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Sometimes Hiking opens doors to additional types of adventures, just as fun, and all in the arms of Mother Nature.
Recently, I signed up for a hike which took place in Pointe Gourde, in Chaguaramas, Trinidad. This hike also involved some Rock Climbing and Rappelling, which are two activities I had not tried as yet.
You can Watch My Video here, to have an idea on how it all went.
What follows is my detailed experience with those activities, along with a bit of advice for those who would like to give it a try.
The hike was a very easy 30-minute walk, mostly in shaded areas.
This area (Pointe Gourde) requires a permit to enter, so please be guided accordingly.
No such luck in spotting a wild Howler Monkey (it’s one of their natural habitat). I heard a few growls though.
Surprisingly, we were shown a tree called the “Blood Tree”. It gets its name because of the color of its sap. Indeed, when the guide slightly brushed the tree with his cutlass, the sap was red. It looks exactly like human blood, but has no odor.
Quick Fun Fact: In the past, this sap was used to do makeup for theatre/movie performances.
Rock climbing is “the sport or activity of climbing rock faces, especially with the aid of ropes and special equipment“ (Oxford dictionary).
The first rock we got to is actually located next to the entrance of a man-made cave. The US Army dug it, back when they were occupying these lands, decades ago.
What to expect?
The group I was part of was only made up of first timers, just like me. How ideal! We took turns in climbing the 30-foot wall. Our gears for the climb included a harness and a helmet. The ropes were tied to trees at the top & bottom of the cliff.
One rock climbing & rappelling expert stood at the bottom of the wall, while the other expert waited at the top of the wall, providing guidelines during the climb, whenever necessary.
No worries, if you lose your grip from the rock, the experts have your back, hmm, literally! That’s what the harness system is for….to ensure that you’re caught and avoid falling.
On average, each of the ladies took about 5 minutes to complete the climb. The guys took probably 3 minutes.
I took 1 minute and a half, though I am only indicating this timing to illustrate the advice I am giving below (Think it through, before the climb.)
It’s normal for people to experience/do things in different ways, and so the group encouraged each climber until their climb & rappel were completed.
Each featured climbs were sped up in my video, so it isn’t too lengthy to watch. Only the rappels were at normal speed.
One would be better off analyzing which “path” on the rock would work more suitable for them during the climb, beforehand. Choose your path based on your arms’ reach and legs length.
Failure to do so, would make the climb more challenging and quite lengthy. It’s much harder to see where is best (and more efficient) to place your feet and your hands, after you have started your climb.
Trying to figure out where to go while already hanging on the rock will only cause frustration, fatigue and, sometimes, despair.
Some climbers got stuck half way up and had difficulties finishing the climb. With some guidance from everyone else, they were able to complete their climb.
What to expect?
According to the Oxford Dictionary, to rappel is to “descend a rock face or other near-vertical surface by using a doubled rope coiled around the body and fixed at a higher point”.
After climbing the 30-foot rock, we had to rappel from it. We had done a few drills before anyone started rock climbing, so we had a fair idea on how to rappel.
Gloves were provided and we each rappelled down that 30-foot rock.
Let’s just say that it took a few seconds for each person to complete their rappel.
As someone who grew up watching a lot of TV, I couldn’t help but think about American TV shows, such as “MacGuyver“, during that exercise, lol.
I also realized that rappelling for me was not as graceful as what I saw on TV, lol! More practice in the future might fix that though, chuckles!
After a brief 5-minute walk, we arrived at the top of a 75-foot cliff.
Now the sight was quite impressive, even intimidating! We each tried to carefully look down to see how far down 75 feet really looks like. We literally had to lay on our stomach or crawl to take a good look down safely.
However, we each managed to rappel safely from that, listening how loud each person would scream on their way down, lol.
I didn’t find any reason to scream though :-).
I was among the few who opted to rappel down each rock twice, so yea, I enjoyed this new adventure thoroughly.
Just a fair warning: your arms and shoulders will be sore the next day. Totally worth it though!
In the end, we all did what we came to do: to have fun and experience something new, in a safe way.
If you’re new to these activities, you should only practice them while in the care and supervision of Trained Professionals.
Safety must come first. Do learn the basics about your equipment before starting the climb. Do not be afraid to ask questions.
Rappelling, Rock Climbing and Free climbing are life-threatening activities.
Free Climbing is “Rock climbing without the assistance of devices such as pegs placed in the rock, but occasionally using ropes and belays). Read more here.
Please be guided accordingly.
In the comments, feel free to let me know if you have already experienced rock climbing and/or rappelling.
If so, how did you enjoy it? If not, do you think it’s something you’d consider trying.