Craig Feigin | Trip to Victoria Peak, Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, Belize.
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Trip to Victoria Peak, Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, Belize.

04 Oct Trip to Victoria Peak, Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, Belize.

I live in Belize, Central America, and I love to explore my country. I It used to be that Victoria Peak was the highest peak in the country, but it was later discovered the peak right next to it was actually higher in altitude. I went on this adventure hike before that discovery was made, so I still like to say that I climbed the highest peak in Belize, which is still only 1120 meters in elevation.

A 2 hour drive gets my two uncles, Jacob and Leo, and myself to the Mayan Center at the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, comprised of 4,847 acres of protected forest.

We arrived well before dark, registered for our 30 mile round-trip hike, and proceeded to set up camp. After camp we cooked us a nice dinner, walked to the river for a bath, and went to sleep so we could get an early start.

The first leg of the hike is up to what is known as K12 (12km from starting point). This part of the hike was very easy, with an almost level walk. At this point we were feeling quit confident of ourselves, and thought that our attempt at lightning our backpack loads had been totally unnecessary. We at lunch at K12, and continued on our way. No more than 20 minute into the second leg of our hike, we realized that not everything was going to be as easy as it had appeared the first 12 km. The terrain started to become more and more mountainous, and at 18km there was one stretch of a solid 1 kilometer at a 30-45 degree slope. Please note we were not professional hikers, simply a group of friends that liked the outdoors. I work in an office 6 days a week, and did nothing extra curricular to keep fit, so at this point I needed to stop for a rest every 30 paces or so. After a couple of these, I started to feel light headed every time I stopped. When we reached the top of the grade, I told the group that I had to stop and rest or else I might pass out. We decided a 20 minute rest was not a problem. As I lay down against a tree, I fell asleep instantly, and awoke 45 minutes later to the rest of the group anxious to move on. After that rest, I was refreshed and paced the group the rest of the way to K19, which was the base closest to the foot of the mountain.

We set up camp, and I tried to eat some noodle soup, but was unable to hold it for more than a few minutes before I threw up everything. The rest of the hike I would live on energy and protein bars, prunes, and water. (don’t ask me why we had decided to bring prunes)

After a short night’s rest, we started off in the morning, taking only 1 small day pack between the three of us, and water. We did not need to take a lot of water, because creeks were everywhere with nice, cool and crystal clear water, uncontaminated by civilization.

At this point, it quickly became more of a climb than a hike, including a section considered a class 4 hike. I wasn’t feeling to well, and starting popping Tylenol pills to keep me going. The climb to the top took us roughly til midday, but instead of the cool breeze that we expected at the top, there was nothing but dead air and scorching heat, with absolutely no shade. We made our phone calls from the top, then made a 15 minute hike to the side of the hill where there was shade and some breeze. Here we stopped and took a long rest, before heading back down the mountain and back to base camp.

It was at this point that I started to realize I had a lot of blisters on my feet, and in the morning the blisters were actually worse. I could eat no more than tiny nibbles at a time, and water had to be take one tiny swallow at a time. My body was beyond exhaustion and on the verge of failure. The final kilometers out were done at a snail pace shuffle, trying to cope with the pain of walking on blisters.

I felt like Tom Hanks in Cast Away when I finally reached civilization. I had lost 12 points in 3 days. Covered in ticks from head to toe. My feet were pretty much one big blister, and for the next week, I found the only thing that I could comfortable take in was tomato juice, only adding solid food a little at a time.

A weekend well spend, but I believe once is enough for me, I won’t do it again.

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