As we started taking one step at a time, the wind became so strong, extremely strong. I was starting to feel overwhelmed with the incline, the wind, the elevation, the injured soldiers, their stories, seeing all of the support and the many hikers, that I suddenly began having troubles catching my breath. I became emotional, turned to my husband and he saw my pain, my emotion. He pulled me to a side and I broke down. He hugged me and comforted me until I was ready. His encouraging words gave me more motivation to continue.
Throughout the hike, there is so much greenery all around, which made it look so beautiful. Make sure to look for the signs because there are several trails along this route and due to the many weeds overgrowing, some have even grown over the signs. In some places, it was very difficult to see the trail because of all the grown out weeds covering it. Highly recommend to wear pants and long socks to avoid all the weeds rubbing on your legs. The views along the way are spectacular!
We walked through several tunnels, some very short and others very long. Some were straight, in which we could see the other side of the tunnel while others were very long, super dark and we had to make sure we had our flashlights in order to see. Very cool inside, we felt the cold breeze but also the adrenalin was rushing in. We all stuck close together, talked throughout and laughed. Total we went through 10 tunnels and crossed over 5 trestles before approaching the largest and main one. We finally spotted the breathtaking bridge we had been looking.
We were moving at a steady pace, but had to keep taking a few snack breaks and drinking water to stay energized and hydrated. It took us about 4.5 hours to make it to the top. The weather kept changing along the way and was pretty warm throughout but once at the top it was pretty chilly!! The last mile of switchbacks is probably the hardest part. It really gets your heart pumping but if you just push yourself as much as you can, you will get there.
You will have to walk through was looks like sand tunnels and it is quite a cool experience. From there, you will continue on and possibly see a small waterfall on your left depending on the season. Then you will approach a rope hanging, to which you will pretty much have to repel backwards and safely to get to the bottom that leads you to the beach. It is amazingly beautiful. Team work is really needed for this trail. At this point, we were able to see the beautiful sunset and play in the sand.