On Saturday 25th June, 2022, I competed in my first Hikeathon 😎. This hike is an annual event organized by Mario Russell and the Island Hikers Club. It is a 27 km trek from Matelot to the Spring Bridge in Blanchisseuse. I remember when I first heard about this event a couple of years ago, I thought to myself “Why on earth would someone do something like that, hike almost 30 km, that’s crazy!“ and well…. in June I registered for and competed in this event. Ain’t life funny 😜!
This was my husband’s first Hikeathon in a couple of years and my first ever so we ended up overpacking when it came to food items 🙄. We bought 3 types of hydrogels (Orange, Coffee and Salted Caramel – none of which I drank, they are still in the fridge) , a lot of snacks including cashew nuts, peanuts🍪 🌰 🥜, kit-kat 🍫, skittles, popcorn (I love popcorn🍿), plantain chips (yes, most of the snacks were for me, judge me if you like), croissants 🥐with cheese, croissants with tuna, Crix (VITAL Supplies), water, Gatorade and juice. All of that was in our hydration bags, packed and ready to go the night before the hike🤭.
At 2am on Saturday morning🌚, we arrived at Mt Hope and met the other excited hikers, some first timers such as my self and some seasoned veterans of this event such as my mother-in-law and husband😃. We completed the registration under the tent, got our ankle timing chips and got onboard the maxis for the drive to Matelot. I must say, the process ran smoothly in the morning and they gave out yogurt, Powerade, water and hydrogels while we were registering. By 2:40 am, the last maxi left Mt. Hope and we were all on our way to the starting point of our Hikeathon 2022 adventure😁.
After a very very long drive, approximately 3 1/2 hrs long (with one rest stop to stretch our legs in Toco), we arrived at the village of Matelot. Some persons were able to sleep during the journey, I was not one of those fortunate few and was up for most of the drive.
Matelot is a quiet village located to the North Eastern side of the island of Trinidad and is considered one of the more remote parts of our island, we actually passed over two wooden bridges. When last have you seen a wooden bridge in Trinidad or Tobago? 😱
To be honest, I think this was my first time in Matelot but there was no time to take in the scenery. By 6:00 am, we all disembarked from our maxis and put our minds to the task at hand. It was a beautiful sunny 🌞 morning and we were ready to hike🚶♀️ 🚶.
At 6:20 am Mario Russell, walked us to the starting point of the trail at The Matelot bridge and gave a speech. The main thing I remembered from that speech was that he said if you were having trouble on the first part of this hike, the Matelot to Madamas section, you should turn back as the maxis will be here for about an hour waiting at the starting point. If you were having difficulties in this first part, chances are you will not be able to make it all the way 🙅 🙅♂️. The second thing that stood out to me was “if you reach Paria Bay after 3pm, you will be asked to take the boat back to the Spring Bridge”. All other instructions were given, we warmed up, took our pre-hikeathon pics and when the horn blared, we started our journey.
Part 1: Matelot to Madamas
The hike began on the bridge next to Matelot Beach and we ran along the beach and then entered the trail 🌲 🌳. Of course, as with any hike, there was a lot of traffic at the start and along this first part of the hike, some persons were running, some walking slowly, some overtaking others any chance they got. I ended up meeting up with 2 of my coworkers – Melissa and Koebillah, and we stayed together till we all crossed the finish line at the Spring Bridge. The hike to Madamas took us 3 hrs and although it was never very steep, there was a bit of uphill and downhill along the way. The challenging part of this leg of the, was due to the length of the trail rather than the steepness of the mountain.
PS. Some persons heeded Mario’s advise and turned back on this leg when they realized that they were either cramping, got injured or just did not have the energy or stamina to do this hike.
We arrived at Madmas Bay 💦 at around 9:30 am after covering a distance of 12.7km. This was my first time at Madamas and I found it was an absolutely beautiful, un-spoilt spot, the river and the beach was like seeing an oasis after so many hours in the bush. Trini sweet enuh! 😍
Part 2. Madamas to Grand Tacaribe
As soon as we left Madmas Bay, we were met with a short but steady uphill trek on our way to Grand Tacaribe. I love hiking but hills are the bane of my existence, I may not stop completely, but I will slow down😰. I ended up taking my time on this first part but was able to keep a good pace whenever the trail leveled out. This was not a very long stretch and 3 hrs 55 mins from the time we started hiking, we arrived at Grand Tacaribe. At this point, we had covered about 15.7 km and it was 10:30 am.
PS. I finally began eating some of my snacks on this leg, I ate my banana and my croissants with cheese and a kit-kat. I also drank some water. I really don’t know why I packed so many things, but lesson learnt for next time.
Part 3: Grand Tacaribe to Petit Tacaribe
The hike from Grand Tacaribe to Petit Tacaribe was fairly short and we arrived at Petit Tacaribe at around 11:00 am. There was a beautiful house at the Eastern end of the beach, immediately after you come of the trail where some guys were liming and just enjoying “island life” 🏝.
We continued walking to the other end of the beach and decided to have a rest stop with some of the other hikers. We all had a quick lunch and relaxed for a short while at a house on the Western end of the beach. At around 11:20, we decided to begin our trek to Murphy Bay 😄.
Part 4: Petit Tacaribe to Murphy Bay
The hike ☘️ out of Petit Tacaribe to Murphy Bay was also quite short and not too strenuous when compared to that first leg from Matelot to Madamas. There was actually a short midday shower to cool us down as we headed to Murphy Bay. The trail had some uphill portions but it was mostly flat with some downhill. There were also a few very muddy patches where your shoes got stuck (we were grateful that today was a mostly sunny day, I will not want to do this hike if it was raining heavily 🌦).
5 hrs 25 mins since we had started our journey, we arrived at the beautiful Murphy Bay💦. We entered on the eastern end but to get to the western end of the bay we had to run around a rock that was protruding into the sea…… a real adventure as we tried not to get wet from the waves🌊. At this point, it was mid-day (12:00 pm) and we had hiked 21km already! Just even thinking about that at this point has me amazed. How did we do it? I really do not know😚.
Part 5: Murphy Bay to Paria Bay
Murphy Bay is approximately 1.4 km from Paria Bay and by 12:27 we had arrived at the well known Paria Bay 😉.
We arrived at the eastern side of the beach where it meets the river and at this point, the river was waist high so we had to either had to use a rope and have our bags ferried across on the makeshift Styrofoam dinghy or swim across if you were able to swim. I choose to swim and used it as a nice refreshing bath before we had to begin the last leg of our journey. We had covered a distance of 22.4 km at this point and we were about to begin the last leg of the journey, Paria Bay to the Spring Bridge 🙏.
Part 6: Paria to the Spring Bridge in Blanchisseuse (THE FINISH LINE)
Although I have hiked to Paria Bay on many occasions with my Hikers United Team, for the past few years, I have taken the boat ⛵️ back from Paria Bay to Blanchisseuse and I had forgotten how long this journey was. This last leg was PRESSURE! Wow. But thank God this trail is so wide and clear and the weather was perfect 🌞.
After hiking about 23km, this final trek to the Spring Bridge felt extremely long and exhausting but step by step we got closer and closer😎. At one point we planned on detouring and enjoying the views from Turtle Rock, but in the end we decided against it and kept on our course to the Spring Bridge.
8hrs 15 mins after we started this journey on a Bridge in Matelot, we finally crossed the Spring Bridge in Blanchisseuse. WOW. What a journey it was! 🥰 We hiked a total of 26.7 km (16.6 miles) that morning, what an amazing feeling to finally reach to the end of Hikeathon 2022!
This was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to do it again next year. It is the longest hike I have ever done to date and I hope to do it at a faster pace (under 8 hrs) next year. Special thank you to Mario Russell the leader of Island Hikers and his team for putting on such a wonderful event. It was well organized and a fun experience for the outdoor hiking enthusiasts 😃.
PS. I loved the medal!
FYI the fastest person, Michael Honore finished this race in 3h 14 mins and the first woman to complete the course, Abigail Baksh made it in 7h 20 mins.
My social Media: cellyhikes (IG & TikTok)
Hiking Team: Hikers United (check us out on FB, IG & TikTok)