Ena. Three simple letters with so much meaning.

It was 4:30 am and the wake up alarm had gone off. I was just about to tackle what would be my biggest hike yet… a 32 kilometer, 3200 meter hike to what I would like to think is the top of Costa Rica. If conditions were perfect we would be able to see both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea at the same time… what a unique spot in the world!

So needless to say, I was all in!

hiking trail through the jungle of costa rica

Our hike would wind us through the Costa Rica jungle for 12 hours and give us the opportunity to explore five different Eco-systems as we transitioned through the region. The terrain was challenging though, and I quickly found myself in a very difficult position.

I couldn’t breathe. My asthma was bad from the first step. I’ve never dealt with this before. It sucked. I literally felt like my mouth was covered with a plastic bag and I was suffocating with every step. And every step got more challenging.

I had embarked on a journey and was only a few kilometers in. What was I to do? My ego trudged on… I can’t really call myself an outdoor family hiker if I can’t keep up on a hike. I certainly didn’t want to go back to camp 6 hours earlier than everyone else and have to explain why I couldn’t complete the task. My ego was screaming at my lungs… “Suck it up.”

My lungs however had their own agenda… and they were screaming at me to stop. They literally had stopped functioning and were only allowing little sips of air to pass. It was one of the worst feelings ever.

hiking guide in the costa rica jungle trails

Eduardo, one of our amazing guides was very supportive. He quickly saw me struggling and offered to carry my bag… an offer I had never had to accept before. Begrudgingly I handed it over, along with a big piece of my dignity.

He offered trekking poles too, which were an immense help. And after a few minutes of a slower pace and a lighter load I had decided that not only would I keep going past the halfway mark, but I would summit this damn mountain! My mom had faced her challenges yesterday (see her experience here!) and I was going to face mine today. 

guide showing local costa rican plant

One of the best parts of being at the back of the bus with the Biologists, is that you get to see and learn about a variety of plants and animals that you would otherwise walk past!

dung beetle in the costa rica jungle

Check out this Dung Beetle… she was about two inches tall and was hauling off this piece of dung to make a home in for her babies! So amazing!

group of hikers in the jungle of costa rica

With the terrain and the distance that we were covering, we needed to stop to refuel and fill up our water. We all loaded up on fresh, running water from the stream, which was delicious! I’ll have to admit, my peanut butter sandwich was equally delightful come lunch time!

two hikers on the Ena trail in Costa Rica

Seeing this sign meant that we only had a few more kilometers to go… we were on the home stretch and about to summit.

Summits don’t come often or easy for most people. I myself have only summitted two times… the reality is that reaching the top of a mountain is often very challenging, if not impossible. So each summit is often well-earned, and this would be no exception.

group of hikers at the top of Ena in Costa Rica

But after 7 hours, we made our way to the top! We were greeting by an amazing (and disappearing view). We all enjoyed another round of snacks, and a few anticipated selfies, and then it was time to begin the five hour trek back to camp.

hiker at the top of the Ena hike in Costa RIca

Thank you Ena… for reminding me about the value of humility. Thank you for reigniting my passion for hiking and reminding me that I need to keep training for hikes and can’t merely show up expecting to tackle a 32 kilometer hike with ease.

Until next time…
Jami

Don’t miss my blogs on Day One, Day Two and Day Three of my Run Like a Girl Adventure Retreat experiences!

Did you read about my Costa Rica Countdown and my longing to go on this adventure and what I felt was holding me back?