I have waited for the opportunity to climb Sugar Loaf again so when I found out there was a hike today, I ‘signed up’ for it. Not only was this going to be a hike up Sugar Loaf, it was also the launching of a new trail from Regent to the top of the mountain. The event was organized by WAPFoR (Western Area Peninsula Forest Reserve) an organization working with the Ministry of Agriculture to preserve the forest. One of their activities is to create 80 km of trails to encourage eco-tourism and educate people on the need of preserving the forest.
Being the time-oriented folk that we are, us ‘white people’ showed up at 9 am on the dot (or earlier) and found ourselves waiting for our fellow Sierra Leonean climbers who were running on ‘BMT = black man time’. I think the group was mostly complete shortly after 10 am. Without much more delay a speech was held, followed by the cutting of the ribbon and after that the hike began.
The hike itself was enjoyable although a bit more difficult than I thought it would be. I am definitely out of shape and was breathless here and there. I think we started off far too quickly. After a little while I decided to take it at a slower pace; after all, I wanted to enjoy the hike, not feel like I was about to die. I met a number of new people and had some interesting chats along the way.
When we got to the top we enjoyed the view from various spots. It was a bit hazy, so we did not have brilliant views, but the sight of the forests and hills was still great. We were given a packed lunch and drinks from the organizers (a pleasant surprise) and also took a group photo at the top of the mountain which ended with some crazy singing. It really was a fun trip.
The way down was much easier than expected and it was nice to be able to enjoy the view a bit more and hold a conversation without worrying about being short of breath. It was fun chatting with my two colleagues, Tom and Suzanne, as well as two new friends who I met on the water taxi 10 days ago who are new to Freetown. It was definitely a memorable experience and great exercise although I think I’ll be feeling my muscles tomorrow!
I’m glad I made it to the top and am sure I’ll do it again in the near future. More people need to climb it and I now know the way!