When I found out on Saturday that Vic, Paul and I would be PMs on the Coast to Coast trek I was overwhelmed with both excitement and trepidation at the task ahead: 270 kilometres, a team of seventeen, and the aim of reaching the Pacific Coast in nineteen days.
Cas, Matt and Iona were our day leaders for the first two days and did an amazing job of ‘raleigh-ing’ the team, allaying fears and getting everyone’s Positive Mental Attitude into gear. On Day 1 we had to stop the bus 3km short of our drop-off point which made our first day a cheeky 16km. We began the trek by dipping our toes into the Carribean sea then walking along the stunning beach for 5km taking in all the sights and sounds. We were passed by locals saying Buenos Dias looking unsure of what fourteen venturers and three PMs were up to with their huge packs on.
We carried on walking along abandoned train tracks and under the scorching sun for five hours until we reached our first stop. Henry spoke to the locals and managed to find a lovely Costa Rican family who let us sleep in their garden, use their water and their toilet. It is something I can’t imagine happening in the UK and something that provoked discussion within our group: would people back home offer a group of random smelly trekkers such amenities, especially something as precious as water?
On Day 2 we awoke at 3am, packed our tents and did our morning stretches to prepare for the 22km trek to Colonia. It was then down to business. We walked for miles through banana plantations and villages and by 11am, befuddled by our speedy pace, we had already done 16km. A local man invited us into his home and gave us coconuts he had cut down from his tree. The generosity of local people never ceases to amaze us and is something we find hard to describe. It seems as though at every corner there is a man, woman or child waving at us with a big smile- which on tough days can make a huge difference. We were offered a tour to spot poison dart frogs, as well as a trip to a cultural museum which some of the group participated in. Following this we had a lovely banquet table dinner, ending a tough but rewarding few days.
Day 3 saw us trek 22km, the last four kilometres of which was steep uphill. It was a tough ending to a long, hot day but we made it to our campsite, sleeping beside cows. With Tung Wing’s call of ‘Day 3 is complete’ we knew it was tents up and bedtime, although a few of us had a fun time trying to warm down.
With World Water Day coming up we have all thought more about the importance of access to water. Every time we use the toilet, have a bucket shower or drink we realise how dependent we are on it to keep us hydrated and healthy.
We have now entered Barbilla National Park which involved 12km of steep uphill, followed by some more uphill and the occasional downhill for good measure. Ascending to 450m, we reached an incredible vista overlooking the mountains. Eagles were soaring overhead and on the horizon we could spot the sea, where our journey had begun.
This morning a passing local enquired what we were all up to at four o’clock in the morning, to which Tom replied ‘we’re heading for the Pacific!’ It does sound pretty epic and to be honest, that’s exactly what it is.
We would like to say a big thank you to all of our loved ones supporting us back home, as well as a thank you to the Field Base team who are always looking out for us- we couldn’t do it without you!
Love from Gabby, Paul, Vic, Iona, Kieran, Matt, Cas, Tom, Greg, Lilly, Merle, Anna, Henry, Adriana, Tung Wing Chow, Amelia and Olly.