To date. I have guided the El Hoyo/Asasosca 2 day trek 6 times and the Cerro Negro Volcano Boarding trip 8 times. I think I mentioned before with Cerro Negro we climb up and go down twice each trip so I have climbed that puppy 16 times. All this has been done since December 11th. This week will be exciting as on Thursday I am heading to Telica for the first time for the sunset trek. Telica is very active volcano. The crater is impressive and the views and the sunset are superb as anywhere. The hike itself is not difficult but a new volcano is always exciting.
What mother nature has done to my shoes and hiking shorts is another story all together. The scree of Cerro Negro has ripped apart my Merrells and the sun plus hiking has literally worn and torn my shorts. I have another month or so of guiding but I do not think the shorts are going to make it. The shoes have worn down to the point that when I am hiking down my toes are getting crushed. On the upside when we reach the lagoon as Asososca I jump in and my feet throb in relief. We then repeat the process the next week. I did buy a pair of new/used hiking boots at a local shop and have been breaking them in. However the last thing I want is to have new shoes on a hike that blister me up, so Merrells, keep doing your thing my old friends.
|Brand new Docker shorts and Merrell hikers literally worn to shreds
|Sunrise on Momotombo
As we were staring up again I could hear the girl who got sick say with every step "I can fu**ing do this, I can fu**ing do this". The human spirit was alive and well in the squeaky voice of a 19 year old girl who just threw up and was determined to get to the top of the volcano. The younger sister had banged her leg a couple times on rocks as she tripped so she was not having the best start. We cleaned up the cuts and with the same spirit through tears of pain then anger she got up and pushed on.
To climb Cerro Negro usually takes 45 minutes. There were a couple from the States at 77 years old. He was a bit over weight but you could see was strong as an Ox. She had 2 knee surgeries last year and the scars were visible. They would not be deterred. Walk, stop breathe, Walk stop breathe. We found their patterns and 90 minutes later, through a very windy hike we had the at the top gearing up for the ride down. With huge smiles they hit the Cerro Negro like teenagers screaming and laughing all the way down.
You have to be careful as excitement can turn to exhaustion. Another American who told us he was out of shape started up Cerro Negro and you knew he too was going to struggle. We reached the first lookout/rest stop and he looked terrible. White a sheet and sweating more than he should be. When he laid down to rest and had no thought of getting up any time soon it was time to take this a bit serious. His pulse was racing more than it should have been, he had not drank enough water and had a few to many beer the night before. I sent the rest of the crew up while I monitored him and was on the fence about sending him back down. When he finally caught his breathe and got some colour back I sat him up and made him drink a litre of water. I then stood him up and he drank a litre more. We took a few steps forward. He showed some strength and balance and the colour had returned so off we went, slow and steady. He made it to the top at a decent pace and was excited as a kid at Christmas when he got there. As he said, he would have been disappointed if he could not make it but would have respected my decision to send him back. He also jumped on the board and laughed the entire time down the hill. Once at the bottom he literally had tears in his eyes, grabbed me in a bear hug and thanked me. How can this not be a great way to live ?
|Our chariots await
This day was different. While sitting and waiting for our transport home after our hike I was chatting with a few mid 20s Canadians, Lana and Scott. We chatted along the trail and they were open, friendly and funny. We talked about travel, books, music, politics and personal histories and sports. They asked "what year I was born" which is less intrusive than "how old are you?" and you have to respect that. Then generic "what I did before", "where have I been?" etc. Then out of the blue Lana asked, "why do I live like I do?". It was a variation of all the questions I have been asked but what struck me was both the simplicity and honesty by which it was asked. I really did not think about the answer and out came "It makes me a better person". That surprise the shit out of me. I then proceeded to get into some depth about my answer but the simplicity and honesty of the question allowed me the simplicity and honesty of the answer. Lana replied with "that is a great answer" and smiled. No judgements no more questions. It was a quality moment. And with that I feel I have reached a new level of self spirituality and openness while on this journey. (I will reach out to both Lana and Scott for a picture and permission to use it as a thank you)
Keep it simple and keep it honest. It's really starting to work for me
|A surprise night lava flow on Apoyeque, just below Momotombo