Location: Little Harbor, Jost van Dyke

Today was the day we had been dreading for the last ten days (or more) – day 15. On day 15 we were told we would be hiking the tallest mountain in the BVIs, Mount Sage. After having Lacey wake me up by pulling my legs and ripping the sheets off my tired body, I heard lots of grunts and yawns from all of my shipmates. Once off the dingy, Mike gave all of us (everyone in AQ and Lifeworks goes on this hike – all of us suffer together; as one) a quick talk about directions, safety precautions and some useful advice for the hike. He said pretty blatantly that it was long, steep, tiring, hard and rough. I think at that point I was already done with the hike and we hadn’t even started yet. Mike told us that the hike is a lot like life; it has hills and flat parts, times where you feel that you can’t go on anymore, but you need to because you need to achieve your goal of finishing. I started the first bit near the front of the group, and after about 5 minutes, I found myself towards the back. The hike was exactly as Mike had said it would be, long, hard, rough, steep and tiring. In my opinion, I feel that a hike (or anything in general) should be a challenge and that nothing should be too easy for you or it wouldn’t be worth it to finish. I think I stopped a couple of times to rest on the way up, and I soon found myself knowing none of the people I was around, but then I got to know others through conversation in regards to the hike and how all of us were in the same pain. It was quite embarrassing because I was so winded in the first half hour and we had more than an hour of hiking left to get to the top. It started to rain a little bit around the midway point which was pretty nice considering that I was sweating a lot and it was refreshing. Around the top of it, we would pass people who were faster than us that were already on their way down, and they would say stuff like, you’re almost there! Keep going, which was nice encouragement, but I still wasn’t at the top yet. Once I arrived at the top I felt like I had accomplished so much, I was proud that I had stuck with it when others had quit on the way up (which was a thought that had crossed my mind A LOT). We signed our names in a book and recorded our times and numbers. I was 116, and I finished at 9:13 (I think.) Once down, we walked through the town feeling pumped that we just finished this major hike. We were able to order burgers and ice-cream and other fatty foods to fill ourselves up with, which was great after that hike. I even got a bit of my hair braided by a local islander. She was so fast at it; I asked her how long she had been doing this kind of thing and she replied that she learned to do it when she was four by her mother. She also has a photo album of everyone’s hair she has done and looking through it, some of the photos dated back to the early 2000s, which I thought was pretty neat. After being dinghy-ed back to our boats, we all prepared for the sandcastle competition between boats. Our boat had ideas that wavered between building SpongeBob and Patrick to a sea turtle (which, according to David, is mainstream) and then to an actual sandcastle. We went with the sandcastle idea. We had no plan for it and went into the competition blind. We ended up with a large outside moat and a small inside moat and a castle in the middle; connecting the two moats were causeways which had bridges over them, it was pretty cool. Half our boat did this while the other half dug a giant hole in the sand. Later that night we went to a BBQ at Sydney’s Peace and Love. There were excellent food and fun music. There were shops where we could all browse (and even bargain prices with them.) The ladies there braided almost everyone’s hair, even the guys. I got one more braid, so now I have two.