We rested there for a while, both exhausted from the efforts. We realised we were equally drained from the adrenalin and a kind of fear of what we had got ourselves into. Then we both smiled at each other and burst out laughing.
We had emerged about half way along the lions back and the pathway formed the ridge. We got glimpses down the far side of the hill, and the roar of the ocean bashing against the barrier reef was prevalent. This ridge was relatively level for a few hundred metres, but then it started to rise again. The pathway became more exposed and as we reached the lion’s neck we were once more clambering rather than walking. There was no shelter up here and the wind ripped across the bay onto the path. We found a little nook where the pathway negotiated a boulder and we dropped down behind it to have some snacks and water. The wind was too strong to stand up and look at the 360 view, but we could see looking back down the lion’s back that there was a squall of rain rushing straight towards us. We realised the pathway above us was open to the elements and we would be blown off or drenched off the hillside. We’d had enough wild experiences that day already. So we decided we would crouch down as best we could behind the rock, let the shower past and then descend the traditional route.
It was only a short shower, but it was cold and penetrating. It chilled my skin and made me sneeze, and the following wind cooled me further. We had to move to stop me getting hyperthermia so started down. The pathway was now made more difficult by being wet and slimy. I don’t remember seeing the actual place where we had first emerged on to the path; Martin and I kept trying to remember whether we had walked on some sections to gauge where we turned off. It was obviously a longer way down than we thought; indeed it must have been only just before you turn over the lower haunches of the lion and start the steep descent. We found the concrete steps; not in perfect condition but very firm and walkable. The white strip of concrete was laid out in front of us in a straight line right down the ridge. We should have thought this is how the pathway could be easily placed rather than try and scramble up a side scree. The last step fell short of the ground and we had to jump down, but it was right on the fence and below us was the sugar cane fields. We could see the course of the river that we had followed on the way up marked by large trees over to our right, and saw a cane track that led straight over there. indeed if we had taken the second of the forks ,it would have been a very short walk over to the mountain bottom and we would have avoided all the stress of scrambling up the scree. And to rub salt in it when we looked back to where we climbed up was only a couple of hundred metres away from the proper pathway. Just goes to show how disorientated you can be in cane fields.