AcatenangoApril 19 in Guatemala
We started asking the different outfitters about the Acatenango hike for Jack. First one - 129$ US, but they don't leave until Saturday (we are Tuesday at this point). Next one - 89$, also only leaves Saturday. Better price, not better timing.
Finally we stumble upon Wicho and Charlie - a hostel which offers its own hike. 450Q, so 62$ and they offered free breakfast the departure morning, which the others did not! Now I know price shouldn't mean everything considering this is a big hike with lots of equipment needed, but we did read a couple reviews and they seemed just as well reputed as the others. Bonus - their Basecamp was already set up, so we didn't have to carry a tent like the other outfitters, score! In comes cute girl - telling me I'll regret not doing it, that it's easier then people make it seem, that if she can do it, I can do it... I didn't want to give in, considering I've regretted every hike I've ever done, but she spoke my language : "10 minutes into it, I wanted to turn around. I said fuck this. I tried to come up with an illness that would allow me to turn back. But I pushed through and it was so worth it". Sounds about right. So I signed up, and hired a porter named Balthazar to carry my backpack for me. I had a borrowed winter jack, hat, gloves and 6L of water in the bag! It weighed a tone! Lol. I loved that man, best 200Q I've ever spent.
Side note - we met this little Asian lady when hiking in the Maritimes on our last road trip - when we were walking up an incline (it wasn't crazy long) she was telling us about the power of meditation - she just looked at her feet and counted every step up to 10, starting over and over again. That allowed her to get into a trance like state and she could hike any mountain. She partially outran us and I gave her around 70 years old.
So her wisdom was utilized - on the day of the hike, I just stared at my feet, and kept putting one foot in front of the other. Kept my mind blank, unlike my usual thoughts of "fuck this, this is shit, I'm turning back". With Balthazar by my side, I actually did pretty good! Granted, it helped everyone around me was slowed down by their bags, including Jack who was carrying my 30L bag, with 2L of water, this borrowed whitish winter jacket and a few extra layers of clothing. That energy bunny though was unstoppable, encouraged me throughout, was always first in the pack, first to want to keep going, it was both impressive and annoying. :)
The average hiking time is 5 hours - we did in 4! They likely say 5 hours to make you feel proud when you arrive early, but who cares, 4 hours bitches! Balthazar did great - this 5 foot tall beer belly middle age man never broke a sweat, was barely ever winded. Says he does the mountain twice a week. Just ridiculous.
Got to the top - popped open my Coca Cola can I bought as my reward (well that Balthazar brought) and ate my awesome chocolate brownie (food supplied by hostel). Perfect reward for 4 hours of almost torture. Trick is - we aren't at the rim yet - just at basecamp. There's another hour and a half to go, but I won't have to worry about that until tomorrow.
As the sun set, the cold set. Slap on extra layers, zip up my gorgeous baby blue puffy jacket I borrowed, and sit close to the fire while the crazy energy bunny decided she didn't have enough and did the Fuego hike - an added 3 hour hike up the active volcano connected to ours for a closer look at the lava. Jokes on her - the clouds set in for the exact same time she was on this extra hike - she only got to see the lava once back at basecamp. I felt so bad for her, yet so happy with my decision not to go! Jack here: I loved all of it! Super proud of Freddie and myself for kicking ass. Even the Fuego hike was worth it!
Wake up at 3.45am they say. Walk up for sunrise they say. After a sleepless night, mostly kept awake by the cold and the rumbling of the volcano next door, 3.45am was no fun. But up we went to the summit - the worst 1.5 hour yet, steep uphill on volcanic rock on which every second step you slip back one. It was so insulting to work that hard to being your foot up for the next step only to loose progress because of the rocks. Shitty hour and a half. I started getting into my usual negative head space, so to try and get out of it I started using my one hiking stick with both hands singing over and over again in my mind "row, row, row your boat". It actually helped. Fyi - only 3 out of 6 of us did the summit hike, so extra points for me!
I'll let the photos speak for themselves as far as the view for camp and the summit. Final conclusion: Regret 2/10. Glad I did it.Read more