Today we set up to climb El Cerro del Aripo, the highest mountain in the country of Trinidad and Tobago. It sure was an exciting climb! Because the road was in poor condition, we had to walk a ways to the trailhead. It took us a while to find the correct trail, but once on it we made good progress through the rain forest and up to the saddle between Morne Bleu and Cerro Aripo, often while walking through the pouring rain. From here, the route would become much more challenging.
There was no real trail to Cerro Aripo after the saddle, and it was all through really thick rain forest and pouring rain. There were also several steep and significant subpeaks to climb along the way. The route was somewhat marked with the occasional piece of flagging tape on the trees. The steep sections were extremely slippery, especially with the pouring rain. We were also completely covered in mud.
Along the way to the summit we saw many strange plants and flowers. We were also startled by a mountain crab. When the rain briefly would taper off, there were plenty of butterflies and bats as well. I had one huge caterpillar on my shoulder, and only noticed that it had stinging spines after touching it to brush it off.
We reached the summit right at 1 pm. There were no views in the thick rain forest and rain, but it was still really beautiful. Because we were pressed for time, we had a very quick lunch and then descended the mountain.
The climb back was even more slippery than the climb up and we still had to reclimb all the subpeaks, still in the rain. We also got off track a few times in the thick jungle.
We got back to the trailhead and rushed along the road on foot in order to not miss the ridge that was supposed to pick us up. We were a little late, but it wasn't a problem. It sure was a good climb.