WNMHGB 4 – Galeota or Bust
This high endurance ultra Coasteering mission was quite intense. It covered 70km and essentially took us 14hrs to complete.
We could have shaved off a little time here, if my mission buddy Javan, didn’t forget his truck keys on a roadside culvert at the start point. He only realized this 6km into our journey and had to run back for them. Just kidding… well about the time saving statement, he is a tough as they come, so the track back was a non-issue for him. Perhaps a more realistic statement, would be that time could have been saved, if I could move as fast as him.
This disparity did however eventually balance off, as he let our hard earned, handpicked, bottled on spot coconut water, float away unnoticed down river!
Our 5.am. start point for this one was the Manzanilla Beach facility. The objective was to get to Galeota Point, hugging the coastline, by any means necessary! Running along the Manzanilla or any other road strip was therefore not an option.
This leg was approximately 25km of pristine coastline. At that time of the morning, it was easy sailing. The only nuisance was the eventual sand piles which accumulated in our trainers, as we trod through the surf.
The fresh morning sea breeze eventually brought with it the sunrise and various birds of prey gliding along the coastline. On this segment, we also encountered our first of many, Green Turtle sightings.
We eventually arrived at our first rest stop at the picturesque Nariva river mouth. This is where we had our coconut water scavenge. At that point, these thirst busters seemed like the best either of us ever had. However, as I mentioned earlier, it was rather short-lived, as Javan allowed our prized bottles to float out of his backpack at the subsequent river crossing.
It was now about 4 hrs. into the trek, bringing us almost at the end of the ‘Manzan’ strip and to the outskirts of Ortoire Village. We dubbed this segment the Twilight Zone, as religious trinkets were scattered about the shoreline; these were perhaps used as part of religious ceremonies. Crossing the Ortoire river was short but very intense. Perhaps the powerful currents were nature’s way of giving us a sneak peak of what was instore.
The Pt. Radix approach
This was the shortest segment of the mission; about 15km. However, due to the high technical aptitude required to make our way around this coastline section, it took us the better part of 4hrs. to conquer it.
Words absolutely cannot describe the experience and the landscape we encountered here. All I can say is that is was totally unexpected and mind-blowing! I didn’t imagine our south east coast to be loaded with such challenging terrain which included an array of jagged rocks and cliffs. If not for the rope we had with us, some parts would have been near impossible to traverse.
Most of these cliff faces were bare, with some portions having a beige, clay texture; I'd even say that some sections resemble the impressive cliffs and rock faces of the Sinai dessert.
When the climbs were too 'sketchy', or the terrain required us to venture too far inland, we opted for a swim. In anticipation of this, we did pack fins as part of our mandatory gear requirements. As it turned out, this was perhaps the most critical piece of gear, as some of these swim segments generously exceeded 1km. While some of them were calm, others came with big surge, surf, and very strong currents.
The final approach to Pt. Radix is a tale on its own! We now had to tackle a precarious 30m cliff face climb. With our rope and the help of a derelict ladder which looked like it was ensconced there by the notorious Captain Blackbeard himself, we eventually made it over... after a couple attempts.
Not too long after overcoming this hurdle, we embarked on a peaceful swim into Mayaro bay. Along this strip, we had frequent encounters with Green Sea Turtles, popping up to catch a breath; or perhaps it was the same one… who knows. Whichever the case, it/they seemed to also be a tad inquisitive about us. Glancing at the coastline at that point, it was now embellished with lush flora with a few cascades trickling between the drop-offs.
Mayaro to Galeota
On Mayaro beach touch down, we were faced with the executive decision – do we press on? Or do we call it a day? We were now essentially 9 hours in, nutrition and water supplies were low, with legs on the verge of feeling wobbly. Of course we pushed on! In retrospect, I don’t believe either of us seriously contemplated backing down from completing the mission.
Alas we could now see the Galeota flame, but the distance did look daunting; 30km at least! Although we did have to dig deep mentally at this point, the sun and sea breeze acted in our favor. We kept going and going and going, but as dusk settled over the ocean, that landmark flame seemed to be get further and further away.
We were now pushing through high tide, which also meant that toward the end of Mayaro beach, about 3 km out of Galeota, we would have a couple (less challenging) coastal cliffs to navigate. We took a deep breath and about 4 hrs. later, we were there… exhausted but surprisingly not annihilated. The only thing left now, was to land a hitch hike back to the truck… WNMHGB Mission 4 done and dusted!
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