Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Volcano Pacaya

While we're on the topic of volcanoes, I have plans to climb Acatenango and spend the night the 21st (this weekend). Acatenango overlooks Fuego (they are right next to each other). I'm hoping for a little activity that maybe during the night I'll see some red/orange flares. 

This hike is 4-6 hours (am guessing closer to 6 for me) and climbs I think 1500 meters to 4000m (roughly 5,000 feet and 13,000 feet respectively). I've hired a porter so that I'm not trying to also do this with 40+ pounds of gear. But I'm still nervous. As I've said before, I'm a slow hiker and I'm guessing the other people will be super fit 20 something's. 

There is another volcano, Pacaya. For $10, you can get there and be guided up (plus the $8 park entrance fee). A lot of people do this option. You can do it in half a day, only an hour or so climb up and there are horses available to ride if you're having trouble hiking (for a fee of course). 

There are overnights on Pacaya advertised but they are much rarer. So I decided to use Pacaya for some practice/training.  

Here we are at the top and some guy from another group is trying to stand on his horse for a photo op. (Side note: He was from Wisconsin.) It was really cloudy that day. One of the few cloudy days. So you can usually see Guatemala City and I think Antigua but you couldn't see anything. It was fun to watch the clouds moving and we were able to see the top of Pacaya a couple times.

One of the horses and some of our group - there were fourteen of us.

Headed down to walk on the lava rocks. And hopefully find a hot spot. 

Success! We roasted some marshmallows from a hot spot in the rocks. That's our guide in the green vest. 

A break in the clouds!

I made it :). It was tough. I was last. But I didn't need a horse. They certainly expected me to because one guy kept right on my heels "taxi, taxi" and it was super annoying. 

Taking a break up top. We couldn't see anything. 

This is what the view is suppose to look like with both Fuego and Acatenango in the background. 

This is what it actually looked like :). 

I was back in town by 12:30 and had the whole rest of the day! Actually I tried to nap, couldn't and then was pretty wiped out when Spanish class came at 3:00. 

I jotted down some thoughts throughout the morning to help me with any memorable moments. My Fitbit showed 13,697 steps for the morning (5.8 miles) and 179 floors climbed. I got my first bridge badge!

There was a couple from Minnesota who sat in the front of the van and were the only talkative ones at 6am (they were in their 50s I'd guess). She asked me if I was a student? No. Was I working? No. Oh, was I looking for work? Umm, no. Did I have rich parents? Haha, no. Then I finally explained myself and my 'delayed gap year'. Then some girls behind me said it wasn't delayed - that gap years are for everyone and they want to have one every few years :). (They were Canadian and Australian.)

There was another girl who I got a bad vibe from in the morning. And later on she was telling someone from another group it took us an hour and a half but if you went at a normal pace, you could do it in an hour easy, probably less. I was a bit annoyed since clearly I was the one restricting us from her 'normal pace' and also she was telling this to a lady that looked 60ish and was on a horse. Clearly that lady didn't fit her 'normal pace' either. Unfortunately when you pay the cheap, bulk group price, you get people of all levels. I get annoyed all over again just typing about it ;). 

Hopefully on Acatenango the others will not have hired a porter and their pack weight will keep them from bounding too far ahead of me!

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