Saving up my cute kids stories because there are definitely a ton of them! But I wanted to share this past weekend's adventure (mostly the pictures!!) to Acotenango. After working three weeks straight of 24 hour shifts every three days I finally had a small break over the weekend (starting Thursday) to hike!
The rainy season here starts in May so I basically needed to get this volcano hiked or wait until the fall. I tried to go the week after Semana Santa but with the advent of my friend's visit, that plan was postponed. Since I was also postponing the plans of four other fellow volunteers, I count myself blessed that I didn't end up hiking this thing alone!
We set off the night before, spending the evening in Antigua and the night in a hostel that didn't quite cost ten dollars. I kind of feel like I'm doing in my thirties what most do in their twenties, but we all crammed into a little room and slept like the dead until 6 am when we loaded our gear and headed for breakfast. After breakfast we drove THROUGH the town we live in to reach the trail head. The guide was awesome and we were off and away almost immediately.
Including the five of us, the guide, two Israelis, one Australian and a guy from LA, there were ten of us. I'm not sure why an overnight hike up a volcano climbing to almost 4000 meters didn't sound like a lot, but I really had no trepidation. I figured I would be the slowest of the group and of the five of us from NPH I definitely was (don't try to compete with marathoners and 20 year olds...ever!) but I held my own with the four other people making the ascent. The scenery was breath-taking and honestly, I'm grateful my slow ascent allowed for me to take in the view!
We arrived around 3 in the afternoon and set up camp. The trip included a homemade pasta dinner and wine. We feasted around the campfire until almost nine and then piled, all five of us, into a tent where we attempted to sleep until 4:30am. All through the night the Volcano Fuego was belching and shaking our tent...but heroically we strove to sleep through it. Before sunrise the call came from our guide to arise. As we started up the last hour and a half climb to the crater, four of our group caved and headed back to the campsite, content to wait by the fire for sunrise. Only the five of us from NPH pressed on.
We finally arrived above the flora and fauna to lava rock and ash, walking single file (I was completely last and totally okay with that!) until we reached the summit. Ironically I had a lovely little black and while dog who accompanied me the entire way...still not sure who he belonged to!
I was the last to summit but still made it in time to see the sunrise. I was definitely feeling the altitude at the end, each step heavier than the last! The view was worth it and even though we were frozen in the wind, we stayed on top for at least half an hour, watching the sun come up over the Guatemalan world that lay before us.
On our way down we slid and slithered through ash and lava dirt. Fuego continued to erupt, giving us good reason to pause and watch as smoke lifted and filtered through the air. It was almost surreal, jurassic park and very Tolkien as we made our way down the volcano.
We reached camp and enjoyed a delicious breakfast before packing up and heading down. The worst part for me was putting that backpack back on but running on the adrenaline high, I was soon sliding down the mountain with the best of them.
This hike was definitely challenging but at the same time beautiful and worth the effort. At one point during the night we could see Fuego and Pacaya erupting simultaneously. Definitely something I will never forget! Or the sky, so full of stars and the milky way, stretching over the earth majestic and rich. God is such an artist and the world is a beautiful place...lol I have been blessed!