SundayWell, as a reward for no longer feeling sick and my finger no longer hurting as bad, we decided to go on a hike up the volcano. It was supposed to last 7 hours. In the States, those times are greatly conservative. In Central America, those times are pretty optimistic.
So, we rose early and prepared a backpack with water to leave by 7am. We finally left with a group and a guide at 7:30. We were warned it was a 5km hike up to the lake, and there was about 3000 ft elevation gain. The first part was deceptively easy; the path was staired and an easy slope. After a kilometer or so, the path lost the stairs and started climbing steeply. The tree-density increased, and the water on the ground as well. As we climbed higher, we entered the clouds that normally cloak the mountain, creating a cloud forest.
Walking through the cloud forest was interesting. It never really rained on us, but the water condensed on the leaves. Whenever there was a breeze or movement through the trees, big drops of water would fall down. Despite the lack of rain, there were puddles of water along the trail. With so many people climbing the path, the ground was quickly ground into a nasty mud. It was very difficult to avoid stepping in either it or the water and keep dry feet. Jonathan became very grateful for his waterproof hiking shoes, and I decided I needed to get a pair.
Towards the top, the path became ridiculous. If I hadn’t been in a group with a guide, I would not have continued up the path. There were areas where we literally had to use trees and vines to climb up a four-foot vertical embankment. And there where areas that were deceptively flat but with tons of small roots that were slicker than snot. I nearly fell several times going up.
We did see some interesting wildlife.
And at the top, we climbed down into the caldera where there was a small lake. At first you couldn’t see anything at all because of the clouds congregating there, but as we waited, a wind came up and cleared the area for a minute.
On the way down, between the exhaustion, mud, and water, it was as slow-going as it was going up. I actually did slip about 5 times. Did I mention that I am not very good at a going down? We finally arrived at the bottom at 4:30pm. We probably could have climbed up faster, but we were slowed by our group. And on the way down, Jonathan could have gone faster, but I couldn’t have. Our guide brags that he could climb to the top in 1 hour 10 minutes. Sounds like he pretty much runs up the path, I don’t know how he does it.
See how muddy and dirty I am? Especially the shoes. It took me two washes plus stain remover to get those stains out that shirt.
In fact, I think we must be going a bit insane. Maybe it is from the Insanity exercises or maybe it is the heat or maybe it just requires more work to see interesting sites the farther we get from the States, but we seem to be going on longer and more strenuous hikes as we go along. Previously, we would not even have considered going on hikes longer than about 3 miles, definitely nothing longer than 3 hours. Now we have been on two 10-km hikes with increasing elevations. Well, we definitely decided not to do Insanity that night either, we had already done 9 hours of cardio and strength.
MondayWe took things a bit easier on Monday. We got some internet to catch up on things. Internet on the island is slow and expensive. We paid US$2/hr for internet there at the hostel. Then we took off on an 2-km total hike along the circumference of the mountain (not vertically) to check out the petroglyphs near the hostel.
The petroglyphs were interesting. Very whirling and circular. Reminded me a lot of Gurren Lagann and its association with spirals (shout out to anime fans). Is there some relation?
After that we took off and chilled at Ojo de Agua for a couple of hours. They had constructed some pools out of a natural volcanic spring (cold not warm, though). The guy at the entrance informed us in an animated, entertaining voice about the alleged healing power of the mineral waters. I very much enjoyed the oration, Jonathan just thought he was crazy.
We planned to head out early the next morning on the ferry. I wanted to make sure we knew the procedure and the location, so we went in search of the ferry at San José del Sur (instead of Moyogalpa where we got off) to see the setup there. Interestingly, there was no booth or anything there. The ferry was there when we pulled up, so I got up and talked to the crew. They said that we could just show up in the morning and pull on the ferry. We would pay on the boat. We made reservations with them for the 7:30am trip and left for our next campground at Posada Chico Largo.