The Triple Trek
Several years ago, Dave Martin sat across from me and said, “Wouldn’t it be great to hike to the highest peak of Haiti as a fundraiser to help finish the hospital?” I love crazy fundraising ideas, and so I said, “That would be awesome!”
After a couple of delays in planning, in early 2017, the research, fact-finding, team building, and fundraising started in earnest. As God pulled together the details, people, and fundraising, it started to become a reality. Our team included a variety of people – from an Ohio organic farmer to a Virginia pastor to Butler and Purdue students to a Chicago telecom guy – all making a commitment to Triple Trek.
The Original Goal
10 people committing to hike three days in Haiti to raise $30,000 with summiting the highest peak, Pic La Selle, of 8,800 ft. The $30,000 would help Haitian Christian Outreach finish the surgical addition (8,500 sq. ft.) of Peredo Community Hospital.
It seemed ambitious, kind of crazy, and exciting! By mid-to-late October, we had 12 people committed – including two HCO board members – and everyone was knee-deep in fundraising. The team pushed the goal to $50,000 instead of the original $30,000 for the hike. Airline tickets were bought and more intense training started. With every weekly email and video meetings, the anticipation in our team grew!
Dave Martin, Richard Hodges, Cameron Mayhill, Abby Martin, Chuck Hodges, Randy Berger, Jon Widmer, Sara Hoshaw, Kylie Stine, John Stine, Emma Connell, Ashley Rizenthaler, Dr. Jackie, Onys, Tiben, and Sony.
As we started out on the morning of March 10th from Furcy, Haiti, I was amazed that it had all come together and was actually happening. We were on a four-day journey (3 days of hiking and one rest day) to help complete the surgical phase of Peredo Community Hospital!
We had a local guide set to lead us on a shortcut through rich farm fields to the main path to Seguin. The goal of day one was to hike from Furcy to Seguin (3,000 ft. to 5,500 ft.) where HCO has a church, school, and small guesthouse.
Starting around 7:30 a.m., we knew that we were in for a full day of hiking! The first few hours of adrenaline and excitement burned off as the group climbed up and down a rocky “road” past different vistas, homes, donkeys, little kids playing, soccer matches, and motos transporting everything from people to local products that were headed to market. Blisters started to form on the feet of a few people, and leg muscles started to burn as the climbs kept going up and the descents were a steeper grade down. The clouds were nice, but when they parted the sun scorched our skin and made for more frequent water breaks. It also had us call in more water from a friend in Seguin as the group was guzzling through the water.
I had read about “the long last hill” before you get to Seguin. When I saw it, I knew that we had one last push. We all paused, and the excitement grew before we did our final descent and what seemed like the longest hill that I had ever climbed. The wind picked up and the hiking was just plain brutal. At the top of the hill, our Landcruiser and driver, Loubens, was waiting on us. The cheering began as the first people made it to the top. 17 miles – 10 hours – Day 1 completed! What an amazingly difficult day! It was just a precursor for the next three days.
Sunday was a nice and needed day of rest, worship, and playing with the kids. We worshipped with our church in Seguin that morning. And several of us finished the day with a worship time under the stars! What an awesome day!
As day dawned on Monday in Seguin, the team crowded into two Land Cruisers for the “2 hour” bumpy ride to Mare Rouge where we would start the hike! Three hours later, we arrived at Mare Rouge. After some negotiations with the director of the National Park, we had a quick breakfast and hit the trail with two guides and a lot of excitement from the team! For the first 2.5 hours we had a nice hike down a “vehicle-sized” path of dirt and pine forest coverings. It was the perfect temperature for the hike! Everyone was in a great mood.
As we stopped for lunch, it seemed like we shouldn’t be too far from the summit of Pic La Selle. Well, unfortunately that wasn’t very accurate! After lunch, we started off cross country with not much of a “trail” to be spoken of. The thorny aloe plants started cutting into our legs and arms as we kept climbing up and then down as we increased elevation with each climb. The elevation change and hiking zapped our strength and slowed our pace. As I hung out at the back of the team, I would ask our guide: “Is that our peak?” He would say, “No, it is further. It is past that mountain.”
As Pic La Selle came into view, we were all excited and nervous! We still had about a mile to go and the last quarter was straight up to the top of Pic La Selle. Legs burning, out of breath, wanting to stop…we all pushed on and on! As feet slipped on the rocks and the team struggled, shouts of encouragement could be heard up and down the trail. We were going to make it!
As everyone summitted Pic La Selle at 8,800 ft., cheers, tears, hugs, and high-fives flowed freely! The view was magnificent! Only 3 to 4 groups do this each year, and ours is the first to do it as a fundraiser! We took pictures and then spent time praying to the God who created this mountain and this awesome experience!
It was 5:30 p.m. when we summited, and the sunset was happening at 7:00 p.m. As we scrambled down the mountain, we almost finished the “treacherous section” before it got dark. Headlamps came out, and we hiked for 2 more hours before arriving back at the “vehicle-sized path” where our Land Cruisers came out to pick us up. We ate a quick dinner at Mare Rouge and then piled into the vehicles for a “2 hour” ride back to Seguin. I heard several say that this was the hardest day of their lives, and I would have to agree. 17 miles – 9 hours of hiking – Pic La Selle summitted – Day 2 completed!
After a very short night, we packed up all of our gear in Seguin and sent all the larger pieces with the Landcruiser as the team set out to complete the Triple Trek by hiking from Seguin to Peredo.
The legs weren’t fresh, but the spirit was willing. The third day was hard as blisters from the day before combined with the increasing heat. Hiking on rock and asphalt made feet hurt even worse for most of the team. Going from 5,400 ft. to 250 ft. elevation meant the temperature went from 70 degrees to 95 degrees as the day wore on.
The team did well as we stopped for breaks and enjoyed short visits with locals. Bread, lunch, and water breaks also included blister taping and management. Dr. Jackie even stopped to talk with a pregnant lady about delivering her baby at the hospital. Most people wanted to know what we were doing, and Onys, Sony, Tiben and Dr. Jackie were always eager to share with others what we were doing and why. Our Trek made an impression on many along the route.
The terrain went from rocks to asphalt as we hiked down one of the main roads to the HCO campus in Peredo. The beauty of the trip, combined with the physical, emotional and spiritual challenges, culminated as the team entered camp around 5:30 p.m. 16 miles – 7.5 hours – Day 3 completed!
Exhausted, the team collapsed that night and then spent the next few days doing construction and playing with the kids around Peredo before returning to the US. This was an amazingly difficult, but God-honoring effort! And to commemorate it, on the last night of the trip, we presented each Triple Trek hiker with this tin medallion, handmade by a local Haitian tinsmith from the logo of the trip. We hope it inspires them to remember all God has done on this wonderful journey!
12 team members
50 miles hiked
$81,077 raised (as of 4/9/18)
Lives changed for eternity through completing the surgical phase of Peredo Community Hospital
I think Butler student, Sara Hoshaw summed it up the best:
“Words don’t even begin to describe this incredible adventure we have experienced this past week. God’s hand was in every detail, and the new level of sacrificial love, trust, patience, and faith leaves me absolutely speechless. To think that the Maker of these mountains that we climbed also came to this earth to love each of us is amazing…”
by Cameron Mayhill
US Director & Triple Trekker
photos from Triple Trek team members