Last year my brother hiked Mt Whitney in California which is the highest peak in the US at 14,000-ish ft. When he did this I thought, “I’d love to do something like that.” “I do Crossfit, I can climb a mountain!!” The thought of a 10km run sends pangs of fear down my spine, but for some reason I have the impression that hiking uphill for hours is no problem! While Semi-Primal Husband and I were in St. Lucia we were determined to hike Gros Piton Mountain, a mere 2,600 ft compared to Mt Whitney. It takes anywhere from 1.5 – 2.5 hours to hike/climb up. In my competitive Crossfit ‘for time’ state-of-mind, I said to SPH “We’re going to do this in under 1.5 hours!” The day before our date with the mountain we decided to drive into the park and take a closer look at the beast that we were up against. GAH! This thing is huge! And rocky! And it’s very hot outside! GAH! My grade 7 ‘chubby kid’ mentality came flooding back and I started doubting my abilities and fearing possible failure. It was the same fear that I used to have whenever we had to do our 1km (yes, 1km…i was afraid of that) run at school and I would come in dead last every year. The night before our hike I ate a delicious Paleo dinner, abstained from wine and drank plenty of H2O. Despite my best efforts I had a hard time sleeping as my inner ‘chubby kid’ would not leave my brain.
We got up at 5:30 to make it to the mountain by 7am – it’s steaming hot in St. Lucia so you want to do your hike as early as possible. SPH wore the backpack which contained 6 Litres of water, 2 bananas, almonds, some prunes, sunscreen, bug spray, paper towels and my Crossfit Quantum knee socks to put on at the top of the mountain (because most Crossfitter’s, including me, have a weird need to take an epic picture of themselves wearing a CF tee or something). This backpack weighed about 15-20 lbs, so it definitely made SPH’s hike much harder. It is mandatory that you hike the mountain with a guide – our guide was a St. Lucian girl who grew up in the village at the base of the mountain. At 7:30am we were off…
The first 1/4 is really easy…mostly a gradual incline with a few rocks. We blew past some fellow hikers and were going at a quick pace. Our guide asked us if we were hikers, to which I laughed and said “nope!” At this point I realized that perhaps having some hiking experience might be a benefit.
The next 1/4 to the half-way point gets a bit rockier, but we kept our quick pace and continued on. At the 1/2 way point there was a place to sit and re-hydrate. We stopped briefly (because I wanted to keep rest time to a minimum…because i’m insane) to take a couple pictures and then we kept going. This is when things got really hard and steep…We had to step up onto rocks that were 2 and sometimes 3 ft high – fortunately they have built somewhat of a handrail using dead wood that I was able to use to pull myself up and take some of the stress off my legs. After about 15 minutes of the steep climbing – fully drenched in sweat, panting and already sore – we needed a rest and found a couple rocks to sit on. At this point we asked our guide how much farther and she said, “10 minutes to the 3/4 way point” WHAT?!? Our original pace had moved to a slow climb and the 2nd half of the mountain took much longer than the first 1/2. At the 3/4 point we were dying and still had another 1/4 to go. We stopped a couple more times for breaks along the way and in the final stretch I took the backpack from SPH to give him a break and see what all the fuss was about. It was HEAVY and it made it incredibly hard to balance while climbing. But then we saw the light and knew the end was in sight…
The TOP!! Notice that there is a dog in the picture…. 4 strays followed us up and down the whole way – this little guy was so cute and I gave him my banana for a snack. The first thing I did was ask what time it was….8:50am. We did it in 1 hr 20 minutes. WHAT WHAT! I was so happy and proud for us.
The chubby kid in my head is in remission and now I know that I don’t need those fears anymore. Don’t let that chubby kid inside you ever stop you from challenging yourself or questioning your capabilities. Let that chubby kid inside you die with your giant red Carol Seaver glasses (yes, I had those…and a headgear!).
For those looking to do the Piton hike, I recommend practicing with some walking lunges…many, many walking lunges….with weights. Hiking this mountain was comparable to doing walking lunges uphill for an hour. Thank you Crossfit for putting me in the best shape I’ve ever been in!! My legs were only a bit sore the next day and I felt fantastic.
Unfortunately I completely forgot to take the epic picture of me in my Crossfit Quantum socks. I guess I’ll save those for Mt Whitney.