The much anticipated exclamation of breakfast sets in motion the scrabble and dash to engulf as much food as possible before the three T’s; teeth, toilet, and tugging on of boots.
8 o’clock chimes, equipment is divided and we’re off!
Yawning and stumbling, breakfast still desperately trying to digest itself, our path arrives at hurdle number one. The last vestiges of sleep are rapidly dispelled as various muscles are begged, cajoled and failing that; forced into motion.
Emerging from the shadowed incline, the peak reached, a pause to slurp; however without a slim slither of shade to be had, onwards we swiftly press, if only to escape the suns relentless gaze. The second hurdle rapidly approaching, though gentler in nature than the previous, a pause over her crest is had. Not from necessity but from the vain hope held in hearts of volunteers, eager to spot sharks or sight sting rays from afar.
The salty tang of the mangroves precedes the boardwalk that stretches their length. Leaving the tourist strewn paths behind us we venture forth into the sandy depths of the mangroves. Dodging crab holes, protruding roots and webs that stretch across our paths, whose only telltale signs are the vividly coloured, disproportionately large female palm spiders. Her husband lurks at the edges of her web for those keen of sight.
We stride the entrance of our trail, our sure steps halted by the first stream blocking our path. Commence the balancing act of the century, up over the tree roots crossing its breadth, swing under the fallen tree, two teetering steps on the edge, mud forming treacherous terrain for the soft soled amongst the group. Overflowing coco plum equally aiding and disabling, providing sturdy handholds and low hanging trip hazards.
A brief respite gained before the second larger and deeper stream is upon us. The increasing threat of wet feet looming, valiantly we press forward engaging in what can only be described as a child’s game of hopscotch. First foot to board, both feet to brick, two hops along the rocks, jump to branch, damp wood impersonating a sheet of ice’s slipperiness – sharp intake of breath, a pause to regain balance, a wobble here and a wobble there. One final leap of faith and we’re clear!
Resigned our feet follow the path in a steep skywards direction, with no sounds to accompany except the chorus of gasping lungs and the silent screams of dying fat cells emitted from our legs, after our leader we struggle on. Up and up we go.
If we had breath to spare the view would have stolen it. Over the top and round the bend had the feeling of homecoming to it, however as our feet gladly turn downwards, we realise we were mistaken. The descent proving itself to be as challenging as the ascent!
Settling into the knee-jarring rhythm, the trail beguiling our hikers into a false sense of security as rocks, previously stable for years prior, decide they want to enlist on the Jamaican bobsled team and must also practice by rolling as fast as possible down the hill.
Knees-a-quiver the bottom is reached! Our journey with end in sight must first navigate the forest of ever bothersome coco plum. Tripping and stumbling on a ground that cannot be distinguished through the foliage. Branches, whose sole aim in life is to skewer an eye or ensnare unwitting volunteer’s backpacks, are a plenty. Hidden ever within their depths lie the feared hairy caterpillar ready to prey on unsuspecting victims.
Those who circumnavigated the perilous dangers previously encountered on the trail and survived with dry feet, further steams lurk hidden in the coco plum ready for the unwary amongst the group. A minimum distance of 4metres is required between each volunteer, or risk the whip of coco plum springing back to it prior position of inconvenience.
The ground levelling as the beach looms into sight. The collective sigh of relief reverberates through the group, short hop and a jump our feet land in deep sand.
The dry feeted issue the cry of success! Along the beach we advance, dodging the seas ever encroaching presence, arrival to a section our path is blocked by boulders aplenty, taking our chances and trying to judge the tide, we make a break for it.
In coming wave. No where to run.
Alas .. the shoes are wet once more.