St. Louis To St. Lucia

Welcome!  For those who don’t know me, I’m Karin.  40+-year-old (we won’t say how many +’s—lol!), Wife, Mom, Friend, Sister, Daughter, Aunt, etc.  I’m an avid traveler, expert Googler &  TripAdvisor stalker, vacation planner, wine drinker, beer sampler, and whiskey aficionado (<—ok, maybe not, but I *really like* trying new whiskeys!).

I’ve been married for 21 years (we got married when we were babies, for real) and last year we took a truly incredible trip for our anniversary!  Let me start by saying that life is hard guys.  It’s HARD.  Even if you have your crap together, it’s hard.  And this chick doesn’t always have her crap together…so it’s tough.  BUT, I absolutely *LOVE* my life.  Chaos and all, I love it.

 

I also want to put it out there that I’m not a perfect Wife, Mom, Friend, Daughter, Sister, etc.  But I try.  I TRY to be the best ~whatever it is~ that I can be on that very day and at that very time.  I don’t have life figured out.  If you do, let me know the secret!  I simply make the effort every day and I think that’s the best anyone can do.

 

So, let me get back to the trip……We are pretty well-traveled folks.  We have done all-inclusives, cruises, road trips, camping, and stayed in everything from a Motel 6 to a Waldorf Astoria so I feel like we have pretty much covered our bases on the travel thing.

 

We decided to really splurge for our 20th anniversary and be totally pampered. -Not because we needed to but if there was ever a time to celebrate -it’s celebrating 20yrs of marriage- because we are still in the thick of it people!  Our kids are still at home.  We are still running to practices, games, school events, and Target at 9pm for some random item(s) that are needed for something the next day at school.  We are managing full-time jobs and full-time kids and full-time calendars and and and and…..I know you all hear me and understand.  Many of you are right here in it with us!

 

We decided to book a fantastic resort in St. Lucia to escape the craziness and GET AWAY for a week. (Let’s be honest, if you know me, you know I can’t ever actually “disconnect” so there were daily check-in’s with the kiddos.)  But it was truly the most amazing and magical trip!  

 st. lucia helicopter tour transfer to sandals grande st. lucian sgsl #stlouistostlucia

We are certainly NOT high maintenance people however, we definitely over-splurged on our trip.  We had a private rondoval (small round private villa).  5-star treatment, white glove service, people catering to our every whim!  Butlers in tuxedos bringing you beers on the beach?  Yes.Please.  First helicopter ride?  Check!  It was a DREAM vacation.  -And hell, after 20years of putting up with each other's $hit (excuse me, crap) we deserved it!!  Yes, we had sunshine and terrific food and beautiful beaches and wonderful pools and drinks served to us in coconuts and yada yada yada.

st. lucia sandals grande st. lucian sgsl #stlouistostlucia rondoval 7006

sandals grande st. lucian sgsl #stlouistostlucia anniversary butlers on the beach cabana 

However, the VERY best and most magical/memorable experience of the WHOLE week? The one that we talk about or reference (still) nearly every day almost 2yrs later? Sweating our tails off while our leg muscles were practically crying while hiking a tropical mountain.  YES!  Hiking a mountain when it was a zillion degrees outside and we had to get up at the crack of bajeepers (that’s an actual time on the clock, I promise!) because the mountain is over a 90 minute drive from the resort ---and then climb for 2+ hours in the hot humid (jungle/rainforest/whatever)....yes, THIS was the best memory we have ever made.  Hands down.  THE BEST.

 

Leading up to the trip I had perused (ie: stalked) TripAdvisor and Instagram every.single.night.before.bed.  I would look to see who had posted photos and what they did/said about their experiences that day.  Let’s be clear, not everyone hikes Gros Piton in St. Lucia.  And there is an option to hike it half-way (which still catches a terrific view) and quit.  You can turn around and walk right back down from the half-way point and you still get the amazing photos and ridiculously beautiful scenery in the background.  -But only a smaller percentage make it to the top of the mountain.  Only a smaller percentage put in the practice and the effort.  Only a smaller percentage are DETERMINED enough to suck it up and stick it out through the pain and the sweat and the frustration.  You see, when I saw these photos and read the descriptions on TripAdvisor and Instagram about the hike up the mountain I told my husband we needed to work out before going on vacation and PREPARE or else we weren’t making it to the top of the mountain——and I had already decided we WERE making it to the top!  So, for 6 weeks before our trip we worked out almost daily to get ready.  (Hubby is already a fit person so he kind of teased me about how serious I was taking this mountain hike --but I was hell-bent on getting to the top!)

 

So, here we are the day of the hike.  We take the 90+ minute car ride from the resort to Gros Piton and we started hiking.  (FYI, you are required to hire a guide when hiking Gros Piton.)  As we start up the mountain, it’s not that difficult.  We are easily talking with our guide and the mood is happy and blissful on this sunny summer morning.  We get to the 1/4 way mark and take pictures and drink water.  There are benches here but who needs them?!?  We are not tired!  We don't even sit down.  

sandals grande st. lucian sgsl #stlouistostlucia 1/4 way point on hike gros piton

Onward we go.   We hike further and get to the 1/2 way point.  AMAZING VIEWS!  Still not too difficult to this point, so the general mood is positive, happy, and in awe of the gorgeous landscape.  Could we have turned around here?  Yes.  Did we?  HELL NO!

sandals grande st. lucian sgsl #stlouistostlucia Gros Piton hike half way point

We carry-on.  Hiking the 3rd quarter of the mountain was significantly more difficult.  The path was very uneven at this point.  Our legs are burning now.  The fact that we are not able to make routine or rhythmic steps anymore is painful and leaves me more unstable than I expected.  There are very few railings (although since our trip they have installed many additional railings) and our legs are starting to scream nasty words at us!  We have taken drinks of water only at the rest-stops before but now we are constantly asking the guide “how much further until the next stopping point?” Because we are SO FRICKIN THIRSTY and completely out of breath.  Remember, it’s hotter than Hades the day we hiked!  We make it to the 3/4 point and are grateful for the opportunity to stop, SIT DOWN, and drink water.  The sweat has completely overcome us at this point.

 sandals grande st. lucian sgsl #stlouistostlucia hike gros piton sweat

We welcomed the rest because it was desperately needed but here is where hubby starts cussing and saying he doesn’t want to go any further.  My body is basically crying at this point and I understand why hubs wants to quit and in all honesty I wanted to as well BUT NO.  No way.  We have made it this far, I am definitely making it to the top—-with or without him!  So I convince him to stick it out and we start hiking the last 1/4 of the mountain.  It’s steep.  I mean, reallllly steep.  We are stepping over HUGE boulders, being careful of slippery tree roots, climbing up the muddy path that in many places is also covered with moss and the climb feels like we are going straight up instead of the gradual climb it had previously been.  Peeps, it’s not easy.  It’s not easy AT ALL.  In fact, it was beyond hard.  At this point every muscle below our belly buttons are YELLING at us.  Telling us to stop and turn around!!  Go DOWN the mountain, not UP the mountain!  The slippery path meant that we had to examine every step for our footing, we couldn’t just rely on it being a safe step each time.  My husband was literally (and I have this on video as proof) cussing that last 1/4 of the way.  You see, all those many weeks before our vacation when I was researching (stalking) everyone’s posts and I was telling him we needed to work out before our trip….remember that?  Yeah.  Well, although the hubs agreed to work out with me and was terrific about doing so, I don’t think he actually believed it was NECESSARY to work out to prepare for climbing this mountain.  And in fairness, in comparison of mountains, it’s not Mount Kilimanjaro or anything.  -But for us, it felt like Kilimanjaro.  Needless to say, with encouragement (ie: Many not-so-encouraging/friendly-words from me to him) we both made it to the top of the mountain.  At last!!!!   We finally had made it!  We were tired, sweaty, thirsty, numb….but at the same time we were excited, proud, happy, exhilarated, triumphant, and thankful!

sandals grande st. lucian sgsl #stlouistostlucia hiking gros piton uphill steep climb 

We took a bunch of photos and laughed and joked with our guide and one other group that was up there with us for a few minutes.  But after that group left, my husband and I sat on the edge of that mountain and simply stared out and enjoyed the view.   It was our 20th anniversary trip and we were sitting up with the clouds on top of a mountain on a gorgeous island looking at a 180* view of ocean and rolling lush mountains.  How in the world did we get here!?!?

sandals grande st. lucian sgsl #stlouistostlucia Gros Piton hike top of Gros Piton 2nd lookout 

We got there based on hard work.  Preparation.  Determination.  Patience with ourselves.  Encouraging (maybe sometimes yelling-ha!) at each other.  Life (and marriage for that matter) is like a mountain.  There will be parts that are easy and there will be parts that are hard.  There will be times when you feel like you are slipping/falling and times that you want to quit the whole damn thing!!   It’s easy to get lost in the craziness of the day-to-day routine/activities.  BUT what we figured out sitting on top of the mountain that day is……If you stick it out and put in the practice and the effort through the good times AND the really hard times, there is an amazing view of everything from the top.  

 

 sandals grande st. lucian sgsl #stlouistostlucia top of gros piton hike looking at petit piton

"The best view comes after the hardest climb." - Author Unknown

So true. So so very true.  

I will tell you that we rewarded ourselves with beer and (for me) a t-shirt at the bottom of the mountain because “Yayyy! We didn’t die!” (Thanks to Larry, our guide! He took great care of us!)

sandals grande st. lucian sgsl #stlouistostlucia Gros Piton hike Larry the guide souvenirs at gros piton

 sandals grande st. lucian sgsl #stlouistostlucia hiking gros piton Larry our guide

Also, we got to rinse off with a quick swim at Toraille waterfall before heading to The Beacon restaurant for an incredible lunch with an even more amazing view overlooking the Piton mountains and the town of Soufriere below!!  We just kept sitting there saying in disbelief "Holy crap!  We climbed that thing over there!"

sandals grande st. lucian sgsl #stlouistostlucia toraille waterfall gros piton hike

sandals grande st. lucian sgsl #stlouistostlucia soufriere the beacon restaurant gros piton hike real st. Lucia tours

**I want to add that I know many people put in the effort towards a marriage or a job or whatever-it-may-be and it still doesn't work out.  Kudos to those who try pushing through those difficult times to make a hard situation work.  Sometimes it doesn't work out and that's perfectly okay.  If you tried, there is nothing to be ashamed of.  Hold your head high and walk away in confidence knowing that you gave your all.  Your discipline and determination to fight through the struggle will pay off somewhere else down the road.  Trust in yourself and know that it will.**

You can see more of our photos from this fantastic trip posted on Instagram!  Search for #StLouisToStLucia.  Thanks for following this adventure!

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                                               ~Pickles and Punch

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