Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.
|The View Atop El-Hoyo
|Overhead Shot of El Hoyo
|With my Nicaraguan co-guide Erland
Our crew was strong but we lost one about half way. One of the Dutch girls just could not carry her pack any longer. She was shattered. We took her aside into the shade and had her drink as much water as she could. We took all what she had from her pack and divided it between myself, Erland and Erin, an Aussie who was strong on the trail. After a 15 minute rest she felt good again. Hydrated, a small snack and an empty pack she dug down deep and carried on. As we walked we all took turns talking about Epic Fails we have each had on various hikes. These stories and constant water breaks kept everyone one of our sweaty, out of breath and now dirty selves closer to the first ridge.
|Reaching the first ridge
Seriously, I recovered pretty quickly but could feel my heart pounding away. Knowing that was the case for everyone we took the next hour at a steady pace again stopping often for water and pictures. Hiking/trekking these types of trails is a bonding agent like no other. There are knowing looks, big smiles, high fives, back pats and quiet "how you doing" from everyone. I find it a very interesting experience to be a part of from both the leadership and the client side.
|Camping on the crater
Today's tents are fast and easy to set up and camp was ready in about 20 minutes. You could feel the decompression happening with everyone. This was a challenging first day but the day was not over. Not just yet.
|A well deserved chance to take in the view
If you go back and look at the top picture from this post, the 180 degree shot that is the view we were engrossed in. If you look to the right
you will see the mountain and to its left you will see the lake. That is tomorrows hike.
Tonight we have a sunset hike to manage. With tired legs rested we regrouped for our final accent to the summit.
|Up to the Sink hole
Our first stop, the sink hole. Sitting about 500 metres directly above our little campsite this jaunt was no walk in the proverbial park. It was steep, I mean holy crap steep but we forged on as one determined bunch. The sinkhole has scientists baffled. There is no trace of water and no reason for it to be there but nobody has an answer as to why it formed. It's wide that's for sure but not as deep as you would imagine, maybe 50 metres or so but it was impressive enough.
Next stop, the summit at Sunset
As with any good trek it some parts were soul crushing shirt soaking difficult. It is when you reach the summit you can pat yourself on the back for a job well done. That is if your shoulders are not so sore that it is impossible to lift your arms. This was no Everest so there was no rush to get down before nightfall and certain death. What I did observe was that for about 20 minutes it got real quiet with everyone keeping to themselves. Some were wandering around, some sat down others just stood quietly as we watched the sun sink through a hazy sky. As I was silently reflecting on what we had just accomplish I suspect the other were as well so I let them be.
As the sun set we turned on various headlamps and torches and heading back to camp. Dinner was being prepared by Erland and the wolverines were hungry. We devoured a pasta and vegetable dinner with hot tea around a now roaring campfire. With the sun firmly set the sky started to light up with the most incredible amount of clear sky stars imaginable. We devoured our dinner in laughter about the day and talked about being ready for bed. After all it was 6:30!!
|A steam vent reminding us of who is really in charge
Topping off the 5 million start dinner were roasted marshmallows. I do not care how old or grumpy or tire or whatever you are. If you put a marshmallow on a stick and roast it over a campfire you loose all inhibitions and every marshmallow you ever roasted becomes a childlike story with with smiles and joy. Reaching the summit and the views caused moments of self reflection but the marshmallows..oh man the marshmallows. Sunrise was at 6:00 and first light around 5:15 so it was light out around 8:30 for everyone. I had the duty as alarm clock wake up guy. I fell asleep in about 30 seconds.
|Momotombo at Sunrise
There was to be no rest as we had a long day ahead. After a solid breakfast of oatmeal, raisins and nuts we broke camp and started our decent down the backside of El Hoyo with memories firmly locked into place. Now it was time for a swim.
Yes that is indeed how far we trekked. Down a steep rocky backside and into the lush forests of the valley. Once down the trail was a bit trick in places but not difficult. It we delightfully cool atop El Hoyo and with each step we were reminded that that was a distant memory. On went the bug spray, the sun block, the hats and bandannas and down went gulps of water. Here we go. Uneventful in of itself we reached Laguna Asososca, the crater lake of low lying Volcan Asososca in about 4 hours. The water was warm and washed away 2 days of dirt, sweat, bug spray, lotions and blood. Mother Nature in co-operation with Volcan Asososca has one more sneaky trick up their sleeves. As we lolled in the warm waters with no cares in the world a few odd shrieks came form the dutch girls. "The little fish are biting my toes". Once the shock wore off and being the optimists that travelers are they just relaxed and with big grins "well we have to pay for this back home". (I just checked an yup, people pay to have fish nibble old skin off their feet. News to me). Now of course we all had to try it. The water was clear and you could see these little guys slowly swimming up to your feet. It was such an odd experience. The first nibble and of course you jump (and scream like a 14 year old girl) and scare them all away. The determined little buggers come back and you just settle in for a few minutes as they peck at your toes. Then they get bored and are gone. The things we do!
Back on shore we had Quetzel veggie burritos, geared up and headed to the main road. From there we caught a chicken bus to La Paz and transferred to another bus to Leon. There were thank you's and hugs all around. This is going to be a pretty decent way to spend my time here in Nicaragua!
Score to Date
Nicaragua Volcanoes climbed: Cerro Negro, El Hoyo, Asososca, Cosigüina