 1 ½ miles may seem like 5.
Up the steep rocky terrain, through narrow slippery paths, around sharp steep corners, through the overgrowth of ferns we marched until we finally came upon our destination. There were no shouts of joy, but a sense of accomplishment overwhelmed us all as our two hour uphill hike revealed to us the beautiful north and south coast of the island.
For those of us whose journey was the first, the scenery was absolutely breathtaking. It was an experience that not many Jamaicans will ever have the opportunity to receive. As quick as the warm feeling came over us so did the cold. My fingers were numb to the point where I couldn’t hold my pen, and after sharing some mangoes and apples for breakfast we didn’t hesitate to make our way downhill.
The trip downhill was far less painful and we skipped, hopped, jumped and even ran the distance back. The journey was worth every sprained toe, tense hamstring, muscle aches, scratches, sinus and near asthma attacks.
For all of you athletic persons or those seeking exercise, the Blue Mountain Peak trail offers the intensity of a stair climber in an exotic setting as the slope is never the same or ever in any one direction plus the obstacles in the way provide great opportunities to tone those thighs and tighten the gluts.
For those who are physically challenged there is a travel service offered by the locals for a cost by donkey.
For the aspiring writer or for those seeking writing inspiration, this hike will not only give you an exercise to keep your blood pumping and clear your head and lungs, but if it can inspire a non-writer like me to write a report as this, imagine what it can do for you.
Story from Shaniek (at front, wearing braids)