Scratchie\’s World

School Done!!! Other stuff in life to write about now….

Mohammed to the Mountain…

Well in a manner of speaking anyway. I decided in my old age to take that awe-inspiring trip to the Blue Mountain Peak. It was one of those moments when insanity won out over reason. I will state here and now that it was a once in a lifetime never to be repeated experience with emphasis on the never to be repeated part.

This escapade started in mid July when a group of friends, 13 from my company and 12 from a co-workers group, decided to take the trip. Our guide decided to do the short walk instead of the long one citing “not wanting to leave a lasting negative experience on persons”. People… distance is relative when talking to country dwellers. Statements like “just down the road” and “just around the corner” bear no reflection of the true picture. In the same way I can only conclude that our guide grew up in some other part of Jamaica than the city, because in this case short is relative. Hint hint 5 hours of uphill and 3 hours of downhill is not short.   

We decided to drive to Mavis Bank which is about 1/2 an hour from Papine.  We parked the cars at the police post there since the second part of the journey was to be by Land Rover to our start point. The roads were too steep and rocky for cars so Land Rovers are the vehicle of choice on the trip from Mavis Bank to Whitfield Hall. BTW, I use the word “roads” loosely…very loosely. These are basically dirt and marl tracks cut into the hillside.

The trip to Whitfield Hall was about 2 hours of straight uphill driving in the back of a pick up truck with rails and no suspension. The drivers knew the roads though and there was no fear about visiting the bottom of nearby ravines. We arrived at the cottage at about 10:30 p.m. yes at night since we would start out in the morning. We settled in until about 1:00 a.m. when we were awaken to begin our briefing and our walk commenced at about 1:30 a.m. I did say morning.  Flashlights lit the way for the trip, the first part of the trip called Jacob’s Ladder. This took about 1 1/2 hours to a place called Portland Gap. We stopped for a bit to catch our breath and get some sugar and salt back into our bodies. I have never before sweat so much in cold weather. Every corner meant a drop in temperature. The path is well marked and there are signs everywhere warning persons to stay on the trail.

The journey to the Peak was another story I will sumarize for sake of time. It was uphill, damn hard and pure rock stone. Every corner left your joints screaming for murder and demanding that we turn back. Signs showing how far to the summit are false. Either that or it’s the longest 500m and 1 1/2 km I have ever seen. I have never heard so much swearing in one place. dwl. We arrived at the Peak some time after 5:00 a.m. but we were unable to see the sunrise as cloud cover was heavy. The Peak provides a spectacular view of surounding regions but IT DAMN COLD!!! A few photos and some chit chat and the trip back began.

The journey back to Portland Gap was weird since we were now able to see exactly where we had been walking earlier in the pitch black night. I can only say that we were indeed lucky that all of us are part mountain goat (or so it would seem). If we had been this way in the daylight many of us would have stopped at the ranger station at Portland Gap and called it a day. At some places the path is no wider that 3 or 4 feet.  Broken away hillside was evident. The walk down was much more gruelling since we are not only fighting fatigue but also the forces of gravity and the pain it was inflicting on those of us with bad knees and backs and hips.

Arrival back at Whitfield Hall was fantastic as not only was this self inflicted torture ended but we had the foresight to arrange for a fabulous Jamaican style breakfast of ackee and saltfish and breadfruit and callaloo and dumplings and plantain and you name it and we had it.

The trip back to Mavis Bank was a reverse of the way up. Rocky roads, nuff corners, dust and all in an open back Land Rover. The only factor was that the moon was now replaced by the sun. Nobody told us that Mavis Bank was about a million miles closer to the sun because the temperatures soared to intolerable levels. 

All in all it was a good trip. I am grateful for the experience but don’t think I will ever try that again. I had no after effects I suppose because of my fitness level (thank you badminton training).

Thanks to my fellow hikers for a great trip so Mohammed…err …Scratchie went to the mountain since the mountain wouldn’t come to me.

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August 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 8 Comments