Ferris Wheels, roller coaster rides, ridiculously high water slides, bobsleds and a 700 feet sky explorer are all exhilarating activities for the adventurous kind, like me. They were all wonderful and sometimes scary fun, but nothing compares to the 14-mile climb over the Blue Mountains right here in “sweet sweet Jamaica”. The Blue Mountains are known as the longest mountain range and include the island’s highest point, the Blue Mountain Peak, at 2256 m (7402 ft).
Since my hiking experience was unlike anything I have ever known, I decided to share it so you can have a go for yourself! I interviewed someone who hiked that mountainous challenge an impressive and almost unbelievable amount of times. His name is Kesmit Williams, a Jamaican chef garde manger who has been a chef for over 15 years and he absolutely loves to ‘run up that hill’ in his spare time
- How many times have you hiked to the Blue Mountain Peak?
- A. 44 times
- Why 44?
- Because I didn’t get to 45. (He laughed.) I really want to climb it when I get back to Jamaica.
- What made you keep going back?
- A. It’s about character building, life endurance and being one with nature and God. Some people cannot deal with pressure, they break. I like being with God, one-on-one as well. I feel close to Him right there. Nothing is added there. (He was referring to the pure natural surroundings.) Also, I liked giving someone that chance to experience those 3 things.
- What was your most memorable experience there?
- A. One of my most memorable experiences, because there are many, was seeing around most of the island on a sunset evening. The clouds rolled back and I was able to see most of the island. My second most memorable experience was being there when hurricane Mitch was about to hit Jamaica. (He chuckled.)
- What did you see?
- A. It’s not what I saw, it’s what I I’ve never been more horrified of being smashed in by trees. I never felt that kind of wind in my life.
- You used to take people on tours. What was the most challenging experience for you?
- A. Taking a group of 68 0r 70 persons up there. A few of the hikers were over 60 years old. It was the longest journey I have ever taken.
- What is challenging about that?
- All 68 or 70 people at the same time. I had to account for everyone in that open wilderness. Getting lost in Blue Mountain is really dangerous and JDF (Jamaica Defence Force) has to help. I didn’t want that on my tour guide belt.
- What’s your average time?
- A. By myself? 31/2 hours. With people? 6-7 hours.
- What tips do you have for potential hikers?
- Make sure you have:
- good shoes
- all you have all your clothing in one bag on your back, and the clothes should be in a waterproof protector.
- a water bottle
- a flashlight
- something to keep you warm (Some people hike wearing all the clothes they need for the weekend!)
- Is there any fun in hiking the mountain?
- A. Oh yeah. You find fruits that you won’t find in the rest of Jamaica. Namely, peaches, cheese berries and a fruit that looks like sour sop and sweet sop together. I don’t remember its name. Calla Lilies grow wild. You’ll find diversity in ferns and orchids.
Jus’ havin’ a good time with people.
You have to bathe in icy cold water and if you need to cook, you will probably have to make fire from damp wood. It’s always cold.
- What are some famous spots on the trail?
- Hiking through the Blue Mountain Coffee on Jacob’s Ladder. (The highest point that coffee is grown on the mountain)
- Devil’s Avalanche. It’s a shortcut. Not advisable. That shortcut is very dangerous (I’ve been there; it’s a hands and knees climb)
- The Peak! On a clear day you can see around the island. Very rare.
- Breezy Gully. The wind is very strong. We demonstrate that by throwing a piece of bush over the cliff and you would see it blow right back over your head.
- What can hikers look forward to at the end?
- Pain. (He laughs) Pain will come especially if you’re not fit. But the joy of accomplishing that journey is really overwhelming.
- How many pounds did your backpack usually weigh?
- A. Between 40 and 60 pounds. 60 when I’m taking: tent, sleeping bag, food, clothes, flashlight, batteries, camera and eating utensils. (He’s the fit one!)
Sounds like great fun and I know it is! So come on over, grab a light backpack and join many hall-of-famers who boast making a stamp on the towering, breath-taking and fun-filled Blue Mountains of Jamaica. Adventure awaits!
written by Trudean Scott-Elliot
See you soon.