Flying High
A Warning and a Dream Come True

May 30 – June 2, 2016

We take some rest days, and an overnight camping trip, followed by more rest days to recover from the awesomeness … and the food poisoning?

What happened…

Andrew writes: We’ve only been back on the bikes for a few days and already we’re aching to take a day off. Perhaps it’s all of the climbing we’ve done since leaving Cd. Cuahtemoc. Did you know that we crossed the Continental Divide again? Yeah, after about the 10th time it seems to lose some meaning for me, especially because I haven’t gotten any badges, ribbons or medals in the mail lately for having done so. Amanda and I took a go at hiking while we were here and so we booked an overnight camping trip at the top of nearby Volcan Santa Maria. The outfit that is organizing it all provides everything we need, but I’d rather use most of our own stuff. I was happy to let them borrow me an 80L back pack, since I can still remember what it was like shlepping our stuff up Mount Robson last year. Amanda used my 40L pack. The hike itself was about 5-hours I think, to climb 1,500m over 5km. That’s a lot of fives eh? Even packing light, I’m glad that we brought things like our collapsible chairs to sit on, and all of our cold-weather clothing. It got pretty chilly up there in the fog and rain at 3,200m. The fog went away in the evening and the views looking down on Xela were really nice. Our guide Rudy was really patient with our Spanish, and I was happy to let him do all of the cooking. He does this sort of thing five days a week! Oh man, my feet hurt just thinking about it. In the morning we rose before the sun and just marvelled at the beauty of it all. And then, nearby Volcan Santiaguito erupted! Not necessarily like clockwork, but it erupts quite often, sending plumes of ash and gas high, high into the atmosphere. It was a really special moment, despite what you might overhear me saying on video.

Then we needed a day off to rest and recover, and Amanda had some sort of stomach bug which turned into two days of recovery overall. S’alright, Xela is a lovely city and I really enjoyed cycling or walking around it and talking to the locals, and to the expats alike. If it had an ocean, I’d think that I was back home in Vancouver, what with being surrounded by all of the mountains and everything.

Amanda writes: This area and the few days we spent here have been wonderful. I enjoyed walking around the City and watching the local indigenous folks. It’s amazing to me how much stuff they can carry on their heads. That and their animals too are loaded to carry as much as possible. We included a couple of pictures and there are so many more that we could include too.

The hike was quite pretty. The landscape changed a lot as we climbed. It started with lush green farm lands and then moved into well treed areas before it became quite steep. The summit was lovely once the cloud cleared. It was also very interesting to see how many locals climb the volcano to worship and pray at the top. In the middle of the night a group of men were singing (quite beautifully) hymns. Later in the night it turned into emotional chanting which was a bit weird but they were nice enough. There were also families of three generations of locals climbing in their dresses, heeled shoes and baskets on their heads. It was here that I felt a little silly with my fancy backpack and climbing gear.

We shared a tent with our guide which wasn’t as weird as I thought it would be initially. I was a little disappointed that he didn’t speak more English because we were told he would. In the end it just meant it was an opportunity for us to practice more Spanish. In the morning he showed us the top crater of the neighbouring volcano but he didn’t mention it would most certainly erupt. Had I known that I would have paid more attention. We didn’t really miss it but it would have been cool to see it blow from the crater. In any event it was a wonderful experience and I know we are very lucky to have seen it blow. I was amazed at how dirty the eruption is which now makes sense because it is just rocks blowing up. Looking back now I don’t know that I would recommend paying for a guided tour. There are so many people doing the hike that the locals can point you in the right direction. Also there are tourist police at the base to make sure that those going up register themselves. I suppose we hired a guide just to be safe and make sure we knew where we were going and to prevent being robbed. And it’s easy for me to say I don’t think it’s necessary to hire a guide because nothing happened. In any event it was good. We paid about $200 for the guide and it included meals so overall I suppose it was wise but if you’re on a budget I really think you can make it without a guide.

After the hike we were so unexpectedly sore. We were both left feeling like we are cyclists who ride daily and our legs are strong. But clearly you use different muscles for hiking because for the following two days we could barely walk. Then when I got sick I even had a hard time getting to the toilet. I can’t remember the last time I was that sick. I really did spend the entire day going to and from the toilet to the bed and it was awful. I don’t even think I felt that bad with the Zika virus. Andrew was very supportive and forced some dehydration medicine in my system since I couldn’t keep anything down. Fortunately one full day on the toilet managed to get it out of my system.

Today’s Photographs

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Flying High
A Warning and a Dream Come True