Although I knew I’d given Hiking the Pitons as one of our activity options, we had both come to St Lucia completely unprepared for hiking. We didn’t have a backpack, hats, snacks or water bottles, and no idea of the intensity of the climb.
After a 2 hour drive along some of the windiest, most terrifying roads, we reached the base of Gros Piton, the larger but easier to climb of the two Pitons. We borrowed a backpack from our tour leader, and filled it with water and cameras.
The climb itself was 2 miles up, and they estimated it would take about 2 hours, with four mini stops along the way.
I think we weren’t the only ones who had underestimated the intensity of the hike, as people dropped out along the way, preferring to wait for us at the quarter and halfway points for us to pick them up on the way back down.
The views at the stopping points were huge incentive for us to keep going, despite the sweat pouring off us. The 31 degrees and high humidity meant we were all dripping almost as soon as we started.
The hike is classed as moderate to hard, with the first half as the moderate bit. This includes some quite steep scrambling over boulders and grabbing at trees to hoist yourself up to the next bit with some interludes of flatter parts. The second section is steeper with no flat bits. I didn’t snap any photos on the way up because my camera was in the bag, and I definitely needed both hands free.
Reaching the top was incredible- with views across the North of St Lucia, and most importantly a light breeze to help us cool off. I sat enviously watching others tuck into their snacks wishing we’d brought something to eat, until a lovely British couple shared their bananas with us. Word to the wise- bring snacks or at least cash to bring snacks, street vendors don’t take credit cards!!
The way back down was easier on the lungs, but just as tough on the legs and took even more concentration. It took us around an hour and a half to descend the mountain, watching out for every foot hole to ensure we didn’t twist an ankle.
It was such relief to make it back to the base, and head off in the van for some lunch. I was absolutely starving. Our guide took us to a local cafe overlooking the Pitons so that we could admire our morning’s work whilst eating Caribbean cuisine, before a dip in the sea.
If you’re in St Lucia and after a challenge, then climbing Gros Piton is brilliant, however do not underestimate how tough it is. The guide told us that our group did it faster than most, however I do think that a few signed up without the level of fitness required for it.
When we returned back to our hotel, Sandal’s Le Toc, there was a freshly run bath waiting for us to jump in to soak before our massages (the best planned massage ever!). Tom had his first massage, and I think he enjoyed it, although he was horrified by how much they cost. Completely worth it in this case! Our evening was rounded out by an incredible 5 course meal on the beach- I would gladly hike Gros Piton again for the amazing post-hike treatment!