When discussing what we would do during spring break (here it is called Karnaval break and coincides with Mardi Gras) we decided that we would attempt a hike we had heard a lot about. We wanted to go to Cap Haitien or the Dominican Republic, but those trips were too complicated or too expensive or both. So, we opted to save some money and have a bit more of an adventure and hike from Port au Prince (well, we started significantly south of the city) to Jacmel (the place we drove to earlier this school year). We had heard many different guesses on how long the hike would take and how difficult it was, but we assumed it would take about two days to get to Jacmel and we would camp just outside the small mountain town of Seguin.
On Monday morning nine of us began the journey. Katie, her friend Lauri, myself, Jill, Josiah, Nathaniel, Damon, Robbie and Irene all loaded up into a taptap to begin the climb up the mountain to begin the journey. An employee at the school owns a taptap and graciously agreed to give up a few hours of sleep on Monday morning to drive us an hour up a mountain. Each minute we drove uphill was less that we would have to climb….or so we thought. We began the hike in the small suburb of Port au Prince known as Kenscoff. The air was noticeably cooler and some of us put on jackets to begin the hike. For the next few hours we hiked uphill and then downhill with the views getting better and better the longer we walked. We talked, we snacked, we stopped to use the natural restroom, we shouted “bonjou” at people we passed by who returned the greeting with a look of confusion on what these nine blan were doing walking up a mountain with huge bags on their backs.
|Around the Kenscoff/Furcy area.|
|The long hike uphill...|
|Beautiful view from the top.|
|This plant looks like something from Dr. Seuss.|
|Walking on the edge of the pine forest.|
The first day we hiked a total of 14 miles with a total increase of 3,300 feet in elevation. After hiking up and up and up and up a hill, we reached the top and were greeted with a site you wouldn’t expect to see in Haiti….a pine forest. We had heard of the pine forest, but it wasn’t what we had expected. I expected a small grove of pine trees but instead saw a forest stretching far and wide filled with tall pines, their needles scattered along the ground. A dirt road cut through the forest and the cool, piney air was all around. What a refreshing site, but one problem stood out...we were almost out of water. It was getting around the time when we would need to set up camp but we hadn’t found a good water source. We had heard of a pump near where we were, but hadn’t found it yet. We stopped for a break and saw a small structure a few yards up the trail. Katie and I went to check it out and yippee, water!! A cement structure was pumping water from a nearby river and we were able to fill up our water bottles. We found a campsite nearby, hidden in the woods and set up camp. 5 hammocks, 2 tents, and a small camp stove later we were ready for the night. I’ll take a second and note the blessing that the Pruitts were on this trip. They are experienced hikers and backpackers and we honestly might not have survived the trip (at least not well) if we hadn’t had them. Robbie doctored our feet along the trail when we were developing “hot spots” on our feet from ill-chosen shoes (ahem, me…), they had water purification drops, camp stove, trail mix, and many other fabulous camping supplies that made our trip much more enjoyable.
|We found water!!!|
|The hammock set up.|
|Robbie in his cooking chair.|
|Jill and I stacked our hammocks...she was very close to me.|
After a great dinner made by Robbie, some tea, and some laughter, we climbed into our hammocks and tents at the early hour of 7:45 and settled in for the night. After hearing that the air was much cooler in the mountains we were prepared with sweats and socks and other warm clothes, but I still spent much of the night curled up in fetal position trying to stay warm. The night was fairly quite in the woods compared to the bustling noise of the city that we are all used to. No cars, no horns, no people, fewer roosters. Sleeping soundly, no major injuries, all nine of us still accounted for….our first day was a success.