During my Avian Biology trip in Costa Rica my class would hike every day to enjoy nature and find elusive birds however, one hike in particular stood out from the rest. The purpose of this hike was to reach the lodge at the Karen Mogensen Nature Reserve. This hike occurred on day five of the program, and we were told by our tour guide that it would be the most challenging and longest hike of the whole two-week trip. For this hike, every person would have to carry two days’ worth of supplies and essentials because our suitcases couldn’t be taken along on the hike to the lodge.

The hike started out with us walking about 1.5 miles up a pretty well established dirt road that was relatively flat and easy going. However, since it was easy going people wanted to walk really fast. This resulted in some of us being already worn out before reaching the challenging portion of the hike. The challenging porting came when the road turned into a narrow trail with creek crossings and ever increasing elevation. With each increase in elevational came stairs which become ever more difficult while carrying our packs. Eventually, I came to a point where I would have to rest after each set of stairs due to fatigue. The hike became a struggle between my body and my determination to keep going.

After walking 4 miles and climbing up 886 stairs we had finally made it to the lodge. Although it was a true challenge and at times difficult for me, I felt much satisfaction when I reached the top. At the top we were greeted by a partly paralyzed cat named Tequila. Karen Mogensen was the most remote place we visited on our trip and the three days that we would spend there would prove to be the harshest conditions we experienced. However, I thought to myself that if a cat like Tequila could survive up here its whole life, I could easily make it through the few days we were there. Overall, I will never forget this hike not only because of how challenging it was, but because of the strength it allowed me to find within myself.