I’ve been hiking for as long as I can remember. Granted, a few of those early years were somewhat against my will as my mom dragged my brother and me (and my dad, too) through many a trail and forest as we incessantly asked “Are we there yet?” Still, I can’t really remember a time in my life when hiking hasn’t been a part of my activity schedule. Don’t worry – I actually like it now that I’m an adult!
Perhaps because hiking is something I’ve been doing since before I could walk thanks to the invention of those baby carriers, I just assumed it is something that everyone has done at least once or twice – especially people who live in mountainous areas. On my recent trip to Nevis to run the Nevis Half Marathon, I knew that I definitely wanted to hike while I visited the island. After all, the whole island is mountainous, with one large dormant volcano in the center and plenty of surrounding hills offering gorgeous views of the ocean and neighboring St. Kitts! There was no way I was passing up the opportunity to explore the rain forest and get a good hike in.
I mentioned my desire to hike to my guide, Yvette, in hopes that she would be able to set me up with someone who would be willing to take me. While I’d normally not hesitate to go it alone, the trails in Nevis aren’t clearly marked, so it makes sense to go with a guide. The look on her face when I mentioned that I wanted to climb the volcano suggested that she thought I was slightly unhinged.
As it turns out, Yvette had never been hiking despite living on the island her entire life. As you can imagine, there was no way I was going to let that record stand. So began my relentless campaign to convince Yvette to become a hiker and head out on the trail with me. I have been told more than once I am very persuasive (or the word might be “annoying” – I’m not sure), but one way or another, Yvette and I were off at 5 am to meet our guide Kenneth, who would be leading us through the rain forest!
Now, I’ve done a lot of hiking, so I thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. A nice trail through some woods, a few technical parts, and maybe some steep climbs, but nothing too crazy, you know? Well, I was right…for a while. And then we got to the first set of ropes.
As it turns out, the trail was so steep in parts that ropes had been set up to help people make the climb since it gets so slippery. We started hauling ourselves up and although I was a little intimidated by it at first, I was surprised by how much easier the ropes made everything! It didn’t hurt that I also had the assistance of some of my favorite KÜHL gear – the Kendra shorts and Nora Tank – but it probably wasn’t ideal that I was hiking in Chacos. Sure, they’re hiking sandals…until you’re trying to scale the muddy side of a mountain. Anyway, Yvette gave me some major side eye, which is fair – I definitely hadn’t mentioned that ropes and climbing would be involved! I figured that would be the end of that and we’d go on hiking like normal.
Wrong! Most of the trail involved steep climbs after that as we ascended from waterfall to waterfall. I kept laughing because I actually couldn’t believe it – I had never been on a hike like that before! Still, Yvette was incredibly game and kept pushing on, even though she was looking at Kenneth and I like we were both nuts. “You do this for fun?!” she kept asking while laughing. I could only smile and say “Well, sort of!” while shrugging my shoulders and praying I made it up the next rope.
While hiking/rope climbing in the Nevisian rain forest is certainly a cool experience, the whole thing was heightened more by watching Yvette realize her own strength than the (magnificent!) beauty of my surroundings. Each time we reached another climb, her eyes would get wide and she would pause for a second, unsure if she could do it. And each and every time, she put one foot and one hand in front of the other and kept going for it until she reached the top. It was truly inspiring to watch!
This particular hike has six total waterfalls, but after four, Yvette was ready to call it quits. “But all the other people I know who have done this hike have stopped at number four!” she said. Obviously, I couldn’t let that stand. Before she knew what she was doing, we were making the climbs to numbers five and six, finally reaching the top!
And although she swore up and down as we descended that she wouldn’t be hiking again any time soon, I’m pretty sure she’s a convert! “See you on our next hike,” she signed her last email to me. “Maybe.”
Hey, I’ll take it!