HIKING LA SOUFRIERE

IMG_8734_2My first set of blocks for the new semester came and went, and I celebrated with classmates the next weekend by exploring this beautiful island. A bunch of friends/fellow classmates hopped on a bus and drove an hour out of town to the base of La Soufriere, a volcano with the highest peak in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

There are two different ways to ascend the mountain – one side offers a never-ending series of stairs, while the other offers a rocky, bushy expanse of “trails” (I use air quotes because they were hardly visible, and mostly just areas of trampled bush). We took the latter. The entire hike, up and down totaled about 28k…a necessary climb after an entire week of indoor studying on my butt! I have to say, it was the most glorious outdoor experience I’ve ever had. The weather was perfectly warm, and even though it started to pour rain for an hour on the way up, we barely noticed due to the expanse of foliage protecting us from above. The rain that did hit us, though, was welcome, the hike was intensely vertical (surprise, surprise) and our tour guide was practically running a mile/minute.

Sadly when we reached the top, the fog was so intense that we could barely see the sulfur-emitting crater below us, let alone the entire stretch of island from which we came. Thankfully it was clear most of the way up, so we were able to enjoy the amazing view plenty of times. We spent about 30 minutes up there snacking, resting, and just hanging out, but the combination of our wetness and the intense winds motivated us to start heading back down shortly after.

Finally, after 8 hours of sliding in the mud and dust, we reached ground level! The best part was walking down the beach, peeling off my sweat-soaked clothes and socks, throwing on a suit and jumping into the sea for a swim. The clouds parted completely just as we got down, so the sunset swim was a perfect cherry on top of an already amazing day with nature. Here are some pics for you to get the idea of just how gorgeous this was:

Beach where the bus dropped us off

Beach where the bus dropped us off

First had to navigate our way across rivers flowing into the sea from the mountain

First had to navigate our way across rivers flowing into the sea from the mountain

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Gorgeous view walking towards the base of the hike

Gorgeous view walking towards the base of the hike

Our group at the resting tree! I wish I got a better picture of how massive it was

Our group at the resting tree! I wish I got a better picture of how massive it was

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Almost near the top

Almost near the top

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At the top looking into the massive crater

At the top looking into the massive crater

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Again, no trail!!!

Again, no trail!!!

View of the beach coming back the opposite direction

View of the beach coming back the opposite direction

Side note: Our tour guide was pretty crazy – he did the whole hike in bare feet! Which he said was a cultural tradition for the tour guides. I’m also pretty sure he was still drunk when we picked him up (from the bar), yet amazingly he beat us all to the top sustained by a bottle of gatorade and 3 cigarettes alone. Talk about a natural.

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