I am thankful that I did not know exactly what I was getting into. This past week over the course of 36 hours two dear friends Brad and Marcelo and one new friend Simon, a Tai Chi and Chi Gong Master met at Brad’s house to go for a hike in his backyard. This was not just any back yard it was Chirripo Mountain. It is the second highest peak in Central America, 100 meters less then the highest in Guatemala. I thought I was engaging in a 15 KM hike. I was mentally prepared. I had not done any extensive training so figured I could get up and down with out too much challenge.
We woke up a 4am, had a 20 minute hot tub to loosen the muscles, inhaled a bowl of oatmeal and began our hike out of Brad’s front door. Before we hit the first KM I started to feel a twinge in my left knee. I had meniscus surgery 7 years ago. Simon offered to do some Chi Gong on my knee and I graciously accepted the support. Five minutes was all it took, the pain lessoned and we continued upward. At about KM 7 we stopped for a break, refilled or water bottles and had a quick snack. At this point I said, “I guess we are just about to the top.” Brad laughed and said, “not sure who sent you the memo on the hike but we are half way to base camp at the top. We will sleep for a few hours, hike another 5.1 km to the top of Mount Chirripo and descend 21 km arriving back to my house tomorrow afternoon.”
My heart went into my throat. How am I going to be able to complete this journey with a fragile knee? This would be a test of will and I love challenging myself. I was committed to seeing this journey through to completion.
We made it to km 15 where we had a room with two bunk beds to accommodate our sleeping bags and exhausted bodies. We ate some quinoa we packed for dinner along with about 10 other hikers who traversed the trail. It was the stunning beauty of the constantly changing landscape that took my mind off of my knee as spirit powered me through the climb. We went to bed at 8pm and woke up at 3am to continue to the top. The air was crisp. With headlamps on in the darkness we started our final climb 5.1 km up to the top of Mount Chirripo. Tired and sore it was an ordeal to continue putting one foot in front of the other. We made it to the peak by 7am. It was exhilarating standing on the top of this mountain as wisps of clouds floated past us.
Then it hit me. We just hiked 5.1 km up and now we would descend 21 km straight down back to Brad’s house. My mind began to play head games with me. The only way I knew I could complete this event would be by placing one foot in front of the other as a conscious walking meditation. Focusing on gratitude and the beauty of nature surrounding me would also fuel each step. All four of us made it back to base camp 15 km from our destination. We lathered our legs up with tiger balm, ate a bowl of oatmeal and continued down the mountain. Having never done a hike like this before little did I know that walking down the mountain would present a different challenge. No longer was it a cardiovascular demand now it was muscle fatigue setting in from the waist down.
Six hours later as I stepped onto Brad’s property the sweetest gift completed the journey. The sound of “Papi” coming from my twenty one month old daughter Arielle as she wrapped her little arms around my worn-out legs and welcomed me home. 69,000 steps up and down a mountain in 36 hours, an epic event I will never forget. It this hike peaks your interest this link will best prepare you for the experience.