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Happy New Year!! 2012 brought us many great times and experiences but I’d have to say the most memorable experience took place on the very last day.

Dominating the western coast on the island of St. Lucia are two volcanic mountains called the Petit Piton and the Gros Piton. We decided to take on the challenge of hiking the Gros Piton, because, what better way to end the year than a hike to the top of  a mountain that stands 2,619 feet above sea level. Even Oprah’s ‘O Magazine’ says, that of the five must do things in your lifetime, climbing the Pitons in number one.

When we booked the excursion we were told right away that it was an extremely challenging 2 hour hike to the top and an intense 2 hour hike back down. We looked at each other and said ‘Not a problem, let’s book it.’

We were picked up at our resort at 6:30am and endured a windy and twisty, 2 hour bus ride. Along the way we stopped for a quick view of the Pitons to have a look at what we were getting ourself into.
The Pitons

We finally arrive at our destination and our guides gave us a quick overview of what to expect and we’re off.
The Gros Piton Nature Trail

The trail starts off relatively easy but very quickly becomes strenuous.
The Gros Piton Nature Trail

At the 1/4 point we are treated to a view of a secluded bay and the Village of Anse L’lvrogne and on a clear day you can see the island of St. Vincent, 21 miles away.
Secluded bay and the Village of Anse L'lvrogne

The trail is getting steeper and harder to hike with every step as we make our way to the 1/2 way point.
The Gros Piton Nature Trail

The Gros Piton Nature Trail

The Gros Piton Nature Trail

At the 1/2 way point we get a beautiful view of the northern part of the island and a look at the Petit Piton.
The Petit Piton

The second half of the climb definitely has you huffing and puffing as it gets even more strenuous. By now we are climbing over ‘steps’ dug out of the mountainside that are about 24 inches in height. More than once I heard Judy say, ‘What I wouldn’t give for my legs to be just bit longer right now.’
Gros Piton Nature Trail

Gros Piton Nature Trail

At the 3/4 point we reach a 300 year old mango tree that has been nicknamed the ‘Tree of No Return’, because why turn back now, you’re already so close to the top.
Tree of No Return

From here, the hike is at it’s steepest and our legs are screaming but we push on, ‘you’re almost there,’ say people we pass on they way down.
Gros Piton Nature Trail

Finally we make it!! We are congratulated with a high fived for a job well done. Judy looks at her stop watch and we’re pleased to see that we made it in 1 hour and 31 minutes.

From here the view is stunning and makes the strenuous climb worth every step. We see  a view of the beautiful waters of the Caribbean, a large portion of the island and it feels like we can reach up and touch the clouds.
View from the summit of the Gros Piton
View from the summit of the Gros PitonDog at the summit of The Gros PitonSomehow this little 4 legged guy has reached the top and loves to welcome weary hikers as they arrive.

We rest here for 30 minutes before we begin to make our descent. The thought of the hike down being much easier than the hike up quickly escapes our mind with the first few steps. Following our guide’s lead, we step where he does to avoid any slips and falls. At one point our group thought maybe our guide was part mountain goat the way he climbed both ways with ease. But when he took a slight slip on the way down we realized that he actually was human. When you climb that mountain twice a day five days a week, it has to seem easy!

A small group of us parted ways with the rest and made it to the bottom in 1 hour and 15 minutes. At this point we enjoyed a rest as we waited on the rest of our group. A lovely lady by the name of Quindy had a refreshment stand set up and we treated ourselves to a much deserved, refreshing bottle of beer.

Quindy’s twin boys were playing around as they were on Christmas break from school and let Judy take a few photos of them.
Ismaeh Twins St. Lucia

Ismaeh Twins St. Lucia

Ismaeh Twins St. Lucia

We are amateur hikers at best but definitely enjoy it, and the hike up the Gros Piton is an extremely challenging feat, but once you reach the top, not only do you experience breathtaking views that make it absolutely worthwhile but also the enormous sense of accomplishment that you made it.

What an absolutely amazing way to end the year!