Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Acatenango, we meet again

It's been almost a year since I wrote the last entry on this blog. Could there be something more shameful than that?

In any case, we started off the 2014 with a nice hike in one of the most beautiful mountains of Guatemala: Acatenango volcano. I've been there several times before, but this was different: we were not going to camp, we were going to come back on the same day. Something that we call "ir de asalto".

I was a little worried. In my mind Acatenango is done in two days, because is very tough and you need one day to climb and another day to get down. I was wrong, we were able to do it in few hours. Yes, few hours! I was very happy. I had something like six months without going out hiking. That makes you lose the little shape and resistance one can attain by going to the volcanoes regularly. However, the timing was great.

We started the hike exactly at 10 AM. Little after the old hollow tree or "árbol hueco" I was very tired. I started to lag behind my fellow hikers. At this point a plan took shape in my mind. I was going to get to the place called "El Conejo" and just rest and sleep there until my friends pass on their way back. We gather to rest a little before that in "El Conejito", a resting area which is bellow "El Conejo". We started to walk again. I was not feeling physically bad nor tired. I was just being lazy. Then it came: there was a new trail. We all followed the path to the right, it looked wider. We kept on going that way until we reached a point where it was obvious that we were not going in the direction leading to El Conejo. I took out my GPS only to assert that that was indeed the case. The trail was going in other direction and El Conejo was six hundred meters away in the opposite direction. So there it was. My plan for being lazy was ruined. So I just kept walking. I was not going fast but didn't stop for more than few seconds at a time to take some air. Eventually I got to the crater. I rested a bit, drank some water and ate some cookies.

The day was fabulous. No strong wind at all, few clouds, a magnificent view of the two summits. With that lovely scene, I started to walk again. I knew it was something like forty more minutes to get to the plateau. Finally I got there. I found the other guys and the very top. It was amazing. I was tired but very happy. It was 3 PM, I did it to the summit in five hours. Not bad for being my first volcano in six months. We took some photos and congratulate each other with the classical salute: "¡feliz cumbre!".

We stayed there about an hour, just admiring that wonderful view, laying on the ground, looking the clouds from above. It is a feeling of beauty, tiredness and accomplishment that I haven't experienced in no place else. Even Fuego volcano gave us a couple of explosions to admire. From the city they are soundless. From the Acatenango plateau, they are like hearing a jet plane at close distance. It's frightening and spectacular to see a huge cloud elevating so fast and coming in your direction.

The way back we did it in half of the time, 2.5 hours. We left the place and had a nice dinner in Antigua Guatemala, finally heading back to the city.

It was a pleasure to share one more hike to Acatenango volcano in the company of Eduardo Rubio, Herberth Arevalo, Rodrigo Llarena y Sundre.

Photo: Rodrigo Llarena

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