1001 hikes to do before you die. It was just my type of book, as an avid hiker and list ticker, so I snapped it up. Our next destination was the Cook Islands, and to my surprise, they had one walk featured from Rarotonga. It was rated easy. Perfect.
The walk was the Cross Island Track. The book said it was easy. Other people didn’t say much else about it. I assumed it was easy. And to me, easy means that Jake can easily complete the walk.
Spoiler alert: The walk was not easy. And it certainly wasn’t Jake appropriate.
We started walking the direction that most people do, starting in town and finishing near the waterfall. The walk is called the Cross Island Walk for a good reason, it cuts right through the middle of the island, and also offers an opportunity to climb the highest point – the needle.
Starting out was easy enough. We walked through vibrant green fields, past a herd of goats, scattering a few chickens, until we started to enter thicker and thicker rainforest. Soon the fields were long past us, and our path started to track onwards and upwards. The ascent was steep in some places, but the tangle of tree roots formed stairs of sort. It was at this point that Jake started to complain a bit, but he was easy enough to distract. We finally made it to the top, and Jake felt so proud and accomplished. We stopped here and ate our snacks and I laughed a little bit inside my head and everyone’s look of shock when they huffed and puffed themselves over the last few steps of ascent, made it to the top, and saw…. a 3 year old.
I felt so proud and accomplished. We made it to the top. And in record time too. And with minimal tears. I figured down would have to be easier, quicker, and I would be able to tick “hike across a country” off my list with ease.
The Gods must have heard my thoughts and decided to have a bit of fun with me. The hike became insane almost immediately. It instantly became muddy, slippery, narrow, and technically difficult. Technically difficult as in, needing to repel down vertical and muddy slopes using a rope or a vine.
As I completed each section with much, much difficulty I kept saying to myself “surely this is the last section like that…. it was rated easy… it was rated easy!”
The descent was mostly made up of narrow muddy tracks along ledges, and repelling down muddy slopes. It wasn’t easy. It certainly wasn’t easy with a 3 year old. But we made it. We made it with no injuries. The whole thing was an excellent exercise in listening skills for Jake. He did exceptionally well. I suppose he must have understood on some level just how high the stakes were.
Finally the crazy muddy descents ended and we emerged into a lovely flat section of rainforest with a meandering stream. Everyone’s spirits immediately lifted. A feeling of accomplishment washed over us all. Another group of hikers passed us, three guys and a girl in their early twenties. One of the guys turned to the girl which appeared to be his girlfriend and said “see, Jake did the hike without complaining.”
We finally emerged at the other side of the island; sweaty, tired, but feeling on top of the world. Although I would probably *not* recommend the Cross Island Track for young children, I am extremely thankful that I was able to make these memories with Jacob. The Cross Island Track was certainly memorable, although maybe not easy.