Few experiences compare with a hike under a big full moon. So of course I had to go when it involved climbing a 3,772 meter peak (12, 375 feet). We talked with the school about organizing a trip, since several students were interested. The plan was to start hiking around midnight on the full moon, sleep at the top of the mountain for an hour or so, and watch the sun rise in the morning.
We planned it for a Monday night, but true to form during rainy season it rained hard all evening before we were to leave. Our guide Miguel (or perro as we call him) decided to postpone to the next night. What started as a rainy Tuesday turned into a clear night (see pic above from top with cross in foreground). We took a pickup ride to the start of the hike - a Town called Llanos de Pinal. We started hiking in full moonlight around 12:30 am, climbing through meadows and cornfields above the Town.
We stopped to rest along the way, taking in views like the one above (Xela at night in the distance). The trail was more of a scramble at times, especially when it got steep and muddy. But we summited in 3.5 hours, basking in the views and freezing our asses (R rated version) off. The problem wasn´t the cold as much the wind and damp air. So we bunkered down behind some rocks and I ended up sleeping (kindof) under a blanket shared between a buddy and Perro. To stay warm we drank some tea, which is another story in itself. We had to buy a thermos before we left for the trip, and Krista and I spent the better part of an afternoon walking the local market trying to find a metal one. After finding one, then it was finding the tea that our host mother recommended (cherripeco) - but it was so worth it at the top. The sunrise somewhat muted by the cloud cover in the morning, but we could see volcanoes in the distance near Lago Atitlan and Antigua (150 km!).
We also got to watch eruptions from a volcano named Santiagueto, which was below the peak we were on. Visibility wasn´t great, but we saw ash rising in spurts and could see lava smoke along the edges of the crater rim. Here´s me in the foreground with socks on my hands (gloves are still in Denver) and ash plume in background.
We also amused ourselves between eruptions by watching some Dutch girls dance merengue while sharing Ipod headphones...I guess they were cold and bored. After an hour, we started the descent and made it out in 2 hours. Exhausted we made it to the bus stop for a chicken bus in Lllanos del Pinal. I slept for a couple hours when back in Xela before my Spanish class that afternoon - more tea consumed just to stay awake while learning the use of participios. Here´s a pic of the crew at the top: (L-R) Bryan (US), Perro (Guate), Rogier (Netherlands), Matthias (Germany), and Ben. Good times!
2 months ago