Every Step Counts

If you read our last blog post, you´d remember that our week was tiring to say the least. In addition to our regular activities, we also made room for salsa lessons and a birthday celebration (happy birthday to OGGer Anna Marzsalek)! Perhaps the most fun came at the very tail end of the week, though, on our last night in Xela. As Saturday approached, we geared up to take on our biggest activity yet: a trek to the top of the highest point in all of Central America, Volcan Tajumulco.

3:30am Saturday morning and OGG was making final packing arrangements to be at Quetzaltrekkers within the hour to begin the journey. 3 Quetzaltrekker guides, 10 climbers and the 11 of us left Xela for San Marcos by 5am, stopped quickly for breakfast, then continued another on to get to Tajumulco. Trekking commenced by about 10am as expected. The plan was to hike up about 4 hours, stop for lunch somewhere along the trail, resume hiking for a bit, camp overnight, summit around 5am just in time for sunrise, then hike back down in a pinch so that we could commute to Antigua, located about 4 hours away, in the same day.

As we at OG like to say, not everything always works, but everything always works out. Well, the plan didn´t exactly… work. A little bit (or rather a lot of bit) of good ol´Mother Nature was thrown in the mix and we were forced to make things happen on different terms. About 3 hours into the ascent, the sky above ripped open in classic rainy season fashion forcing us to forgo lunch on the trail and instead book it straight to camp in the hopes of getting our tents up quickly. The team made it to camp after a gruelling 4.5 hours or so and worked together in putting up our luxurious 8-person tent. Winds wailing and rain ricocheting, the 11 of us scrambled to build, and re-build, and re-build the somewhat complex shelter after repeatedly putting the wrong poles in the wrong places. After what seemed like hours out in the rain, our humble abode was finally complete and we were frigidly water logged. Such moments call for nothing but the best of the best of spooning, so all 11 of us crowded into our mansion of a tent, wound ourselves up in sleeping bags, and got to cuddling the OG way. The rest of the evening was spent falling in and out of much needed sleep with some hearty laughs, some delicious hummus, and some hot tea all thrown in.

The second half of the plan: to wake up around 3:30am to summit for sunrise. The second half of the plan: also heavily modified. Mother Nature again gave us the cold shoulder as the morning came with nothing in view but a white, soupy mezcla of cloud covering. Albeit a royal bummer that summiting for sunrise was no longer an option, our crew remained optimistic and summited around 8am nonetheless. The hardest part of the trek proved to be the most rewarding. After surpassing great altitudes whilst climbing virtually vertical points, the entire team successfully made it to the top of the highest point in Central America, one humble step by step, each one counting toward the end result. Not storm rains nor cloudy skies nor altitude sickness nor stomach bugs could keep us down. We were on top of Central America. What a feeling. What a crew.

A view from above the clouds (this is only about halfway up).

Even Allie and Ben made it back down in one piece!