Imagine the scenery of not being able to see your hands before your face, a sharp intake of air still leaves you breathless, your tour guide shouts out in the dark for you to keep to your left as you and the others cling to the mountain walls in single file. Ten minutes before you start walking you were freezing and now your burning up to the point that you strip down to you thin shirt, no hat or jacket, this is just a few things that you will experience on the 7,402 feet Blue Mountain Peak Hike.
The options of getting to the peak is only one, to walk, and it may not seem so hard at all, until, you hit to Jacob’s ladder, up and up you go in the dark for one purpose, to get to the top of the highest point in Jamaica to be the first person on the island to gaze at the first morning sunset.
After starting your hike around midnight that night with the aim of getting to Portland Gap for just about a an hour or two sleep, which by far is very elusive, due to the high altitude REM sleep is never going to happen. Even with your body being tired from the hours of hike, sweat and a little frustration sleep is a mystery. Portland Gap is furnished with wooden bunk beds just enough for one, but you will want to squeeze in with your hiking partner just for some extra warmth, for your freezing (by Jamaican standards) hands and toes. The amenities their at Portland Gap take you back some 60 years, so brace yourself for outside bathrooms and wood fire. If you’re lucky on this trip you might find the Rasta Man that frequents the rest spot making a pot of something tasty.
Around 2 AM you wake up and start the trek to the peak and for inexperience hikers at this point you start to question your sanity, for the more experienced, you will have now been renewed with the zeal to see what lies ahead. It is still pitch black and under the glow of flash light, you can hear the stones and shrub crumbling under the feet, sharp intake of breath and a few small sips of water or Gatorade. The smart thing is to travel light, a bottle of water a Gatorade a few bars of granola and a change of socks.
When you get to the top, you’re relieved and concerned at the same time as to how will you make it back home. On a clear day, you can see Buff Bay and Port Antonio’s Navy Island to the North, and Kingston, Portmore and St Thomas’ coast to the south. You even might spot the shadowy form of Cuba, 90 miles to the north. You have breakfast of a small snack, take photos of the peak and then start the walk down in the bright light of the morning. It will surprise you to see the rich Flora and Fauna, the great spans and breath taking views as well as the very small track you venture up the night before.
Your muscles that hurt to take you up the hill is now relaxing as you use a different set to hike down. By this time you and the strangers on this trip are now family exchanging numbers and making plans to visit each other at Christmas. After 12 hours, food is gone, water is finish , camera is full and your phone has died and when you take a look around , you are back in Mavis Bank or whichever point you started, needing a shower, warm bed or just even a hug.