|Looming Acatanango: Do not let the serenity fool you|
Loaded with my stuff, a sleeping back, tent gear, and food, snacks and water I was raring to go. The pack weighed less than my pack on the El Hoyo hikes but this was to be a 5 hour uphill battle. For those in the know, think the first hour of El Hoyo but for 5 hours.
|Porters with their horses, dogs and kids along for the ride|
Packed and loaded off we went. There was no slow easy start to this trip. From the trail head at the road the trail went up and kept going up. As expected the first hour or so was volcanic sand. Deep and sloppy but manageable. I had brand new FILA hiking shoes that I purchased in Leon and I am happy I did. A few in our group were using sneakers which were fine. There were no volcanic rocks to climb over so to speak, it was all trail. However the sneaker users were prone to slipping without good treads to hold them in place.
|With Marcus and Tom (England 1 and England 2) during one of our many rest stops|
As we climbed we started getting fantastic views of the surrounding countryside and volcanoes. A full string of them along the fault line similar to the string in Nicaragua. These bad boys were much higher as shown when they were peaking over the cloud cover. The most prominent was Volcano Agua which is the monster that you see form Antigua. Adding to the excitement we could hear the rumbling and banging of Fuego which was still hours away and around the backside of Actanango. We were constantly reminded of how active Fuego was and little did I know then what our guide Jose (yes a Spanish guide names Jose) meant when he said active. I mean I spoke of volcanoes being active all the time but this was going to be different.
|Catching my breath at 3000 metres with Agua looming in the background|
I was walking 20 or 30 feet at a time then resting for a few seconds. If I did something dumb like tie my shoes and come back up too quickly the results were a spinning world...so I did that often as it was kind of fun
|A group of exhausted happy hikers acting up at camp.|
|Fuego welcoming us to our campsite|
|Curled up around the fire with a front row view of Fuego|
6:30 and we had to break camp for the hard down hill hike. I have experience the toe and knee pain you get from hiking downhill for a long time and this was no different. We started at 8:00 and made the trail head by 10:30. Five hours up, two hours down. There were times a few of us actually ran down because it was easier believe it or not. There was a cold beer waiting for me when the pickup van arrived and it was well deserved. If you are going to hike a volcano in Central America and only have time for one hit up Acatanango. It was difficult, at times cold and abusive (kind of like the Toronto Maple Leafs) but the rewards outweighed any of that. I am writing this post 3 days after the trek and my thighs are still unbelievably sore. You always say "sore in a good way" but there is no "good way" when you are climbing down the steps of a bus and need both hand rails hitting one step at a time, grunting each step along the way.
Breaking up is hard to do so I will be quick about it. My dear Cerro Negro, El Hoyo, Asososca, Telica, Momotombo, San Cristobal and Coseguina. We flirted and we had some moments. I must tell you that you have been replaced. Acatanango and Fuego have stolen my volcanic heart. Keep doing what you are doing dear 7 volcanoes of Nicaragua, you are amazing and will continue to great things.
I think I have been on the road too long. I just broke up with a volcano...or a group of volcanoes.