To Hell and Back Again (Again :/)

Okay, hopefully this works this time, as opposed to my losing the whole post I wrote about my trip up Volcano Acetenango!

Anyway, so after a week of being sick, I finally decided I had to be well enough to do the two day hike of the Volcano Acetenango. Mostly because I was sick of Antigua, and the extremely expensive party hostel (Roo’s) I had found myself stuck in.

So off I went to do what was definitely one of the hardest hikes I have done in my life, while still recovering from my cold. Seriously, I was hacking up flem the whole way up (charming I know). And to make matters worse, you have to carry all your equipment up yourself – including 4L of water, warm clothes, sleeping bag, bed roll and tent. To make matters worse, I was silly enough to volunteer to carry the 4 person tent in my pack. Not my brightest move, I’ll admit…

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Anyway, so off we went, starting at 2300m above sea level. Straight up. For three hours. And as you might be able to tell from the photo above, this was not a gentle incline. It had the calfs burning right from the start. And to make matters worse, at that altitude there’s not exactly much oxygen to breath.

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Fortunately we were able to stop and rest frequently – pretty much every half an hour. But I know I was cursing my charity with the tent within the first half hour.

After the first three hours, we stopped for a quick lunch, and then continued along a trail around the mountain that was thankfully more up, down and across; rather than up up up! Then there was the final half hour slog straight up to the campsite, where we were at least greeted with an amazing view.

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That’s Volcano Agua in the photo above. And further to the right is Volcano Feugo, which is highly, highly active. As in, blowing its top every ten minutes. And when it gets dark, boy does it put on a show!

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So all night we were treated to explosions and booms as lava erupted from the volcano opposite us. Absolutely one of the most incredible views imaginable, and the photos do not do it justice.

Of course, by this time we were also at about 3500m, so it was also freezing. Despite the fire, we all retired to the relative warmth of sleeping bags and tents very early, and listened to each boom of Fuego as we drifted off to sleep.

Then, at 4am in the morning we were up again, ready to tackle the final climb to the summit.  It was absolutely freezing. I wore everything warm piece of clothing I owned, and it still took a bit to warm up on the hike (straight up again, of course). And the final half hour was by far the most brutal part of the whole hike. Nearing the peak, the ground turns to fine gravel, so that for each step you take, you slid back half of it. That was the point where I almost threw up. Luckily  I decided to sit down and rest instead.

When I finally got to the top, I was hit by the wind. It cut straight through my jacket and warm layers and left me freezing. But I guess the view was worth it. Maybe, still debating that one!

From there though, the bright side was it was almost all downhill. And the gravel slope made for great fun going down. All you had to do was jump. You’d fly a couple of metres down, land and slide another couple of metres, and then jump again. A little nuts at 4000m, but better than picking your way down!

The rest of the way I half-ran/half-jogged, which was easier than taking it slow. Unfortunately it also all but finished my legs, which turned to jelly after the two hour decent.

Guess I won’t be doing anymore big walks for the next few days!

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