A few years ago, I made the decision to climb a hill or mountain in every country I visited. As an island girl who often travels solo, accomplishing this feat usually involves finding a hiking group online. However, when I visited Jamaica, I had a group of friends there and somehow convinced them to embark on the journey with me to the highest peak on the island which also happens to be one of the highest peaks in the Caribbean, with only the island of Hispaniola boasting one above it.
The seven-mile trek up the mountain began on a rainy Saturday morning at 1:30am (yes, you read that correctly). Equipped with protective clothing, rain gear, water, and energy bars, we journeyed up the mountain in total darkness. We were all excited, yet worried, about what the trail would entail. But by the end, we were all left with a sense of accomplishment (and pain) from the journey.
Before the journey, we could find little information available on what to expect. So for my fellow island hikers and for anyone else interested in climbing to the top of the Caribbean, the Blue Mountains, here is a guide to ensure you get the most out of the experience.
1. Check the Weather
It is recommended that you begin the hike around 1:00am so that by the time you get to the peak, you can see the sun rise from the mountaintop. However, if it rains like it did when I took the trek, all you will experience at the top is cold wind and mist.
Checking the weather will also guide you regarding what to wear. Even though Jamaica is a tropical island where most people assume it will be hot year round, temperatures dropped to as low as 7°C (44.6°F) during our journey. Though once your body warms up as you hike, it no longer feels as cold.
2. Take a 4×4 to the Starting Point
It will take you all day to climb Blue Mountain from street level to the top. At an elevation of 2,256 meters (7,402 ft), it is grueling and a long journey to begin from street level. Along the mountain there are villages with homes, churches, and tuck shops. Once you get past this, you reach the actual trail to the mountain.
However, getting to the trail is an adventure in itself. The mountain is very steep and if you attempt to make it up with anything other than a 4×4, the vehicle will hate you for it.
3. Realize it is a Long, Long Hike
It took the fit among us approximately 5 hours to get to the top and another 4 hours to get back down. Unfortunately, our entire group did not make it down until almost 12 hours after we began. We also had a few who only made it half way because of the intensity. This hike is definitely not for amateurs.
4. Prepare Yourself for the Majestic Views
The views from that high in the Jamaican mountains were absolutely stunning. There is never-ending greenery, including the plants carrying the world famous Blue Mountain coffee beans. The trail is also never boring; you see a variety of views of the island along the route.
5. The Journey is Worth It
Once you are a nature enthusiast and adventure seeker, Blue Mountain is a “must experience” on your bucket list. It pushes you and challenges your body beyond what you thought it was capable of. However, in the end, the views, the smells, the sounds, and the sense of accomplishment make the entire journey worth it.
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Are you a fellow island hiker? Which peaks have you conquered?