We decided before leaving Martinique we needed to hike this gianormous dormant volcano that loomed over the anchorage in St Pierre. In 1906 the side of the volcano turned bright glowing red and then exploded fire balls over the town and anchorage. 30,000 people died that day and only two survived. One was a prisoner who was in a stone cell in the middle of town and the other was the cobbler. Not sure what protected him. The town has been rebuilt incorporating pieces of walls and structures that remained. A stark reminder of the devastation.
We rented a car and drove up to the base of the volcano and to be honest I didn't really know what I had signed up for. I am terrible at estimating distances and heights and so I just began hiking merrily on way with my blinders on. When you start at the bottom of such a massive volcano you actually don't see the top. Turns out we made THREE false summits. This is when you hike straight up pushing yourself to your absolute limit and telling yourself that you are almost there and that the peak is just in front of you and then you climb those last few steps and stand up and.....OMG......off in the distance is yet another peak!
My legs were burning, my heart was pounding and I was covered in sweat. Graham and Alex took off ahead of us. Leaving Amelia and I with only one water bottle as they were carrying the packs. Having them carry all the water seemed like a really good idea until we were without water. Luckily after they also realized the size of this beast of a mountain, Alex waited for us with the water. Gotta love that kid.
At the beginning of the hike Amelia and I were playing out stopping at various points but then as we climbed higher the views and landscape of the volcano were unbelievably stunning. We were energized and just wanted to get higher and higher. Soon we were in the clouds and the wind picked up and the temperature dropped. Again a reminder that I had no idea how high we were going. Other more experienced hikers were passing us with jackets and real hiking boots and sticks and then there are the four of us in a mismatch of runners and deck shoes and t-shirts and tank tops. Lesson learned for our next hike. At some points we climbed straight down into massive crevases and then would be pulling ourselves up through boulders. It was challenging but also very cool.
As we climb the official last bit and reached the top it was such a great feeling. The clouds cleared long enough for us to get a stellar view of pretty much all of Martinique. I was freezing but unbelievably happy. Alex put his arm around me to keep me warm and for a moment I just let happiness wash over me. Today on facebook this little pop up showed up to remind me what I had posted a year ago and I had posted a pic of the four of us on top of the mountain in Bora Bora from a few years back and the status read, "I love watching my kids grow up and off on their own but man what I wouldn't give to be climbing mountains together again." I am savouring every moment.