The Venture Managers and Venturers spent all of Friday working with the logistics team preparing kit for the various projects - worksite tools, food and tents.
There was a massive amount to sort out and everyone was rewarded with a good feed for dinner and 'random night', which meant pulling out whatever you could find from the fancy dress box and arranging it upon ones self as badly as possible.
Saturday morning started bright and early with everyone up and about by 3am to start getting ready for their Phase 1 deployments. After making some breakfast and lunch sandwiches the busses arrived and the process of loading them up with the gear began.
The first to head off were the Nicaraguan based Alpha Groups (1,6 and 7) on their big Transnica bus.
After that each group left once they completed loading their busses and ensured that all were aboard.
I left with Alpha 2 and we were soon on our way (Sorry Sophie!)
A long day was ahead and much rest was needed...
We passed through Guacimo before turning south towards the Volcan Turrialba. Once our bus could go no further we were off on the official start of The New Trek!
We walked for a few kilometers before we arrived at our first river crossing. The heavy rain in the mountains had raised the volume of the river and we decided to camp overnight to wait and see if the level dropped.
Not everyone had trouble crossing however!
The bad news was delivered and we decided to camp a safe distance from the river for the night and hope for no rain.
The PMs were also looking for alternate routes a bit further up the river and came across a harmless False Coral Snake.
We set up camp, cooked some delicious macaroni cheese and got some sleep.
It absolutely poured with rain overnight and in the morning the river looked no better - if not worse. We headed back out of the jungle to the main road to head towards the alternate route.
We needed to head East to Babylonia before once again heading south towards Volcan Turrialba.
We arrived at the bus station at Guapiles and had some time to kill before the bus arrived. It was unknown at this point if the bus passing through here would be full or not - if it was it was another 1km to the main Bus station.
It was indeed full, but we were soon at the next station and on our way.
We stopped for lunch at a lovely spot on the side of the road...
We arrived in Babylonia, topped up our water and kept moving...
... and after a few more kilometers arrived at our destination - La Florida - where we set about trying to secure somewhere to set up our tents for the night.
After doing our coms for the day, we had secured offers of the local football field, complete with flushing toilets or the community center (once the party finished). These were both trumped, however, by the offer made by the amazing Solo who offered for us to overrun the entire downstairs of his lovely house, asking nothing in return.
A thankyou from everyone.
The next morning we were once again on our way, but no longer with Volcan Turrialba in our sights. The heavy river and detour left us with no choice but to go around the mountain and meet up with the intended route on the other side.
It was a big climb up the hill, but it was worth it in the end for the view of the sprawling lowlands out to the Caribbean sea.
We weren't done yet though...
Another lovely lunch spot
And on our way again
We arrived then at Pascua and had to make a decision - did we make a massive detour to see Monumento Nacional Guayabo and then double back on ourselves to meet up with the initial route or take a more direct route and give ourselves a day in lieu?
The PMs left the day leader, Josh, and the group to nut it out and they soon came back with a decision - take the direct route and have a day spare. It was a tough decision to make as they had already missed the volcano climb, but they felt it was the best option. We were permitted to use the Pascua community center and had a great night after doing our coms.
The next morning was the most stunning sunrise I have ever seen in my life, bar none. I will let the pictures speak on my behalf.
We were then on our way, one again.
We climbed a massive hill - in some places so steep that I was on my toes only. Once we all got up to the top there was a huge sense of relief and achievement, but it was very, very hot so we found some shade under a bus shelter and took a few minutes to recouperate.
We then headed down the other side of the hill towards the old unused railway lines which would hopefully get us quickly to our day 5 stop - 1 day early as planned.
The hill down was very steep and hurts already sore feet a lot, but everyone managed in the end and we met up with the old tracks where we stopped for water and some lunch.
Blue-Jeans Poison-Dart Frog
We met some unpassable areas but always managed to find a way to get around them, until finally we got to a point where we could not pass. There was massive dissapointment and dejection as we needed to backtrack all the way back up to the bus shelter - a hard walk.
It was a massive effort from everyone - I can honestly say I've never been so tired, but we made it back up to the top only to be greeted by Bravo 3 with the day 4 food and kit dropoff.
This was where I very sadly left the group (feeling more than a little guilty) after wishing everyone well and letting them know I would be seeing them again soon. On the drive back to fieldbase my heart dropped with every steep hill and I was very worried that they did not have enough light left to get to the next town - Sauce. I was beyond happy and really proud when I heard them call in to let us know that they had made it, becuase I had seen what they had dealt with in the previous four days and knew what a feat it was to get as far that day as they did.
I'd like to say thanks to Polly, Laurie and James for their excellent work as PMs and Adam, Ana, Amy, Ben, Calvagh, Cecilia, Corinne, Jan, Josh, Sophie, Tom and Victoria for your amazing company and just doing so well - not a single whinge the entire time. I can't wait to see you again for the Dragon and then hopefully at the finish line at the Pacific!